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A Hiss Before Dying

(Mrs. Murphy #26)

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  1,179 ratings  ·  177 reviews
Rita Mae Brown and her feline co-author Sneaky Pie Brown are back chasing mystery with their unique circle of Southern sleuths. And though the changing colors of fall are a beauty to behold, this year the scattered leaves hide a grim surprise.

Autumn is in the air in the Blue Ridge Mountain community of Crozet, Virginia--and all the traditions of the changing seasons are u
Hardcover, 359 pages
Published May 30th 2017 by Bantam
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Phyllis Griffiths Sneaky Pie must be into several reincatnations by now. Cats do come back, as the old saying goes. I have had experience with that.

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 ·  1,179 ratings  ·  177 reviews

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Jul 18, 2021 rated it liked it

In this 26th book in the 'Mrs. Murphy' series, farmer/amateur sleuth Harry Haristeen becomes involved in the investigation of two deaths.

As usual, Harry's 'talking pets' - the cats Mrs. Murphy and Pewter and the corgi Tucker - add their comments to the story.

The book can be read as a standalone.


Harry Haristeen, a lifelong resident of Crozet - in Albemarle County, Virginia - has a lot going on.

She's married to a large animal veterinarian; she takes care of her farm and horses; she's on a c
Rickie Budnek
Mar 22, 2017 rated it it was ok
The story in the present time is good, but I am getting really tired of paying money to read about my favorite characters, only to find them in half the book. The other half is history that takes place more than a hundred years ago. I want the books to go back to my favorite characters. The author may be tired of them, but I am not.
I have been a fan of the Mrs. Murphy series by Rita Mae Brown (with the assistance of Sneaky Pie Brown) since the very beginning when Mary Minor "Harry'' Harristeen was the postmaster of Crozet, Virginia and took her lovely pets to work with her at the post office. The series now has 26 books! Alas, I have not read all of got in the way and somewhere back just after Harry remarried her ex-husband Fair (the local vet) I lost track of the series. Now that I'm a bit older (just how ol ...more
Anam Cara
Jun 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
It had been some time since I'd read a book by Rita Mae Brown. When I saw this title, it was like seeing an old friend who I had missed and was happy to spend time with. Since it has been so long, I don't know if the author had changed her methodology in more recent books, but loved that the story wove back and forth between present day and the late 18th century. It was easy to read, but kept me wondering how the two stories would finally come together. Although I tend to think of Rita Mae Brown ...more
May 15, 2017 rated it liked it
I have read all of the Sneaky Pie mysteries and, overall, have enjoyed every one - some more than others. I still do enjoy the characters of the present day mysteries - Harry and all of her friends, family and assorted pets. Yes, I also like learning American history. However, I am not really enjoying her new formula with these last books, that of two stories alternating chapters. Honestly, I want one or the other. It's confusing and, as a reader of her stories from the very first book, those ar ...more
Jun 19, 2017 rated it it was ok
I have to say this is not what I expected. The animals are a contrived idea and they do not contribute anything to the solving of the mystery. As for the plot, at first I thought that the interwoven plot lines could have stood alone. Upon reflection I see that it is the hasty ending that makes it seem like so.

Nonetheless, I enjoyed the ride and I am not entirely convinced I will not give Brown another shot in the future.
Jun 13, 2018 rated it it was ok
Not my favorite. Too much history. I like history, but not the back and forth. Not enough from the main characters. I also missed the antics of all the animals.😩😩
Clare O'Beara
Looking at history of Virginia and the life of slaves, as interludes between modern day crime solving. The two periods are interlinked by tokens such as a slave pass which a slave could use to leave the plantation on an errand.

We meet Harry and her cats and dog, and many of the usual cast of locals. I always enjoy the animals and chatter and the friendship of local people. We see much of the countryside in autumn.
I was less interested in the past section which, though well realised, felt like
Jul 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
It is autumn 2016 and in Crozet Virginia people are beginning to prep for the long winter ahead. Mary Minor “Harry” Harristeen certainly has enough chores to do as well as her work on various committees but Harry being Harry, she can't help getting involved when not one but two bodies turn up. Harry thinks the deaths may be related but how? In 1785 Virginia it is winter and folks are just trying to make it through - both slaves and their owners. Life is not easy, especially for the slaves who wo ...more
Mary Ann
Sep 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindle-e-books, audio
Issues with this book:

1. Breast Cancer run in April - usually held in October as that is the pink ribbon month.

2. Have surgery and starts doing weighted lifting before 6 weeks have passed.

3. All the radiation treatments so close together (I have a friend who just did these).

On the whole, the book was fun, but I had so many issues that I had to just ignore them and let the book move on. I felt like the book was going over 6 to 8 weeks, but it was all taking place in 8 days. It just was not a go
Debbie Maskus
Jun 14, 2017 rated it liked it
Sneaky Pie' s editing shows that cats can make mistakes, such as the sentence "an elderly men". In whole the book presented many facets of life in Virginia through the eyes of animals and the people. I love the adage the "idle hands do the Devil's work." The lack of a centralized currency shows one of the many problems facing the "new" United States. No matter what, greed and cunning dominate the quest to control. I felt that the animals talked too often, and I missed hearing from their humans. ...more
Joy Smith
Jun 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, history
This is the second of her recent mysteries that include historical segments. (I haven't read the first one, and I don't recall the title.) I preferred the current storyline with Harry and her companions. (I confess that I skimmed some of the historical interludes.) Lots of background about slavery, politics, and the environment; but I love most the interplay between Tucker and the cats, the hounds, and the wildlife. Exciting climax, and I appreciated the wrap up on the plantations and back in th ...more
Mar 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
My 26th Mrs. Murphy and only one more to go before I am current and caught up with this wonderful series! I have come to like the dual stories that have recently begun to appear in the most recent Mrs. Murphy's. The story of the 1700's families have grown interesting in their little piece of Americana they impart about those days. As usual, there were lots of fun with Pewter and Tucker fighting with each other. I hope Rita Mae Brown continues to write them for many more years. I know there is a ...more
Crystal Karre
May 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Besides the recurring characters throwing in some history always makes these books a page turner
Maureen FitzPatrick

I am a big Rita Mae Brown fan but this book tried to include too much in it. It was confusing at times in its attempt to merge history with the present day. This was a bit disappointing.
Jan 23, 2021 rated it liked it

Post publishes February 19 2021

Jun 19, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: cozies, cats
I'm not really a fan of the split timeline books. There's too many characters and plot lines, and I didn't see much connection between the two stories. I'd rather read about more of the present-day characters from the earlier books who seem to have disappeared in these later books. What's happening with Miranda, Big Mim, Little Mim, and others that I remember? Even Harry's animals had smaller parts this time, mainly spats between Pewter and Tucker. ...more
Jun 27, 2017 rated it it was ok
This is the second book in the Mrs. Murphy series which alternates between present time and long long ago. I don't enjoy those time jumps, I don't enjoy the storyline about the slaves and their (mis)treatment.

When I pick up a Mrs. Murphy book, I want to read about Harry, Faith, their animals, their friends and a well written present day mystery.

I don't want to read about some historical stuff which happens to cause some bad things today, but is finished off in a way I can't even remember the c
Aug 18, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery
In 1933 the first Welsh Corgis were brought to the United States by American breeder Mrs Lewis Roesler (from Wikipedia) which means there wasn't one in the US in the 18th century. The other problem I have with this is the total tin ear or insensitivity Brown displays when she discusses the slave "chits" (they were like a dog tag that showed your owner) used to identify slaves that had permission to leave their plantation on an errand for their owner. I've always thought that Brown has a black de ...more
Mar 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a long running series with animals narrating the story. Usually a murder to solve has Sneaky Pie and her friends helping Mary solve the case. The last couple of books in this series have been using the duel timeline which is not my favorite style of reading. Set in the Blueridge mountains the story is always good and animal lovers will enjoy the cats, dogs, horses and wild animals interacting. Rita Mae Brown also writes the Sister Jane books which share the animal interaction.
Brenda Freeman
Mar 02, 2017 rated it liked it
Two mysteries in one. Always enjoy the animal perspectives in this series.
Lynn Hayward-Bisbee
So difficult to give a review of this book as it was with the previous two. I have been a fan of Rita Mae Brown and her Sneaky Pie series since the very beginning and I love them for all the usual reasons given by readers: I love the characters, the setting, but most of all, the animals and their take on the world. Being an animal lover and living in the country myself, the best things about these novels has always been the humans' interaction with the animals.

However, in this novel as well as t
May 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
It is always a pleasure to open a new Mrs. Murphy mystery! A Hiss Before Dying is exciting, a charming blend of 18th and 21st century Crozet, plantations and farms, slaves and hired hands. We meet many 18th century people while enjoying the ‘regulars’ – Harry and Fair, Susan and Ned, Reverend Jones, and Mrs. Hoggendobber, and of course, Mrs. Murphy, Pewter, and Tee Tucker.

Mignon, a young slave, runs away in 1786. How will her story and resulting actions effect Harry and her friends today? Of th
Jun 15, 2017 rated it liked it
Fans of Mary Haristeen (Harry), her family and friends, and her animals–cats Mrs. Murphy and Pewter, and Corgi Tee Tucker–will find all of them up to their usual activities in A HISS BEFORE DYING, the twenty seventh in the Rita Mae Brown & Sneaky Pie Brown series. She adds people and pets who lived in the same Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia locale in 1785. At the beginning of the book, here is a list of main characters, human and animal, divided by time and location.
The plot of the 2016 story
DelAnne Frazee
Aug 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
Title: A Hiss Before Dying - Mrs Murphy Mystery Book 26
Author: Rita Mae Brown - & Sneaky Pie Brown
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Published: 5-30-2017
Pages: 384
Genre: Thriller & Mystery
Sub-Genre: Cozy Mystery, Animals, Suspense, Amateur Sleuths, Humor & Satire, Adventure
ISBN: 9780554492494
ASIN: B01LK9H976
Reviewed For NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group
Reviewer: DelAnne
Rating: 4.5 Stars

Autumn is in the air in the Blue Ridge Mountain community of Crozet, Virginia—and all the tradit
JoAnne McMaster (Any Good Book)
May 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mysteries
Harry Haristeen and her husband Fair live on a farm in Virginia along with their two cats, Pewter and Mrs. Murphy, and corgi Tucker. It's coming on autumn, the days are cooler and nights shorter. While attending the annual rabbit chase on a friend's land, the pack of beagles discovers the dead body of a man. While he's unknown to anyone, Harry does recognize what's around his neck: a chit from the American Revolution with the number 5 on it. Why he would have it is a mystery until Harry informs ...more
Marilyn Watson
May 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: have-read
Rita Mae Brown wrote a multi-layered story of friends and family, interspersed with historical facts, in this cozy. There are two mysteries occurring in the book. I found myself wishing I had started with the first book, because the animals in this series are full of personality and quite amusing. The beauty of fall in the Blue Ridge Mountain area of Crozet, Virginia had lovely descriptions, almost like poetry at times.

In the opening Chapter, the three animals, Pewter, Tucker, and Mrs. Murphy a
This is my first Rita Mae Brown novel, and I'm not really sure what to say. I'd love to say good things about it; she's a prolific author with a strong following, and I understand that her Rubyfruit Jungle remains groundbreaking. This, though...well, I'll just jump right in.

Okay, here's the thing: it's fine as a stand-alone novel, but I kind of wondered if the huge number of characters would have been easier to track if I'd read the first in this series. Brown introduces her characters before th
Paul Lunger
The 26th installment in Rita Mae Brown's "Mrs. Murphy" series, "A Hiss Before Dying", is another split mystery between 2016 & 1786 as we the reader again deal with a pair of stories that at times really don't need the other. In 2016, we start with the discovery of a body near Crozet along with a murder of another person which is confirmed as such. In 1786, we have more of the story of the Cloverfield area along w/ an escaped slave & brothel in Richmond. Both stories at times for the most part fu ...more
Apr 03, 2021 rated it did not like it
I found this book at a little free library near my house and was excited to find a new murder mystery series. Unfortunately, the book has proven painful to read. It's extremely overcomplicated with over 50 characters split between two timelines. These characters include talking animals, which frankly feels very hokey (p.14 "Mrs. Murphy, in Harry's lap, added her two cents. 'Corgi fur isn't as soft as ours.'"). The conversations between characters are slow moving and boring; the handling of the c ...more
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Madison Mega-Mara...: #72 - A Hiss Before Dying 1 3 May 02, 2018 10:55AM  

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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 31 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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