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The first blush of fall lays upon the Eastern face of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Humpback Mountain, above 2000 feet, shows bright color. One of the joys of living here is watching the color march down those mountains.
My dogwoods have started that red glow, and a sugar maple in the front drive at this moment is flaming orange. For most everything else, the color here should peak in two weeks. Then again, one never knows.
If I natter on about the weather, the season, it's because as a farmer you'd better be able to read the signs. Good as radar and the Weather Channel are, nothing will tell you about what's on deck better than furry caterpillars, leaf color, or animals developing a thick undercoat. The signs point to winter coming earlier this year and being colder than last year. If it kills the mosquitoes, ticks, and chiggers, I'm for it.
The "flying" part of the book tour started Monday, October 19 when I was in Detroit and Ann Arbor. One of these days, I will see Mackinaw Island in Michigan. However, book tours don't send you there.
Along the Eastern seaboard, we're cubbing. Actually, this is going on wherever there's a foxhunting club, a beagle or basset club, too. Foxhunters chase; we don't kill. I have to keep saying that because there's always someone who doesn't know, who thinks we are like the English. They do things their way; we do things ours.
And mid-November, rifle-season begins in Virginia. Bow season is already on for deer. Some people are opposed to deer hunting. The laws around suburban areas have created a deer population explosion, a good thing for anyone involved in body work. So many deer slam in to cars that those businesses are booming. Then the deer eat everyone's gardens. Finally, residents realize there's a major problem. They empower the police to cull the deer. Result: tax money spent to kill animals that no one eats. A complete and total waste no matter how you look at it. If that's the way it's going, can't those communities support Hunters for the Hungry?
ANIMAL MAGNETISM, publication date October 13, 2009, is the book for which I am flinging myself across the midwest and Mid-Atlantic. Usually, I write a book, am grateful I can do what I love for I do love writing every bit as much as I love hounds, horses, and my snotty cats. But this book, non-fiction, is close to my heart for it's about the animals in my life and what they have taught me. I'm not sure I've taught them much, but I have so loved them that I think they don't much mind the imbalance.
Whoever you are, may you be alive to Nature's beauty and wisdom, happy and curious about the creatures with whom you share your home and the world. We're all in it together.
Roger, Wilco, Over and Out
Rita Mae Brown
Now in Hardcover: ANIMAL MAGNETISM
Rita Mae Brown's earliest memory is of the soothing purr of Mickey, her family's long-haired tiger cat, who curled up and claimed a spot in her crib. From there, a steady parade of cats, dogs, horses, and all manner of two- and four-legged critters have walked, galloped, and flown into and through her world. In ANIMAL MAGNETISM, the bestselling author shares the lessons she's learned from these marvelous creatures as well as her deep appreciation for them.
Brown readily admits that she prefers the company of animals to people, a trait handed down from her mother. After all, Brown explains, “There's no such thing as a dumb dog, but God knows there are continents filled with dumb humans.” In fact, by observing the dogs on her farm, the horses in her stables, and the cats that have helped her flesh out her many novels, Brown has gained better insight into herself and other human beings-one need only look at a chicken coop, she once realized, to see its striking similarity to her mother's clucking and preening group of friends.
In hilarious and heartwarming stories, Brown introduces us to Franklin, a parrot with a wicked sense of humor; R.C., a courageous Doberman who defined loyalty and sacrifice; Suzie Q, the horse who taught her the meaning of hard work; Baby Jesus, a tough tiger cat from New York City with sharp teeth to match his attitude; and of course the beloved and prolific Sneaky Pie, who needs no introduction to her legions of fans. In her succinct and personable style, Brown also revisits the very human parts of her life -- growing up in the segregated South, dealing with the pain and the loss of those dearest to her, and coming into her own as an adult and as a writer.
Every recollection here reveals nature's delight and wonder -- and offers solid evidence of the ability of animals to love. As funny as it is poignant, ANIMAL MAGNETISM shows how these inspiring creatures, great and small, can bring out the best in us, restore us to our greater selves, and even save our lives.
From New York Times bestselling author Rita Mae Brown comes the latest novel in her enthralling series of foxhunting mysteries. Richly imagined and utterly engaging, HOUNDED TO DEATHreveals the cutthroat world of competitive hound shows as both humans and animals alike try to solve a series of bizarre deaths.
“Sister” Jane Arnold, esteemed master of the Jefferson Hunt Club, has traveled to Kentucky for one of the biggest events of the season: the Mid-South Hound Show, where foxhounds, bassets, and beagles gather to strut their champion bloodline stuff. But the fun is squelched when, immediately after the competition, one of the contestants, Mo Schneider, turns up dead -- facedown, stripped to the waist, and peppered with birdshot. Universally detested by his peers, Mo had no shortage of enemies, making the list of suspects as long as the line for homemade pecan pie at a church bake sale.
Two weeks later, back in Virginia, Sister is rocked when her friend the popular veterinarian Hope Rogers dies from what appears to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Sister refuses to believe that Hope killed herself and vows to sniff out the truth. But before she can make real headway, a wealthy pet food manufacturer vanishes during the granddaddy of all canine exhibitions, the Virginia Hound Show.
Ever reliant on her “horse sense,” Sister can't help but connect the three incidents. And what she uncovers will make her blood run colder than the bodies that keep turning up in unexpected places.
Thrilling adventures with horses and hounds, breathtaking vistas, furry friends, and familiar faces, including Shaker Crown and the girls from Custis Hall -- Rita Mae Brown weaves all these elements into a dazzling novel of suspense.
New York Times bestselling authors Rita Mae Brown and her feline partner, Sneaky Pie Brown, are back for the holidays in a new mystery featuring Mary Minor “Harry” Haristeen, the sleuthing cats Mrs. Murphy and Pewter, and corgi Tee Tucker. Can they save the season from a killjoy who's decided to gift the festive little town…with murder?
As Harry well knows, there's hardly a place on earth cozier than Crozet, Virginia, at Christmastime. The snowflakes drifting lazily down, the soft glow of the winter light, the sound of old carols in the streets…even cats Mrs. Murphy and Pewter get into the spirit batting ornaments and climbing the holiday tree. In fact, it's this year's tree that Harry and her husband, Fair, have gone to fetch when they find the one they've chosen grimly decorated with a dead body.
The tree farm is run by The Brothers of Love, a semimonastic organization that tends to AIDS patients. The brothers live in a monastery atop the scenic Blue Ridge Mountains. Harry is surprised to find an old high-school friend associated with The Brothers of Love. Christopher Hewitt wasn't a bad man, but good works weren't exactly one of his priorities. But then, if even Scrooge could turn over a new leaf, certainly Chris could. And after the scandal that all but destroyed his life, there were probably few in Crozet who needed the gift of a second chance more.
Harry knows she shouldn't take it personally, but it was her tree that someone left the corpse under. Now, as the season grows merrier, a murderer is growing bolder. One by one, prominent men of Crozet are being crossed off Christmas shopping lists and added to the morgue. And if Harry and her four-legged helpers aren't very good-and very careful-this Christmas may be her last.
24 September 2007 One day after the Autumn Equinox Horace Walpole born in London, 1717 F. Scott Fitzgerald born in Minnesota, 1896
The light changes after the autumn equinox; not only does it mean now we have more night than day, the quality of the light changes here by the Blue Ridge Mountains. The air is suffused with soft gold, or so it seems, and the fox certainly takes advantage of it.
Cubbing has begun, and despite the worrisome drought, young hounds and foxes fly along. We cast at seven-thirty in the morning, dew thick on the grass, and scent holds for perhaps an hour.
To those of you who may have received this newsletter but have not read the Sister Jane books, please, Americans chase foxes --- we don’t kill them.
Fall always excites me, but then, to be honest, every season does, for each season, and they are distinct here, possesses its own special energy and beauty.
Wherever you are, I hope you enjoy this time, and I especially hope you enjoy THE TELL-TALE HORSE. Writing these foxhunting books is a joy for me because this sport (it’s so much more than a sport, really) is the grand passion of my life.Hey, if it was good enough for George Washington, it’s good enough for me.
The hunt is on in this new installment of Rita Mae Brown’s clever and engaging series. Only instead of chasing foxes into their dens, the locals must track down a killer and save the life of one of the most beloved folks in town.
It’s February, prime foxhunting season for the members of Virginia’s Jefferson Hunt Club. The girls at Custis Hall are finishing their last semester before heading off to college, the entrepreneurially shrewd Crawford Howard is still smarting from January’s breech in hound etiquette, and the Casanova Hunt Club is hosting their annual ball. New neighbors bring new friendships, and romance is in the air.
Then a shocking event alarms the community. A woman is found brutally murdered, stripped naked, and meticulously placed atop a horse statue outside a tack shop. The theft of a treasured foxhunting prize inside the store may be linked to the grisly scene, and everyone is on edge.
With few clues to go on, “Sister” Jane Arnold, master of the Jefferson Hunt Club, uses her fine-tuned horse sense to try to solve the mystery of this “Lady Godiva” murder. The septuagenarian still has a strong spring in her step and her wits about her, but that may not be enough. As Sister gets closer to the truth, she could become the killer’s next victim.
But humans aren’t the only ones equipped to sniff out the trail. The local foxes, horses, and hounds have their own theories on the whodunit. If only these peculiar people could just listen to them, they’d see that the killer might be right under their oblivious noses.
Once again, this charming southern community finds itself caught up in a bone-chilling tale of murder and greed. It’s up to everyone, two- and four-legged alike, to band together, beat the bushes, and bring to bay the evil forces that have declared the Jefferson Hunt Club fair game --- because foul play is never in season.
-Click here to read an excerpt from THE TELL-TALE HORSE. -Click here to buy THE TELL-TALE HORSE.
Critics and fans alike are wild about Rita Mae Brown's richly imagined and utterly engaging foxhunting mysteries --- and this novel promises more thrilling hunts, breathtaking vistas, and an all-new sinister scandal.
Millions of dollars seem to be missing after a long-overdue audit of the local aluminum plant reveals a major accounting discrepancy. Company president Garvey Stokes finds himself at a loss --- in more ways than one. He turns to his sharp-tongued, ornery bookkeeper, Iphigenia "Iffy" Demetrios, for an explanation, but she's no help. Yet when the fuzzy math suddenly includes a body count, the figures can no longer be ignored.
-Click here to read an excerpt from THE HOUNDS AND THE FURY. -Click here to buy THE HOUNDS AND THE FURY.
Instead of a proper second honeymoon, the newly remarried Harry and Fair Haristeen leave cozy Crozet, Virginia, for Shelbyville, Kentucky, site of the famous saddlebred horse show. There they’ll visit dear friends Joan Hamilton and Larry Hodge and enjoy a week among some of the finest horses, trainers, and riders in the country.
But soon after they arrive, events veer mysteriously --- and murderously --- off course. First, Joan’s ruby and sapphire horsehead heirloom pin is stolen from her private box at the fairgrounds. Next, a young film star’s prize three-gaited mare disappears into thin air. There is no lack of suspects, from hotheaded trainers and jealous rivals to vicious ex-spouses. Then a body is found flagrantly murdered and it’s obvious to Harry that someone at Shelbyville is sending a strong message: winning is only secondary --- first prize is survival.
As Harry searches for clues, rediscovers life as a married woman, and deals with her upcoming fortieth birthday, her four-legged detective friends are already on the case. But is animal instinct any match for human depravity? Especially with two humans to protect and a killer on the prowl?
Rita Mae Brown and her feline partner-in-crime-detection, Sneaky Pie Brown, return to the scene of their bestselling crimes --- picturesque Crozet, Virginia. Love is in the air as spring comes to the small town, but no sooner has Mary Minor “Harry” Haristeen remarried than she is rudely interrupted --- by murder. And no sooner does the trouble start than curious cats Mrs. Murphy and Pewter, along with corgi Tee Tucker, sink their claws into the case.…
After an unexpected rekindling of their romance, Harry and her veterinarian ex-husband, Fair Haristeen, have happily remarried. But the excitement of their nuptials is quickly overshadowed by the murder of Professor Vincent Forland, a world-famous grape and fungal expert who was in town visiting the local vineyards.
Within days of giving a lecture on how distilled fungus and cattle diseases are the current basis of chemical warfare, Forland’s decapitated body is discovered. After their initial fright, the residents of Crozet believe that this was a political murder and settle back into their routines–until a local is also found dead, killed in the same gruesome manner as Professor Forland. Now residents can’t help wondering, is this really the work of an outsider --- or one of their own?
No longer working in the post office, Harry had just planted a quarter acre of grapes, which fuels her natural curiosity over just what the two murder victims knew and had in common. Once the warmth of spring arrives, the grapevines blossom and Harry’s furry entourage discovers the first critical clue. But how can they show the humans what they’ve learned? And how can they --- or anyone --- stop the killing?
If you're reading this newsletter it means you
have such good taste in literature. As THE HOUNDS AND THE FURY has just been
released, you can exercise your aesthetic impulse. As to
your other impulses, the less said the
Where I live the Blue Ridge is turning red,
orange, gold and variations in between. Certain species
of hawks on their southern migration pause here to
spiral in the wind currents and rest. The sight of
hundreds of raptors slowly twirling is astonishing. They
talk among themselves, too.
The deer are moving about as all creatures are
preparing for winter, but the wild turkeys seem to have
the most perverse sense of humor about it. They'll dash
in front of you (unless it's hunting season, they always
know when) and then tuck up for the night.
THE HOUNDS AND THE FURY, the fifth in
the Foxhunting series, takes
place right here in central Virginia, and Sister Jane,
the main character, can read Nature's book as clearly as
I can. Her problems arise from humans, not animals,
since humans have an odd habit of killing one another
for reasons that they feel they can justify. Killing in
self-defense or to eat makes sense. Otherwise it seems
rude. Well, as usual, Sister winds up in the thick of
it. Why tell you more? If I could talk out a book I
wouldn't write it now, would I? Actually, I'm not too
good at creating synopses. It's a little bit like asking
a hitter at the plate the kinesiology of his/her swing.
They'll never touch the ball after that.
Read it. If you don't like it, fear not: there's
an avalanche of novels out there. One is bound to please
you. If you do like it, I commend your
If all goes well, I'll return again to Sister
Jane, Inky, Diana, Aztec and the others.
As I write this, my co-author on the Mrs. Murphy series has just
brought in a yellow finch, very much alive. She doesn't
kill birds. She drops them at my feet where they remain
still in a state of terror. So I have to pick this
little guy up and put him in the woodshed while he
overcomes the shock and then flies out. She's obviously
not working on her book.
Well, I'll be working on mine, and when not, I'll
be out there chasing foxes who flip their claw at you
(since they can't flip the finger). Such saucy
Critics and fans alike are wild about Rita Mae
Brown's richly imagined and utterly engaging foxhunting
mysteries --- and this latest novel promises more
thrilling hunts, breathtaking vistas, and an all-new
of dollars seem to be missing after a long-overdue audit
of the local aluminum plant reveals a major accounting
discrepancy. Company president Garvey Stokes finds
himself at a loss --- in more ways than one. He turns to
his sharp-tongued, ornery bookkeeper, Iphigenia "Iffy"
Demetrios, for an explanation, but she's no help. Yet
when the fuzzy math suddenly includes a body count, the
figures can no longer be ignored.
-Click here to read an excerpt from THE
HOUNDS AND THE FURY.
"A rich, atmospheric murder mystery . . . rife
with love, scandal . . . redemption, greed and
nobility," raved the San Jose Mercury News
about OUTFOXED, Rita Mae Brown's first foxhunting
masterpiece. In THE HUNT BALL, the latest novel in
this popular series, all the ingredients Brown's readers
love are abundantly present: richness of character and
landscape, the thrill of the hunt, and the chill of
The trouble begins at Custis Hall, an
exclusive girls' school in Virginia that has gloried in
its good name for nearly two hundred years. At first,
the outcry is a mere tempest in a silver teapot --- a
small group of students protesting the school's exhibit
of antique household objects crafted by slaves --- and
headmistress Charlotte Norton quells the ruckus easily.
But when one of the two hanging corpses ornamenting the
students' Halloween dance turns out to be real --- the
body of the school's talented fund-raiser, in fact ---
Charlotte and the entire community are stunned. Everyone
liked Al Perez, or so it seemed, yet his murder was
-Click here to read an excerpt from THE HUNT