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Authors: Rita Mae Brown

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The Litter of the Law

BOOK: The Litter of the Law
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The Litter of the Law
is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2013 by American Artists, Inc.

All rights reserved.

Published in the United States by Bantam Books, an imprint of The Random House Publishing Group, a division of Random House LLC, a Penguin Random House Company, New York.

and the H
colophon are registered trademarks of Random House LLC.

Illustrations copyright © 2013 by Michael Gellatly

Brown, Rita Mae.
The litter of the law : a Mrs. Murphy mystery / Rita Mae Brown & Sneaky Pie Brown; Illustrated by Michael Gellatly.
pages cm
ISBN 978-0-345-53048-6
eBook ISBN: 978-0-345-53857-4
1. Haristeen, Harry (Fictitious character)—Fiction.
2. Murphy, Mrs. (Fictitious character) —Fiction.
3. Women detectives—Virginia—Fiction. I. Title.
PS3552.R698L58 2013

Jacket design: Beverly Leung
Jacket illustrations: © Daniel Pelvin (cat),
© Shutterstock/MisterElements (yarn)


Cast of Characters

Mary Minor Haristeen
—“Harry,” just forty-one, a Smith graduate who wound up being Crozet, Virginia’s, postmistress for sixteen years, is now trying to make some money by farming. She survived breast cancer and prefers not to think about it. She more or less lives on the surface of life until her curiosity pulls her deeper.

Phararond Haristeen, D.V.M
.—“Fair” specializes in equine reproduction. After graduating from Auburn he married his childhood sweetheart, Harry. He reads people’s emotions much better than his wife does. He is a year older than Harry.

Susan Tucker
—Outgoing, adept at any and all social exchange, she’s Harry’s best friend since cradle days. She loves Harry but worries about how Harry just blunders into things.

The Very Reverend Herbert Jones
—A Vietnam veteran, Army, he is pastor at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church, which is well over two hundred years old. He is a man of deep conviction and feeling. He’s known Harry since her childhood.

Deputy Cynthia Cooper
—Tall, lean, and Harry’s next-door neighbor as she rents the adjoining farm, she loves law enforcement. Harry meddles in Cooper’s business from time to time but
the Smith graduate has an uncanny knack of finding important information.

Tazio Chappars
—She’s an architect in her early thirties often assisted by her yellow Lab rescue, Brinkley. Italian African heritage gives her dazzling good looks. She hails from St. Louis, Missouri.

Buddy Janss—
A huge fellow and a successful farmer; he can be counted on to pitch in for fund-raisers. He and Harry like to discuss crops, weather, and new equipment.

Hester Martin
—A middle-aged graduate of Mary Baldwin, she runs a roadside produce stand. Odd, opinionated, but blessed with a good heart, she drags people into her projects.

Aunt Tally Urquhart—
This 101-year-old aunt of Marilyn Sanburne, Sr., does what she wants when she wants. She’s not in too much evidence in this volume, which gives everyone a rest.

Marilyn Sanburne, Sr.—
“Big Mim,” known as The Queen of Crozet. She runs everything and everyone except her aunt. Big Mim is a political animal.

Marilyn Sanburne, Jr
.—“Little Mim” has just had a baby, Roland. Her mother doesn’t like the name. Often Little Mim doesn’t like her mother.

Miranda Hogendobber
—A second mother to Harry, a devout member of the evangelical Church of the Holy Light, she, too, isn’t much in evidence in this volume. Like Big Mim, she’s in her seventies and has no idea how she got there so fast.

Sheriff Rick Shaw
—The sheriff of Albemarle County, he is overburdened, underfunded, and overworked. Despite that, he likes law enforcement and has learned to trust Cooper. Originally, he wasn’t thrilled having a woman in the department.

Neil Jordan
—The treasurer for St. Luke’s, Neil can be picky, picky, picky. He drives Harry crazy and vice versa but they have to work together as both are on the vestry board. He owns a fertilizer business that is lucrative.

Wesley Speer
—He’s also on the vestry board and brings a business perspective. He works sometimes with Neil since Wesley owns an upscale realty firm. He’ll often refer clients to Neil. Wesley, like any high-end Realtor, is slick.

BoomBoom Craycroft
—Another childhood friend of Harry’s, she had an affair with Harry’s husband years back. It was a mess, of course. Everyone has recovered and in many ways is the better for it. BoomBoom runs her late husband’s concrete business. She is conventionally beautiful.

Alicia Palmer
—Now here’s a showstopper. Alicia was a movie star in the fifties, whipped through a few husbands, affairs, etc., made pots of money, inherited more from an old flame. She returned to Crozet, fell in love with BoomBoom, and is blissfully happy.

Sarah Price
—Hester Martin’s niece comes up to Crozet from Houston.

Paul Diaz
—Tazio’s boyfriend, who trains Big Mim’s horses.

The Really Important Characters

Mrs. Murphy
—She’s a tiger cat who is usually cool, calm, and collected. She loves her humans, Tucker the dog, and even Pewter, the other cat, who can be a pill.

—She’s self-centered, rotund, intelligent when she wants to be. Selfish as this cat is, she often comes through at the last minute to help and then wants all the credit.

Tee Tucker
—This corgi could take your college boards. She is devoted to Harry, Fair, and Mrs. Murphy. She is less devoted to Pewter.

—He’s an opossum who lives in the hayloft of the Haristeens’ barn.

—She’s a large blacksnake with a large sense of humor. She also lives in the hayloft.

—This great horned owl lives in the barn cupola. She irritates Pewter, but the cat realizes the bird could easily pick her up and carry her off.

—A young Saddlebred in Harry’s barn who is being trained as a foxhunter. He’s very smart, young, good-natured.

—Harry’s older Thoroughbred. They’ve been friends a long time.

The Lutheran Cats

—She’s the oldest of the St. Luke’s cats and cares a lot about the “Rev,” as his friends sometimes call the Very Reverend Herbert Jones.

—This cat watches everybody and everything.

Lucy Fur
—She’s the youngest of the kitties. While ever playful, she obeys her elders.

air Haristeen, doctor of veterinary medicine, and his wife, Mary Minor “Harry” Haristeen, loved to steal a Saturday and cruise the back roads of central Virginia. It reminded them of their courting days, back in high school, when Fair, bruised from Friday night’s football game, would pick up Harry, dirty from the stable, and they’d drive around in his 1958 Chevy pickup. Now, over two decades later, Fair was at the wheel of their station wagon, Harry beside him, the pets in the back seat, as they rode through the countryside.

Mrs. Murphy, the tiger cat, Pewter, her gray, overweight sidekick, and Tucker, the corgi, usually accompanied their people everywhere except in high heat. On a mild day like today, windows down a crack, the three could sleep or chat while the humans talked.

“Perfect weather,” Fair declared.

October 12 was indeed a ravishing fall day—early fall, for the summer warmth lingered late this year. Forests looked spray-painted with yellow, orange, flaming red, deep red, old gold.

“Hey, Miranda got the respiratory flu.” Harry mentioned a former co-worker and dear friend. “She’s swearing that drinking electrolytes will cure her. She saw it on TV.”

Fair shook his head. “Electrolytes will help, but our beloved Miranda seems susceptible to quacks.”

Watching the passing scenery, Pewter noticed a lovely yellow clapboard farmhouse.
“Quack—duck. Why call a crook a quack?”

“I don’t know,”
Tucker replied. The corgi was well used to Pewter’s inquiring mind.
“They also use the term ‘snake oil.’ A quack sells snake oil. It’s confusing.”

Pewter whooped.
“If they’ll buy snake oil, maybe we can get them hooked on catnip.”

BOOK: The Litter of the Law
3.74Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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