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Hiss of Death: A Mrs. Murphy Mystery (Mrs. Murphy #19)

3.53 of 5 stars 3.53  ·  rating details  ·  984 ratings  ·  165 reviews
BONUS: This edition contains an excerpt from Rita Mae Brown's The Big Cat Nap.

Ah, spring! The brighter days and singing birds have a way of lifting people’s spirits, as well as those of their animal companions. But the season can also bring out the first blossoms of murder. As the redbuds open in Crozet, Virginia, Mary Minor “Harry” Haristeen is especially excited—until a
ebook, 240 pages
Published April 12th 2011 by Bantam (first published 2011)
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Community Reviews

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Dear Sneaky Pie Brown: I have always really liked the books that you allow Rita Mae Brown to co-author with you--and by the way, why does she always insist on having her name listed first?--but I have had a little problem with the last several books. I know that this is no way your fault, but would you please ask Rita Mae to tone down on the political opinions. While I may agree with some, or even most of these opinions, I find that they distract from the flow of the narrative and can even be of ...more
I didn't finish this book and let me tell you why. After two chapters I remembered why I hadn't finished the last Mrs. Murphy book either: the author's insistence of putting her opinions about government and politics and all kinds of other issues into the mouths and minds of her characters.

Here's the thing, I don't necessarily disagree with Brown's opinions on global climate change, entitlement reform, or gay rights, but this book series isn't the place to voice them. I've been reading these boo
So far this is much preachier than previous books in the series. Heavy-handed message delivery. I am a bit disappointed. Will see how this develops.

Almost 100 pages in now. Lurching from petroleum dependence to the high cost of farming to alternative technologies to health care reform to imported products made in China. Rita Mae, I fear, has lost the sense of lighthearted joy that percolated through the earlier books.

P. 160. Add misguided legislation that is crippling agriculture, the case for
Jae Roth
Remember when this was a great series? Not so much any more. This used to be my favorite series. It used to have exciting plots and wonderful, charming characters. Not so much any more. Now the plots are thin and boring. Now the characters are trite and flat.

The last two books have killed this series for me. Brown no longer seems to care about her stories or her readers. She spends most of her time, every third page or so, boring us and pulling the reader out of the story by beating us over the
Apparently, Rita Mae Brown has become old and cranky and taken Harry with her. So sad to see this series deteriorate into a platform for the author's pet peeves.

Also, it was absolutely unbelieveable that Harry would deal with breast cancer with no support from the regular characters she has loved and supported throughout the years. They are all missing from the book with little or no explanation. In their places are just pages of data dumping in dialogue form. No one would stand by and listen to
I have read everyone of Rita Mae Brown's books from her earliest to this one and I have either loved or enjoyed almost all of them. However in this book it seems that Ms. Brown has forgotten that the essence of a novel is a good story. Tell me a story and you can preach politics all you want, make social commentary, and let your opinions hang out. But remember to show me not to tell me. I can read the daily news and get all the insanity and political naivete that I want. But when I'm reading a b ...more
Anne Hawn Smith
This was a little disappointing. There were so many medical warnings that I felt like I was being preached at through most of the book. It became very tiresome. I think it is fine to slip in that the main character is going for a yearly check up or that another has been told by his doctor to lead a healthier life style, but it was everywhere you turned in this book and got in the way of the story. The mystery also didn't take center place. I never felt as if it developed because there were so ma ...more
Bibli-ophelia Clerico
Jun 10, 2011 Bibli-ophelia Clerico rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: NO ONE!
I have read a lot of the Mrs. Murphy, Pewter and Tucker books but I agree with the majority out there- this was one of my most horrendous reads of the year.
I understand the necessity of addressing the cancer part of the story, and it is important, hell, my mother, sister and aunt had breast cancer and I've had at least 5 other relatives die of it.
But if you want to air your uneducated backwater views on politics, write an editorial in your local paper. No one cares, is interested or wants it i
Georgiann Hennelly
HISS OF DEATH.Ah Spring as a wave of tilling and planting sweeps over Crozet,Virginia,Harry is especially excited this is her first year planting and harvesting grapes to sell.But than a health care crisis sends her reeling into the forbidden world of doctors and hospitals, treatments and procedures.Harry is diagnosed with stage one breast cancer surviving this journey will be tough on her Fair her husband and her animals mrs . Murphy, Pewter and Tucker will help steer her in the right direction ...more
Jun 29, 2012 LDuchess rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
If you want a treatise on cancer, ways of treating it, the medical profession, exercise programs, and vituperation about government, read this book.

If you want a good mystery, with funny comments by cats and dogs, go back to one of Brown's early novels.

She must have had to deliver a certain number of words, because she really padded this book. Even repeated a few sentences. (Does she not have an editor any more?) I'm really disappointed, as I had looked forward to reading this one. But it was d
Ms. Brown is still using her fiction to beat her readers over her head with her political views. I still love Tee Tucker, Mrs. Murphy and Pewter, but the subplot was both unrealistic and annoying. (view spoiler)
Where are the animals?
And why is the book full of political views I don't share and care for?
Healthcare? The doom of a nation.
Weapons for all! Because you can get shoot anytime.
How can I manage to live in Germany without weapons and with healthcare?
Oh yes, safe and happy.
Sorry, but I really don't want to read about Brown's political views. The animals are hardly there and when, then they are bitchy. It is not funny, it is annoying.
I tried to give the series a chance, but I don't think that it
I have enjoyed all of Rita Mae Brown's Harry Hairsteen stories very much and this one is no exception. Harry's diagnosis of breast cancer and her reactions to it are the springboard of the mystery, but they are also a very contemporary situation that all too many women are facing. Even though I am not a native Virginian, I enjoy the setting very much - I know the area and references to other parts of my state that are familiar to me gives a sense of intimacy to the story. As an "animal person" I ...more
It was not exactly what I expected. I don't really read mystery novels, and maybe there's a reason for that. I was not thrilled by the characters - there were too many of them and they were all one dimensional. Still the animals in the book were jewels. I realize I read like the last one in the series so maybe most or even all of the characters were firmly introduced in a previous book, but I didn't have a clue as to who they were. Despite that I did figure out who the culprit was, though some o ...more
Let me preface my coming remarks by saying. I truly love Rita Mae's writing. I've been reading her books for over 30 years, starting with a 2nd paperback printing of Ruby Fruits.

This new Harry book just isn't up to her usual standards. It started slow, jumped into a murder that Harry gets drawn into, and spends the next 40 or so pages discussing cancer (an important subject of course but) to the exclusion of what I thought should be the story. Then she gets into politics, which we all know from
Judy Iliff
I love Pewter, Mrs. Murphy, and Tucker! This time they have their work cut out for them. While Harry deals with health issues of her own, she also gets involved in trying to solve the mystery of 3 deaths of people, who work at the medical center. I think the thing I like best about these books is the extra understanding you get by the the animals have to say. It isn't hokey and it isn't nursery rhyme-ish. It just works. I'm sure that Sneaky Pie Brown, who co-writes these books with Ms. Brown, is ...more
I love these mysteries! I've read every one! I never know the culprit.
OK, after writing that, I have to add that I'm not a die-hard mystery lover.
I was attracted to these stories because of the cats and the other animals. Rita Mae Brown knows how to write about animals well. I can swear that my cats say the same things as Pewter and Mrs. Murphy.
I also have to add that I don't like these latter mysteries as well as the earlier ones, although this one was one of the better ones of the last few.
In this 19th entry of the Mrs. Murphy series, much of the emphasis is placed on women’s health issues. The book opens with preparations for the upcoming 5K run to benefit breast cancer awareness. Soon afterwards, Harry Haristeen (who, along with her pets, is the series’ central character) finds one of the benefit volunteers, well-liked nurse Paula Benton, dead from an allergic reaction to a bee sting. Though some wonder why she, a health professional, didn’t have a treatment kit available, it’s ...more
Mrs. Murphy is definitely getting political and topical in the mysteries. This one was the almost obligatory breast cancer issue -- so it was fitting that I read it in National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Though the topical aspect of this mystery was woven better into the lives of the characters than in previous episodes.

The one thing I am sorry about is that the mystery was wrapped up quickly and with little explanation. Again, I noticed that the series suffers from the Star Trek syndrome, i
Suspense Magazine
There’s a whole lot to like about “Hiss of Death”, the nineteenth “collaboration” between tiger cat Sneaky Pie Brown and her human, Rita Mae. This series is guaranteed to tackle some tough issues and the latest one doesn’t disappoint. It gives readers an inside look into what happens when a woman—in this case, lead character Mary Minor “Harry” Haristeen—is diagnosed with breast cancer.
The book opens with Harry and several friends from Central Virginia Hospital gearing up for the annual race to r
Jeannie and Louis Rigod
"Hiss of Death" made me uncomfortable on several levels. Now, this is not a negative, this means the contents of this book touched my personal emotions and made me reflect upon politics, health, friendships and then there was the reason for the mystery....murders!

Harry and retinue go through a health crisis that I have faced myself. My results were far more extreme in one sense, however, it really made me think about the science behind the illness. I was interested by how Harry handled the disea
Rita Mae Brown is my absolute favorite mystery author. And mysteries are my fave genre. This series is fantastic about a woman and her pets. The difference is that in these books the animals all talk to each other and usually solve things before their human. But theyre not campy. They are funny and heartwarming. Im not the biggest animal person but I get choked up when the animals rally around their humans in their time of need. And there is always a great animal rescue at the climax of her book ...more
Sphinx Feathers
I still love the Mrs. Murphy mysteries, but as the series has continued the focus seems to have shifted from the animals to the humans. Harry is very interesting, but I read the books because I love the animals. I do like the very obvious research that Rita Mae Brown puts in her books. I always learn something when I read one of her books, and that's something that I appreciate when reading, and something that doesn't always come when reading fiction.
I picked up this book by chance a few years ago and held it on hand for a day when I wanted a fun murder mystery. Being a Virginian, I thought that reading a book set in my home state would be enjoyable. But the story isn't gripping, the author's opinions about life and politics are off-putting, and even though I'm halfway through I don't even care who done it.

I'm looking forward to giving this away and getting the slot on my bookshelf back.
Alannah Davis
The mystery was a good one, carried off by a very strong and satisfying ending. I also liked the underlying story of Harry's breast cancer discovery and treatments. As always, Brown provides lush description of Virginia. Being a longtime fan of the Mrs. Murphy series, I felt like I was visiting old friends. This being said, I would have liked this installment of the series much better if there were a lot more of the animals' delightfully witty repartee, and a lot less of the author's political v ...more
Paul Lunger
The 19th installment in this series, "Hiss of Death", is a variation in style & theme for this series that has at times been all over the place. This time around "Harry" faces a diagnosis of breast cancer & our crimes relate to nurses. We also explore a little bit of the horse fertilization industry as well. Brown does a better than average job with the human side of things as we see the fear of the cancer & the hope that treatment can bring. The animals themselves even show an extra ...more
Horrible is the only word I have for it. I wanted a book that contained a mystery, not one that was nothing but political rants. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind the characters getting ill and bringing the real world into a story - in fact I prefer it, since it gives something to bond with a character over. But I found this story nothing but a political beat down on health care and environment issues, with little to no plot line, other than the character gets ill and somehow solves a murder. In ...more
The last few Sneaky Pie/Rita Mae Brown mysteries I have picked up did not hold my attention. I would get bored, flip to the end to see whodunit and then return it to the library unread.

This latest installation was much better, I didn't cheat and I finished the book in one day.

SP and RMB don't disappoint when it comes to grisly murders and the ever cutesy banter between the animals. But I found the conclusion to be confusing. I figured out who the murderer was before the end, but I might have to
Joseph Aul
I have read ALL of the Mrs. Murphy books and while some are better than others, this is the first one I could not even finish. It was more of a short story with lots of opinions and facts thrown in that have nothing to do with the plot - or what there was of one. It was absolutely awful. The cats and dogs were also nonexistent here. It was bad...bad...bad...
I did not buy this book last year because of the many reader reviews on Amazon that said that Ms. Brown was more than usually politically strident, and that it detracted a great deal from the novel. However, having borrowed a copy from a friend, I don't find this to be true. The opinions expressed by characters sometimes do drag the plot, but no more than usual. I think the fans of Mrs. Murphy must have come to expect this by now, and be willing to put up with a certain amount of this. One does ...more
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Rita Mae Brown is a prolific American writer, most known for her mysteries and other novels (Rubyfruit Jungle). She is also an Emmy-nominated screenwriter.
More about Rita Mae Brown...
Rubyfruit Jungle Wish You Were Here (Mrs. Murphy, #1) Murder, She Meowed (Mrs. Murphy, #5) Murder at Monticello (Mrs. Murphy #3) Rest in Pieces (Mrs. Murphy #2)

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