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Murder at Monticello (Mrs. Murphy #3)
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Murder at Monticello

(Mrs. Murphy #3)

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  4,297 ratings  ·  175 reviews
an alternate cover edition can be found here

Mrs. Murphy digs into Virginia history--and gets her paws on a killer.

The most popular citizen of Virginia has been dead for nearly 170 years. That hasn't stopped the good people of tiny Crozet, Virginia, from taking pride in every aspect of Thomas Jefferson's life. But when an archaeological dig of the slave quarters at Jefferso
Mass Market Paperback, 284 pages
Published October 1995 by Bantam Books (first published 1994)
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Average rating 3.88  · 
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 ·  4,297 ratings  ·  175 reviews

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Mar 26, 2008 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 3-mystery
!?! Tacitly apologizing for slavery (paraphrasing: "today the races are so far apart, but under Jefferson they were so close!")? Defending Jefferson's ever-so-tender slave-owning practices? Suggesting that the Hemings women were promiscuous? What was Brown smoking when she wrote this?

Rita Mae, I'd suggest that the reason the races were so "close" during slavery was that one was beaten to death if it didn't do what the other insisted. Sexual acts included.
Sep 09, 2014 rated it liked it
I'm giving this three stars because there were two things I really didn't care for in this book. One, adultery takes place throughout most of the story. I've read books where adultery might be mentioned and that's the end of it, but when it's written how the adulterers are meeting up in secret and the affair keeps going on, it's a little much for me. I'm very sensitive to mates cheating on each other. Two, I had an extremely difficult time keeping all the names straight! It was insane! The story ...more
Somewhat boring, but also confusing in regards to characters. It was a short lite mystery but the 'cast of characters' page in the beginning is not pretentious, I found it necessary while thinking that it should not have been.
The story seems to offer excuses for marital infidelity and for the sexual use of black women in slavery by white men. I think the author is against those things but messages seem morally wishy-washy, as if the author has an opinion but is willing to try to explain the immo
Mar 20, 2019 rated it liked it
I was kind of shocked by a LOT of things in this book, language being a primary. Definitely not PC at all. Knowing a bit about Ms Brown, I do wonder how she views this book now, after the passage of time. Also, I spent a lot of time trying to reconcile the hero worship of Jefferson with the facts that have come to light since the book was published. So while I enjoy the series and the mystery was interesting, it left me with a lot of questions, mostly about things other than the book itself.
Mary Ann
Nov 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audio, kindle-e-books
Book 3. I know I am reading out of order, but I read as I am able to obtain. I borrowed this in both hardcover and audio format. I was listening to the story as I was driving and reading when I was at home. Harry is divorced from Fair and he is trying to win her back and tells her all that has been happening since he has been out of her life. She is working in the post office and taking care of her animals. She and Mrs. H and Big Mim are all interested in what is happening up at Thomas Jefferson ...more
Jul 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Another murder has occurred, not in, but near, Crozet, Virginia. This one, some 200 years in the past. But from past sins, new sins sometimes grow...and now another murder seems linked to this one. Harry, Mrs. Murphy, Tee Tucker and Pewter must get to the bottom of both murders before even more evil rears its ugly head! Who killed these men, and why? The answers are strangely linked, and lead right back to Monticello and it's famous owner, Andrew Jackson.

This book takes a look at Jackson and his
Jun 17, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: tried-to-read
I made it to chapter 9 before abandoning this. It’s 2020. I read other reviews that say the slavery-apologizing doesn’t clear up through the rest of the book, so I’m not going to spend more time on this one.
Did this one just not age well? I don’t think so. It was written in the 1990s, which is not that long ago!! The author should have known better! Maybe this is a display of white privilege in the south? I dunno. I guess I shouldn’t try to critique the book too much without reading the whole t
Dec 23, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
I liked this less than the first two in the series but only because there was a lot of emphasis that was somewhat confusing about Jefferson and his family/relationships. I believe this to be a minor setback and shall be reading number four soon!!!!
May 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
As always, Mrs Murphy and Tucker are the true stars. I did get a history lesson, which was interesting. Money, greed, bloodlines and self importance makes for a interesting story. The animals are just the icing on the cake. I will read more of Mrs. Murphy Mystery.
Feb 27, 2018 rated it it was ok
Caveat: I specifically read this as part of the 2018 Read Harder Challenge (Book Riot) to satisfy the #21 task: "A mystery by a person of color or LGBTQ+ author." It also qualified as my #15 task, since I was able to read it in one evening.

I was intrigued with this book since 1. my mother is a docent at Monticello today, and 2. Rita Mae Brown has one hellva LGBTQ/activist backstory. As a novel, it's a completely sufficient one-sitting murder mystery read, but it has unfortunately not aged well s
Murder at Monticello is not a favorite of mine in the Mrs. Murphy series. In fact so far it's my least favorite. I pick up this series when I need light, easy reading and simple, enjoyable characters. So I was disappointed that this story didn't feature the characters (human and animals) as strongly as the previous two books. It was very much focused on the mystery, which wouldn't have been so bad if it wasn't so confusing. If you're particularly knowledgeable/interested in American History and ...more
May 21, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: murder-mysteries
They say you can't judge a book by its cover, but let's face it...we all do it. Sometimes we are disappointed, sometimes we are pleasantly surprised.

This is case of "pleasantly surprised." I knew there would be talking animals, but that didn't faze me. Anyone who has a cat or a dog has long realized that their intelligence is great, although very different from that of human beings. The real surprise was the depth of the human characters in this book. Brown magnificently creates a cast of charac
May 05, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery
The remains of a body are found buried at Monticello, sparking interest in a 200 year old murder. As Kimball Haines searches for information about the identity of the corpse and the killer, he finds interesting details in local family histories. The body count in Crozet rises quickly as a certain postmistress begins to take interest in Kimball's case.

This is not the best of Rita Mae Brown's mystery series. There are several story lines happening at once, which is not a problem. This is common in
Peggy Sinden
Dec 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
Everything you ever wanted to know about Thomas Jefferson and more. The book centers on Monticello the family home of Mr. Jefferson and a two hundred year old unsolved murder. It takes a village to track the body found in a slave's house to the family ties deepest secret until now. When the truth comes out it involves all the families connected together by near and far relationships. Add in a cat by the name of Mrs. Murphy, Pewter her fat cat friend and Tucker the family Corgi. Ever wonder what ...more
Kay Hommedieu
Aug 10, 2018 rated it liked it
A pleasant read, though there was a lot going on: a murder discovery that happened during slavery times, a current murder and also an attempted murder. It was a lot for Mrs. Murphy (a cat) and her animal cohorts to keep up with. Their owner, Harry, the postmistress and two other women friends were very involved in all three of the for mentioned crimes so the animals did what they could to help them. I'll probably try another of these Sneaky Pie books in the future. 8/10/2018
May 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: e-books
The Harry and friends are investigating a murder that occurred in the 1800s at Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's home. Archaeology of the slave housing is occurring and a body is found under the foundations. The cold case is well written and interesting and how relates to present. Mrs Murphy, Tucker and Pewtor are secondary characters to the main plot.
Mar 14, 2018 rated it it was ok
Whoa -- not good.

I'm pretty sure that house-slaves were not 'mirror images' of their masters. No matter how well slaves might have been treated, they were slaves, and thus did not enjoy their freedom.
Feb 24, 2020 rated it liked it
Murder at Monticello is the third book in Rita Mae Brown's Mrs. Murphy Mystery series - but while Rita Mae has her name listed as the author, it's really her cat, Sneaky Pie Brown, who writes them!

Mary Minor (Harry) Haristeen can't help being in the center of the Crozet, Virginia gossip circle, being that she's the town's postmistress, and news always travels in her direction one way or another. Always at Harry's side are her faithful pet children, a feisty gray tiger cat named Mrs. Murphy, and
Dec 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Murder at Monticello takes the Mrs. Murphy series on a somewhat different road compared to the first two books in the series, but I found this one as enjoyable as the others. A murdered skeleton is uncovered in Monticello during an archaeological dig, and the citizens of Crozet, Virginia, lend a hand to the historians of Monticello to find out who the person was and why they were killed. Throughout the book there is a great deal of historical information provided, which makes it somewhat difficu ...more
Sep 08, 2019 rated it it was ok
Skip this book in the series! I usually like this series, but this book is definitely showing how dated it is. Even taking in account that this was published before the 1998 DNA study that lead the Monticello Foundation to assert that Jefferson was the father of at least one-if not all- of Hemming's children, this book still had too many white people discussing how "complex" slavery was. There are times when the author seems to acknowledge this fact, but still progresses with scenes in which whi ...more
I thought this would be a quick read to fulfill a reading challenge with an animal as a point-of-view character, but it was and it wasn't. It was a quick read, but if I weren't desperately trying to complete my remaining book challenge requirements, I would have quit reading this due to its romanticized view of slavery. This book felt so dated and is riddled with racist views. While rumors of a relationship between Sally Hemmings and Thomas Jefferson were alive and well when this novel was writt ...more
Christine (KizzieReads)
I'm giving this one a 3.5. It had its moments and towards the end it really took off, but it might be that I'm Canadian, but American history is not something I know a whole lot about. American politics as well. This is about a renovation that is going on at former president Jefferson's former house, Monticello. As this is happening, a 200 year old body is found and the gang yfy to figure out who he is and what happened. This is where it got dry for me. I got confused with them all talking about ...more
I have read the first two books and they were great, But Murder at Monticello was not up to par like the first two books. The culprit was easier to find than the first two books and while I liked the direction the culprit was going in terms of character building, they didn't reach their full potential and it was disappointing how the ending was handled. And while I'm glad there was history in the book, I don't like how she kept romanticizing slavery and the slave/master relationship. And while s ...more
Kristi Lamont
Dec 08, 2017 rated it it was ok
Well, I hate it, but this much-beloved by many cozy series is just not for me. Stories are too wordy, mysteries are both too simplistic and too convoluted at the same time (how'd that happen?). And, the biggie: I simply cannot suspend disbelief about the animals. Nope, not that they can talk and reason, that's totally plausible. It's that their owners all let them have free reign of house and county. Worries me to death (yes I know it's fiction) from the safety perspective, and it also seems alm ...more
Not my favorite in the Mrs. Murphy series, but that's mostly because it was extremely difficult at times (acknowledged by the characters, as well) to follow the genealogy of the descendants of Thomas Jefferson. The rest of the story was delightful, as usual, but I have my doubts about the historical accuracy of much of it. I'm not a Jefferson scholar, nor do I wish to be, so I can't attest to the accuracy and where the author took liberties, which I find vaguely disturbing. I prefer to know wher ...more
Oct 08, 2019 rated it did not like it
Wow, this book did not age well at all (even for the mid-90s it's not that great.) The mental gymnastics Brown goes through to absolve Jefferson of that teensy fact that he owned slaves are exhaustive. The murder plot is racist, I was really shocked by the casual inclusion of slurs (no matter that they were illustrative of what 'some people might say') and the focus on bloodlines left me feeling really uncomfortable. An author is not their characters, but this book has me side-eyeing Brown quite ...more
Morgan Thomas
Dec 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery-series
The third installment of Mrs. Murphy is my favorite so far. The story centers around Thomas Jefferson's beloved Monticello and his present day descendants. An archaeologist excavating the old slave quarters makes a grisly find that kicks off the story. Before the story concludes, you will be taken into world of genealogy and colonial America. Unlike it the first two novels that I read, I did not figure out who the real killer was until the last few pages.
Taylor Troncin
Jul 02, 2018 rated it liked it
I didn’t much care for this installment of the series, which is highly unfortunate as I adore Jefferson, mysteries, and animals... I think this book just had too much going on. Too many characters in the present and the past - and too many story lines to try to keep straight. Then it felt like there was a murder in every other chapter near the end. And what was with some of the character traits shifting? I will continue to read the series, and I hope the next book improves.
Jean-ann Stump
Jun 27, 2019 rated it it was ok
Sweet and comforting as usual. I was disappointed in two aspects. The mystery was extremely predictable. Also, I did not agree with the author's defense of Thomas Jefferson. I realize that the book was probably written before DNA tests proved that Jefferson fathered Sally Hemings's children, but even before it was obvious to most people that he started an affair with her her when she was very young.
Rachel “Koala”
Definitely a keeper

The installation of the Mrs Murphy mysteries is absolutely fantastic and makes me wish to read more of them. This author is something special, writing mysteries that aren't nearly as easy to figure out as some others. The animals are hilarious and endearing. All characters are developing with each chapter of every book. The style and wit of these books makes them unable to be put down until the end is reached. I plan to continue the series, of course.
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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 Un

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)
  • 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)
  • The Tail of the Tip-Off  (Mrs. Murphy, #11)

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