I am delighted today to provide our reviews for you at my blog stop for Scarlet Fever by Rita Mae Brown on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour.
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Scarlet Fever: A Novel (“Sister” Jane)
12th in Series
Ballantine Books (November 26, 2019) Happy Publication Day!
Hardcover: 304 pages
Digital ASIN: B07P8J8KVM
Winter blizzards bring a flurry of cases to solve in this riveting new foxhunting mystery featuring “Sister” Jane Arnold and her incorrigible hounds from New York Times bestselling author Rita Mae Brown.
Frigid February air has settled into the bones of the Blue Ridge Mountains, making for a slow foxhunting season, though “Sister” Jane Arnold’s enthusiasm is not so easily deterred. With the winter chill come tweed coats, blazing fireplaces—and perhaps another to share the warmth with, as the bold hunting scarlets worn by the men in Sister Jane’s hunting club make the hearts of women flutter—until someone’s stops entirely.
Harry Dunbar, a member of the Jefferson Hunt club with a penchant for antique furniture, is found with his skull cracked at the bottom of the stairs to a local store. There are no telltale signs of foul play—save for the priceless (and stolen) Erté fox ring in his pocket. Sister and her hounds set out to uncover the truth: was this simply an accident—a case of bad luck—or something much more sinister?
Steeped in the deep traditions of Virginia horse country and featuring a colorful cast of characters both two- and four-legged, Scarlet Fever is another spirited mystery from Rita Mae Brown.
This is classed as a cozy animal mystery, but was still a surprise. The author presents a number of POVs including those of the foxes, hounds, horses, as well as humans. And humans–there’s a bunch of them. Protagonist Sister (Jane Arnold) functions as Master of Foxhounds for the Jefferson Hunt and has quite the rep as a competent leader. It’s fox-hunting season, frigid out there in the Virginia hills looking at the Blue Ridge Mountains, and the foxes are plentiful.
No, really smart. I had no idea.
There is a whole language to learn with the fox-hunting business, and try as I might, I still don’t understand the whole reasoning. Kinda like the fishing “catch and release.” This is a tight-knit, well-to-do community with tons ‘o bucks tied in fox-hunting hounds, gorgeous and fleet-footed Thoroughbreds, some Bays, and a wardrobe to die for. The boots would cost my monthly income. The term scarlet refers to the recent predominance of the color with people buying coats off the rack rather than being tailored.
This narrative opens a world you might only have been briefly aware, perhaps a sport associated more with the English (or the French?). It’s a lesson that takes some time in immersion, but there is a death that looks suspicious. There is an undercurrent of interest and discussion of exquisite antiques, drug and opioid problems, and the plight of the aged and oft less than sympathetic treatment of patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s.
My introduction to the series and this author would be Book 12 and with the complex cast of characters, you might wish to begin with Book 1. Somewhat slow to start, the well-plotted mystery moves you headlong into a world you’ve never imagined. I particularly enjoyed the conversation between the animals, not just between the dogs, but species to species.
“…hunting can be so unpredictable. One soon sees who has courage, who has brains, and who has both. Truthfully, the horses have more of both than the humans.”
The author has an interesting no-nonsense way of laying out the facts in a droll and unemotional manner. The conclusion is not wholly unexpected and there is no horrific life or death struggle at the climax. Loose threads are joined. I was, however, intrigued by the description of the hunt or tailgate breakfasts.
I received this digital download from the publisher through NetGalley for this blog tour and appreciated the opportunity to read and review.
Be patient! I thought this book started slowly with 27 pages of introduction of the characters. I was about to abandon it but got into the tale. Masterfully contrived the story held interest and suspense for me. A world I have only seen pictures of opened up. Fox hunting has always seemed gratuitous for the rich and really out of reach for average folk.
Ms. Brown has evolved the characters into personalities both human and canine. The older foxes had many traits that older humans have. A den becomes a sanctuary for individuals and not families. It seems except for breeding season, the fox either vixen or reynard, prefers solitary living. They also have a penchant for sweets and human blankets and coats. Fun to explore their habitats and habits.
The author held my interest throughout the book including a couple of sub-plots that were neatly wrapped up at the end. She is the complete author and artist. Stick with this book and enjoy your reward. CE Williams
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Rita Mae Brown is the bestselling author of the Sneaky Pie Brown mysteries; the Sister Jane series; the Runnymede novels, including Six of One and Cakewalk; A Nose for Justice and Murder Unleashed; Rubyfruit Jungle; and In Her Day; as well as many other books. An Emmy-nominated screenwriter and a poet, Brown lives in Afton, Virginia, and is a Master of Foxhounds and the huntsman.
Website – http://ritamaebrownbooks.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/RitaMaeBrown
Thank you for visiting my stop on the tour and please visit the other stops listed below!
November 25 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – SPOTLIGHT
November 25 – Reading Is My SuperPower – SPOTLIGHT
November 26 – Rosepoint Publishing – REVIEW
November 26 – Baroness’ Book Trove – SPOTLIGHT
November 27 – Diane Reviews Books – REVIEW
November 27 – Hearts & Scribbles – SPOTLIGHT
November 28 – THANKSGIVING – OFF
November 29 – Ebook addicts – SPOTLIGHT
November 29 – FUONLYKNEW – SPOTLIGHT
November 30 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW
November 30 – StoreyBook Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
December 1 – I Read What You Write – SPOTLIGHT
December 1 – This Is My Truth Now – SPOTLIGHT
December 2 – Literary Gold = SPOTLIGHT
December 2 – fundinmental – SPOTLIGHT
December 2 – The Book Diva’s Reads – SPOTLIGHT
December 3 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
December 3 – A Chick Who Reads – REVIEW
December 4 – My Reading Journeys – SPOTLIGHT
December 4 – Island Confidential – SPOTLIGHT
December 5 – Ruff Drafts – SPOTLIGHT
December 5 – MJB Reviewers – SPOTLIGHT
Thanks to Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours for the opportunity to read and review this cozy mystery!
©2019 V Williams