Book Review: Hiss Of Death by Rita Mae Brown

I fear that I really have given up on Rita Mae Brown ever writing any more of her wonderful non-genre novels.   But I will say that Brown’s latest Mrs. Murphy mystery continues the story of Mary Minor “Harry” Harristeen, the former postmistress in Crozet, Virginia who in this installment battles with breast cancer.   As always in these mysteries there are lots of new characters introduced in the early pages,  and in this instance both the killer and the victims are amongst the new characters.   Of the long standing characters,  Harry’s husband, Pharamond “Fair” Haristeen DVM and best friend Susan Tucker, and deputy Cynthia Cooper all are central to this volume,  though other familiar characters like Mrs. Hobendogger do not appear this time.

As always, Ms. Brown churns out a first rate formulaic mystery with her usual skill and aplomb.   Those who enjoy Ms. Brown’s msytery novels will assuredly enjoy Hiss Of Death in which Harry has a lump on her breast, which tests positive for cancer.   Harry is treated with surgery and chemo therapy and then joins a rather hard core suburban gym to exercise and get back in shape afterwards.   She stumbles upon a number of murder victims whom it turns out are involved in a scam that involves manufacturing and delivering human growth hormone.   I did enjoy Hiss Of Death, as I most always enjoy Ms. Brown’s mysteries.

But.   It is disappointing that a writer with Ms. Brown’s well displayed over abundance of talent continues to simply churn out a couple of mystery novels each year to pay the bills,  rather than write more of the more literary fiction.   Ms. Brown’s non-genre fiction is so far and away superior to her scholck mysteries that I just can’t help but feel frustrated  by the continuing torrent of mysteries in her two series at the expense of creating more of the good stuff.

Hiss Of Death–  Recommended

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