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June 4, 2019

Whiskers in the Dark by Rita Mae Brown ~ a Review

by Donna Huber

Whiskers in the Dark is my first cozy mystery by Rita Mae Brown. I've seen her books mentioned on other blogs and thought they looked cute so when I saw on NetGalley that she had a new book coming out I had to try it. As it is book 28 in the Mrs. Murphy series, I hoped it would be more of a stand alone.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

Whiskers in the Dark
June 2019; Bantam; 978-0425287187
audio, ebook, print (288 pages); cozy mystery
Before the story gets started there is a list of characters with short descriptions. If are following the series, it probably serves as a good reminder and for those like me picking up this book first, it gives some background information. I wish more books that are in long series would do this (or at least provide the info online). Do you like having a list of characters to reference?

And there are plenty of characters to keep straight. I'm not sure which characters are unique to this story and which are recurring characters, but there is quite a list that I assume are recurring especially since there are pets included in the list. The pets are very much a part of the cast - Mrs. Murphy is a cat. While the humans do not understand the animals the animals do talk to one another.

I'm not sure how to classify this cozy mystery. There is a lot of "interests" that it could fall into. At first, I thought it was an animal cozy, but then they spent a lot of time talking about hunting (rabbits and foxes), so I thought maybe it's a hunting cozy (is that such a thing?), but then there is a historical storyline and a lot of the main characters in present day seem to know a lot about history (who remembers the date of the surrender at Appomattox?) so then I thought maybe it was a history cozy. There's also a ghost, so maybe a supernatural cozy? There's a good bit of military and foreign service references (as well as characters who have served) so maybe that's the category. It seems to defy classification. And that's okay.

I was a bit worried that this was going to be a southern story (it's set in Virginia) where they were obsessed with being southern, particularly given the Civil War references at the beginning. I live in the south and know people that haven't quite gotten over the war (in eighth grade a kid told me he hated me because my side one the war - I'm originally from the north). But when the story switches focus from present day to the past it is the 1780s and the United States is just forming.

At first, I thought the historical storyline was because of the body the present day characters found buried on top of another grave. But that it isn't the only murder in this story. There's also a murder to be solved in the present day. It wasn't until the end that I started to think that the historical story is recurring throughout the series as well.

I really enjoyed this cozy mystery. And as I had hoped, it read well as a stand-alone. While you can tell the characters all know each other there isn't a lot of references that make you think there is more to the story that you are missing because you haven't read the previous books. It is more like you were dropped in the middle of a community where the characters had lives before we encountered them and will continue living life after we close the book. I much prefer this approach than the stories that hint at other mysteries the characters solved.

Now the big question whenever starting a series that has some many books in it - will I go back and catch up? Probably not totally. I will probably do what I do the M.C. Beaton series I have encountered - I'll read the books that I happen to come across at the library or thrift sales. But I will definitely read more in this series, both past book and any future books, as I want to know what happens with the characters.

Buy Whiskers in the Dark at Amazon

Donna Huber is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the founder of Girl Who Reads and the author of how-to marketing book Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour.

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  1. I read a few books in this series years ago and found them entertaining.

  2. I would not choose this one because it is of a long series.

  3. the title made me smile, then i read the tease :-)
    sherry @ fundinmental

  4. I like the teaser and the cover!