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Hiss of Death: A Mrs. Murphy Mystery

(Mrs. Murphy #19)

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  1,816 ratings  ·  248 reviews
Ah, spring! The brighter days and singing birds have a way of lifting peoples 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 exciteduntil a health crisis sends her reeling into the forbidding world of hospitals and ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published February 28th 2012 by Bantam (first published 2011)
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Average rating 3.68  · 
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 ·  1,816 ratings  ·  248 reviews

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Jun 01, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Apr 12, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: did-not-finish
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
 Ariadne Oliver
I like cosy mysteries where half of the main characters are animals. But this would have been way more enjoyable if the author didn't use her characters as mouthpieces to preach at the reader.
May 16, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries
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
Jul 27, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In Mrs. Murphy number 19, we learn that Harry has breast cancer. This was of particular interest to me because I went through the same 'biopsy' procedure on a doctor's table, after a suspicious mammogram. They called this a 'deep tissue biopsy' that would extract cells to see if they were cancerous. In Harry's case, it showed that she had cancerous cells. In mine, it showed that I did not. However, my doctor was not satisfied because she saw a pattern of calcium deposits clinging together in my ...more
Jae Roth
Jul 12, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 29, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Bibli-ophelia Clerico
Jun 03, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  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
Feb 25, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
I picked this book up because I have always trusted Rita Mae Brown's books to be good, cozy mysteries. Something to read in between heavier, more lengthy tomes. However, I am quickly becoming tired of the political sermonizing that is appearing more and more. The main characters are the same in this novel, but there is less development and they their dialogue is more trite and clichéd. And almost every character has something to say related to social or political issues. If Brown wants to talk ...more
Oct 25, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019
I liked the parts that weren't "preachy" about all the ills of the world but those were few and far between. It got to the point where it seemed to me that rants were being added to pad the length of the novel; I didn't feel they were necessary or appropriate. I love the Mrs. Murphy mysteries and will probably read the next couple, because I have them, but if they are as heavy on issues as this one, I won't be reading any more after that. It takes away from the fun (can you say that about a ...more
May 04, 2018 marked it as did-not-finish  ·  review of another edition
DNF'd around 34%. I am curious about writing cozy mysteries, so I am trying to read more of them. This one I hit a third of the way in and there still really wasn't a mystery - it was more of a book about a woman learning she has breast cancer and how everyone seems to have a form of cancer.

Is it my fault for picking the 19th book of a series? Probably. But it didn't make me want to go back to read the others either.
J.K. Riki
Oct 27, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: didn-t-finish
This is nothing less than the worst book I have ever attempted to read. I say that with no exaggeration, or as an attempt to grab attention. It is preachy, rambling, badly written, and in such serious need of harsh cuts it astounds me this was published at all. I am seeing in the other reviews that previous books in the series were better? I will try one of those, then. I am not sure how it could get worse. I have a new low-bar for published literature, and it is Hiss of Death.
Jun 29, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I always enjoy the animals in this series, but I felt that they were more of an after thought in this book.
Debra Scott
Too much politics not enough mystery
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 ...more
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
Nov 01, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-cozy
Used to love, love, love this series. It is now getting too preachy and too, too, too insular. I enjoyed the mystery; but I'm really getting tired of all the criticism of our country (to be fair, there is a lot to criticize; but this series doesn't seem to over any solutions and tends to get insular instead of trying to do something).

Have always love the animal's (Harry's dog and two cats) perspective and view of the human world. This is augmented occasionally by other animals - Harry's horses;
Jun 22, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  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
Kay (Brigidsmomma) Compton
I absolutely loved this one! It's been a while since I've had a chance to read a Sneaky Pie Brown book, and I really do enjoy the series. I was a tad saddened by the cancer stuff, but mainly as I have lost a sister to this dread disease and would hate to lose a main character and ergo a favored series to this disease as well. This was tastefully handled though and didn't really detract from the mystery at all. I am looking forward to a chance to get my hands on the latest couple of these as ...more
Mar 05, 2012 rated it it was ok
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)
Aug 02, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
What can I say? I'm loyal to a fault, which is the only reason I've kept reading these this long. I very rarely give out 1 star reviews, especially to authors whose books I've read many of. But it's really a struggle to continue this series at this point. It took forever to read this one, and I usually blast through cozies in a day or so. I read cozy mysteries for escapism. I mean, come's a book with talking animals. I obviously don't want reality here. I want to be entertained. ...more
Aug 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hiss of Death is a cozy mystery that deals with some pretty heavy topics. You can tell that Rita Mae Brown put all her heart and soul into this book, and her Afterword proves that. This book honors her loved ones who have succumbed to cancer and gives hope to those who have beaten it.

We accompany Harry Haristeen on the toughest battle of her life, after she is diagnosed with Stage One breast cancer. In addition, her friend Paula Benton dies from anaphylactic shock after being stung by a wasp,
Jul 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although I have been a fan of this series from the beginning (reading one of the books is like catching up with old friends; that kind of fan), the past few books have unnerved me with Rita Mae Brown's unrelenting soapbox speeches, particularly when they don't fit into the narrative particularly well. At times there's a character promoting her beliefs, which I find only a little annoying (because I generally agree with what s/he is saying), but sometimes the diatribes come from nowhere.

Bridgette Griffith
I enjoyed this one a bit more than the last few. However I wish the murders/ mystery had made more sense. We only find out the reason when the killer lays everything and even then it wasn't a very good explanation and made almost no sense with the plot Rita Mae was slightly better about her political/ general belief rants that she turns into conversations of the characters. Most of her info dumps had to do with cancer and illness and I guess I found that less grating than constantly hearing how ...more
Kayleigh Last
Jul 07, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Before reading this book, I had no opinion on animals talking in a cat murder mystery. I now hate the idea. This book was terribly written. Most of the dialogue was clunky and unnatural and since the majority of the book is dialogue it made for a boring and confusing read. The little bit of description that did exist was clunky or repetitive. I think that after being 2/3s through the book we can tell that the main character is from a small town and therefore knows everybody in it, so stop ...more
Lauren Dean
May 26, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-read
Overall, I really enjoy the Mrs. Murphy series, but this book was not as strong as some of the earlier novels. The plot itself was interesting, but like some of books right before it, it was rather preachy about all the things wrong with America these days, which can get a bit tiring even if you agree with some of the points! Because of the focus on the "soapboxing," I felt that the mystery itself took a backseat. I'm all for novels getting across different points of view, but I found this ...more
Sue Merrell
I love cats and a good mystery so I thought this should be a good tape to listen to in the car, but I forgot that my previous experience with Rita Mae Brown was disastrous. The author allows her right wing political beliefs to permeate every situation. Her characters whine about half the population not earning enough money to pay taxes, they talk about the medical center having been ruined by the government and big pharma, she even complains that a certain physician can't be trusted to operate ...more
Aug 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Harry throws herself in to spring and Mother Nature's wonder, but is reminded that Mother Nature's surprises are not always good. Now, Harry knows this as every farmer must, but this time, the nasty surprise is far closer than even her fields, and she finds herself thrown into the unfamiliar world of hospitals, disease, and uncertainty. What she does NOT need is a string of murders, all connected to the medical community! Along with Mrs. Murphy, Pewter, and Tee Tucker, Harry must find out why ...more
Peter Butler
Oct 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rita Mae Brown and Sneaky Pie Brown make a great team as they write their series of mysteries starring Mary Minor Harry Haristeen and her cat, Mrs. Murphy. Their books are relaxing, challenging and fun.
In Hiss of Death, Harry and her animal menagerie are off to solve a mystery again: when Harry needs medical attention, she finds a dead nurse without a mark on her indicating what might have happened. And she is not the only one who will die on the hospital staff.
The Browns take us into danger
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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.

Brown was born illegitimate in Hanover, Pennsylvania. She was raised by her biological mother's female cousin and the cousin's husband in York, Pennsylvania and later in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

Starting in the fall of 1962, Brown attended the

Other books in the series

Mrs. Murphy (1 - 10 of 30 books)
  • Wish You Were Here (Mrs. Murphy, #1)
  • Rest in Pieces (Mrs. Murphy #2)
  • Murder at Monticello (Mrs. Murphy #3)
  • Pay Dirt (Mrs. Murphy, #4)
  • Murder, She Meowed (Mrs. Murphy, #5)
  • Murder on the Prowl (Mrs. Murphy, #6)
  • Cat on the Scent (Mrs. Murphy #7)
  • Pawing Through the Past (Mrs. Murphy, #8)
  • Claws and Effect (Mrs. Murphy, #9)
  • Catch as Cat Can  (Mrs. Murphy, #10)

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