Authors: Rita Mae Brown
Books by Rita Mae Brown & Sneaky Pie Brown
WISH YOU WERE HERE
REST IN PIECES
MURDER AT MONTICELLO
MURDER, SHE MEOWED
MURDER ON THE PROWL
CAT ON THE SCENT
SNEAKY PIE’S COOKBOOK FOR MYSTERY LOVERS
PAWING THROUGH THE PAST
CLAWS AND EFFECT
CATCH AS CAT CAN
THE TAIL OF THE TIP-OFF
WHISKER OF EVIL
PUSS ’N CAHOOTS
THE PURRFECT MURDER
Books by Rita Mae Brown
THE HAND THAT CRADLES THE ROCK
SONGS TO A HANDSOME WOMAN
THE PLAIN BROWN RAPPER
IN HER DAY
SIX OF ONE
STARTING FROM SCRATCH: A DIFFERENT KIND OF WRITERS’ MANUAL
DOLLEY: A NOVEL OF DOLLEY MADISON IN LOVE AND IN WAR
RITA WILL: A MEMOIR OF A LITERARY RABBLE-ROUSER
THE HUNT BALL
THE HOUNDS AND THE FURY
THE TELL-TALE HORSE
THE SAND CASTLE
HOUNDED TO DEATH
ANIMAL MAGNETISM: MY LIFE WITH CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL
With gratitude and fond memory
Irwyn Applebaum and Barb Burg
I would like to thank Dr. Jahnae Barnett, Kenda Shindler, Gayle Lampe, D. Scott Miniea, and Brenda Foster, all of William Woods University, for being such good sports and allowing Sneaky Pie and me to set this mystery at the university. I especially thank Dr. Barnett, Mrs. Shindler, and Miss Lampe for letting me use their names in this novel. Obviously, this is a work of fiction so while I use their names, the events are made up. As with any such work, the events, characters, and incidents depicted are products of the feline imagination as well as my own. Any resemblance to actual events, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. There are XVIII Wheelers Truck Washes and they are owned by Eddie Barnett. Go on, pull in one.
Mary Minor Haristeen
—“Harry” is hardworking, watchful, and usually good-natured. Having just tipped over into her early forties, she’s lived long enough to know life rarely turns out as one expects it will turn out. However, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Pharamond Haristeen, D.V.M.
—“Fair” is a tall, powerfully built man. He’s more sensitive than his wife, often better able to read people’s emotions.
Aunt Tally Urquhart
—She is about to turn one hundred and she’s ready for her next hundred. The old girl knows the emperor wears no clothes. In fact, she takes delight in this wisdom.
Inez Carpenter, D.V.M.
—Inez met Tally at William Woods University. She is now ninety-eight. She has shepherded Fair’s career, taking pride in his success in equine veterninary medicine. She, herself, is one of the most respected vets in the country, a pioneer for women’s progress in this field.
Marilyn Sanburne, Sr.
—“Big Mim” is Tally’s niece. Born to privilege, she can sometimes be a snob but is basically a good person. Now in her seventies she tries hard to see other people’s points of view.
Marilyn Sanburne, Jr.
—“Little Mim” knows she will never be the force in the community her powerful mother is. Her response to this was to get elected vice mayor of Crozet. She’ll be powerful in a different way as the years roll on.
—She graduated from William Woods University in 1974. A successful businesswoman, she owns a high-end jewelry store in Kansas City where she is the head of their WWU Alumnae Association. She loathes Flo Langston.
—Flo returns the favor. She couldn’t stand Mariah when they were freshmen together and she can’t stand her now. Flo has made pots of money as a stockbroker and she is the head of St. Louis’s WWU Alumnae Association. St. Louis and Kansas City are as different as chalk and cheese; perhaps the animosity of Flo and Mariah reflects that.
—She is in her late thirties, and heads the WWU Alumnae Association chapter in Richmond, Virginia. She considers herself Flo’s protégée. Flo remains silent on that subject but the two are in constant contact. Liz manages Inez Carpenter’s portfolio.
—She is a few years younger than Liz and a close friend who is also a WWU graduate. She chairs the small alumnae chapter in Charlottesville, Virginia, while owning and running a store on the north side of Barracks Road Shopping Center. Terri specializes in expensive French and Italian ceramics, dishware, etc. She’s a bit of a nervous Nellie.
—Garvey owns Thompson and Watson, an exclusive men’s clothing store located next to Terri Kincaid’s store. In his early seventies, he’s a kind man, a community favorite. He’s also African American. Garvey’s many white friends don’t really see him as a black man, which can be both good and bad. He’s just Garvey Watson but he sees all the shades of gray in most issues whereas his white friends often do not.
Dr. Jahnae Barnett
—President of the university, she spills over with energy, ideas, and a passion for education. She’s one of those people who can pull the best out of others.
Miss Gayle Lampe
—weighted down with titles, awards, and ribbons from the show ring, is oblivious to all that. Her focus is always on those beautiful Saddlebred horses and the young humans who ride them at William Woods. Like the above mentioned president of this unique institution, an institution focusing on developing the total individual, she is warm and approachable.
—Dr. Barnett’s assistant has the perfect personality for the job. She’s positive, good with detail, and not one to walk away from a problem.
—A fictional Fulton girl who graduated from William Woods in 1996, she heads the alumnae association in the town that is home to the university. She possesses common sense, which when you think of it, isn’t common at all.
—She’s a tiger cat of high intelligence. She’s sleek, loves her humans as well as the dog with whom she shares this life. The other cat she also loves, but finds it more difficult than loving the dog.
—The other cat is rotund, gray, and appallingly self-centered. As my Southern mother would say about Pewter, “She’s as fat as a tick and wrapped up in self-regard, bless her heart.” Still, Pewter comes through in a pinch.
—She is a Pembroke corgi, full of enthusiasm and bright spirit. She is devoted to Harry and Fair and adores Mrs. Murphy and Pewter, too, although there can be pronounced differences of opinion. Wonderful as she and all corgis are, it’s best not to invite her to your cocktail party. She’ll try to herd the guests.
—He is an oppossum who lives in the loft of the Haristeens’ barn. He’s a sweet fellow if a trifle simple.
—This young Gordon setter belongs to Aunt Tally. He knows his human is old, tough though she is, and he is vigilant.
—He is a gorgeous vizsla owned by Inez Carpenter. He’s also young, versatile in his abilities, and learning about life from the others. He loves Inez.
lone figure walked along a shoveled-off bricklaid path. The dormant gardens glimmered with frost. The skies seemed low enough to touch.
Aunt Tally, two weeks away from her one-hundredth birthday, called her Gordon setter, Doodles.
As the young dog joyfully returned to his master, Aunt Tally leaned on her silver-headed cane, the head being in the graceful shape of a hound. Apart from having to use that cane—thanks to the usual involuntary dismounts all horsewomen take—she betrayed few signs of her advanced years. Had you seen her peering at the ground as she walked along, you would have pegged her at eighty, perhaps.
“More snow coming.” She squinted at the sky this March 11, Wednesday.
Doodles, who had sharper senses, replied,