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Available 4.15.24

Furmidable Foes

Furmidable Foes, April 2021
Mrs.Murphy #29
by Rita Mae Brown

304 pages
ISBN: 0593130030
EAN: 9780593130032
Kindle: B07X1FBDST
Paperback / e-Book
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"Flower planting today, but a murky past for Crozet, Virginia"

Fresh Fiction Review

Furmidable Foes
Rita Mae Brown

Reviewed by Clare O'Beara
Posted October 14, 2022


Despite the cat and summer flowers on the cover, the 29th book in the Mrs. Murphy series is not entirely a cozy mystery. FURMIDABLE FOES contains the familiar ingredients from prolific author, Rita Mae Brown. But readers may find some aspects disturbing.


The modern-day antics of pets and gardening, in the scenic Virginia countryside, are interspersed with Crozet, Virginia after the Revolutionary War, in 1787. A historical drama of major proportions takes place, as three runaway slaves from the Big Rawly plantation are pursued by slave catchers.


In 2019 Crozet, Harry Haristeen, and Susan Tucker work as volunteers with the Dorcas Guild at St. Luke's Lutheran Church. They carry out historical research on the property, and I love that this includes which flowers and shrubs to plant where, which were considered too showy by the original landscapers, and why that would not have suited the congregation. Many acid-soil-loving plants are named such as azalea, but these are noted to be toxic.  Disturbing the ground leads to the discovery by Harry's husband Fair of three unmarked graves, under an old shed being restored. Slaves had a place in the churchyard proper, so it seems there is a mystery to this burial.  


Up in the mountains, meanwhile, the patrolling dogs come across a moonshine still and a recently dead man. Tucker the Corgi and Pirate the young Irish Wolfhound don’t want to alert Harry, as crime leads Harry into danger. But the cats Mrs. Murphy and Pewter will tell her if they find anything.  The local news tells us that a brewery truck was robbed, just one of an odd series of events.


As to the historical era, much as we’d love every runaway to make it to a free state, this being a crime novel, we are reminded that some slaves were recaptured and faced vengeful people. Many interactions of that day are shown, and most seem to involve some form of violence or conciliation, no matter who was on the scene. Rita Mae Brown has included this past in her more recent works. A well-established author can write the story which she thinks needs to be written. Not everyone likes to pick up a historical crime story in a modern cozy, and this doubles the character list. But I learned a lot about the conditions and politics of the day. If you want a more serious read, with familiar characters and setting, FURMIDABLE FOES has plenty of flowers and a highly entertaining wolfhound.

Learn more about Furmidable Foes


Mary Minor “Harry” Harristeen is on the hunt for a killer with a deadly green thumb when a day in the garden turns fatal in this exciting new mystery from Rita Mae Brown and her feline co-author Sneaky Pie Brown.  

Spring arrives in northern Virginia, and as the ground thaws and the peonies begin to bloom a bright magenta, the women of St. Luke’s Lutheran Church prepare for a Homecoming celebration like no other. Harry, Susan Tucker, and their friends are busy planting flowers and trimming hedges to get the church grounds in shape for the big day. 

But a note of a menace mars the beautiful spring: The brewery owned by Janice Childs and Mags Nielsen, two members of the gardening committee, gets robbed, with hundreds of dollars in merchandise taken off their delivery trucks in the dead of night. Is this the work of a random thief? Or is something more sinister afoot?
When Jeannie Cordle drops dead at a charity auction, poisoned by a fatal weed, Harry’s worst suspicions are confirmed: a killer lurks in their midst, one with a keen understanding of poisonous plants. Although she can’t yet prove it, Harry knows the murder is related to the thefts at Bottom’s Up Brewery.

With help from her feline sidekicks, Mrs. Murphy and Pewter, as well as Tee Tucker the corgi and sweet puppy Pirate, Harry sets out to find the weed in St. Luke’s garden—and stop a killer before they can strike again.

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