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Cat's Eyewitness

Cover of Cat's Eyewitness

Cat's Eyewitness

Mrs. Murphy Mystery Series, Book 13
It's no secret that cats are a mystery writer's best friend. Just ask the bestselling team of Rita Mae Brown and her furry partner, Sneaky Pie Brown, back on the prowl with another unforgettable whodunit. This time a controversial miracle in Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains sparks religious fervor--and a suspicious death. Now the indefatigable felines Mrs. Murphy and Pewter, along with the dogged corgi Tee Tucker, must trust their animal instincts to sniff out the worst of human nature....

With the holidays approaching, Mary Minor "Harry" Haristeen and her best friend, Susan Tucker, take a much-needed time-out at the mountain monastery of Mount Carmel. There, under the benevolent gaze of the statue of the Virgin Mary, their worldly worries are soon overshadowed. For in front of their very eyes the statue begins to cry tears of blood.

Legend has it that Mary's crimson tears are harbingers of crises. And though skeptical, the ever-practical Harry can already see one on the horizon. If leaked, news of the so-called miracle could turn the monastery and the town of Crozet into a circus. What Harry doesn't foresee is murder....

When Susan's great-uncle Thomas, a resident monk, is found frozen to death at the base of the statue, foul play is ruled out--at first. But at Harry's urging, the body is exhumed for an autopsy. There's just one problem: the coffin is empty. That's when Mrs. Murphy, Pewter, and Tucker get involved. Then there's the shocking revelation of a mystery that has perplexed the citizens of Crozet for ages.

With Christmas around the corner and the monastery overrun by the faithful, all Harry's meddling menagerie can do is stay on her trail as she jumps knee-deep into an unofficial investigation--one that becomes more dangerous when another Crozet citizen meets an untimely demise. In this case it will be a miracle if Harry stays alive....

From the Hardcover edition.
It's no secret that cats are a mystery writer's best friend. Just ask the bestselling team of Rita Mae Brown and her furry partner, Sneaky Pie Brown, back on the prowl with another unforgettable whodunit. This time a controversial miracle in Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains sparks religious fervor--and a suspicious death. Now the indefatigable felines Mrs. Murphy and Pewter, along with the dogged corgi Tee Tucker, must trust their animal instincts to sniff out the worst of human nature....

With the holidays approaching, Mary Minor "Harry" Haristeen and her best friend, Susan Tucker, take a much-needed time-out at the mountain monastery of Mount Carmel. There, under the benevolent gaze of the statue of the Virgin Mary, their worldly worries are soon overshadowed. For in front of their very eyes the statue begins to cry tears of blood.

Legend has it that Mary's crimson tears are harbingers of crises. And though skeptical, the ever-practical Harry can already see one on the horizon. If leaked, news of the so-called miracle could turn the monastery and the town of Crozet into a circus. What Harry doesn't foresee is murder....

When Susan's great-uncle Thomas, a resident monk, is found frozen to death at the base of the statue, foul play is ruled out--at first. But at Harry's urging, the body is exhumed for an autopsy. There's just one problem: the coffin is empty. That's when Mrs. Murphy, Pewter, and Tucker get involved. Then there's the shocking revelation of a mystery that has perplexed the citizens of Crozet for ages.

With Christmas around the corner and the monastery overrun by the faithful, all Harry's meddling menagerie can do is stay on her trail as she jumps knee-deep into an unofficial investigation--one that becomes more dangerous when another Crozet citizen meets an untimely demise. In this case it will be a miracle if Harry stays alive....

From the Hardcover edition.
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  • Chapter One A thin trickle of water zigzagged over the Virgin Mary's cold face. She gazed westward from her home on top of the Blue Ridge Mountains, between Afton Gap and Humpback Mountain. Her elevation approached two thousand two hundred feet. The fertile expanse of the Shenandoah Valley spread below, rolling westward to the Allegheny Mountains. The Valley, made immortal by the military genius of Stonewall Jackson, had been beloved of the Native Americans long before the European immigrants, refugees, and mountebanks ever beheld its calming beauty.

    Had the Blessed Virgin Mother been able to turn her head and look east, undulating hills traversed with ravines and ridges stopping at the Southwest Range would have delighted her eyes. The last spur of the Appalachian Mountain chain, the Southwest Range gives way on its eastern slopes to land with a gentle roll. These rich fields and forests drop until the Fall Line, the true geographic boundary between low country and up-country, between sandy soils, red clay, and loam mixtures. This line also divided the Iroquois-speaking peoples from the Sioux-speaking peoples. Neither side liked the other much, warfare and raids occurring with savage regularity. Into this political hot zone trooped the English, the first surviving colony founded in 1607. Those that lived, learned.

    The conclusion of the Revolutionary War in 1781, one hundred and seventy-four years after Jamestown was founded, unleashed an exuberance of trade, exploration, birthrate, and optimism. Even the fierce Monocan tribe and their allies, who had kept the whites from building safe communities ever westward of the Fall Line, couldn't hold them back.

    The land on which Mary stood was settled in 1794 by Catholics more comfortable on the crest of the mountains than walking among their hustling Protestant neighbors in Richmond or the Tidewater. They built a log chapel. The land and altitude were good for apples. Orchards flourished. After the Constitutional Convention, the new Constitution made crystal clear the separation between church and state. Many of the apple-growing Catholics moved down the mountain into Nelson and Albemarle Counties on the eastern slopes, Augusta County on the western slopes. Nestled in the valleys, the temperature warmer, the winds less fierce than on the mountaintop, the former religious refugees prospered.

    The hard-core mountain people, many of them distillers of clear liquor--the mountain streams being wonderful for such endeavors--stayed in the hollows. They didn't want to live on a mountaintop.

    Finally in 1866 a war-weary Confederate captain founded a monastic order based on the Carmelites. He called it Mt. Carmel after the original in Palestine. Carmelite orders were being founded in the north after the War Between the States. Captain Ainsly was defiant and remained independent of the international monastic order even though he followed their rules. Instead of being known as Whitefriars, the monks on Afton Mountain were called Greyfriars because of their gray wool robes, an echo of their uniform color.

    The monastery itself was not open to the public. The dairy, the chandler's building, the food building with honey and jams, and the ironmonger's forge were open, though, as were the exquisite gardens. The products were made by the monks themselves. Applejack was their biggest seller. Made on the grounds from apples grown in the old orchards, the brothers took special care with their distillery. Folks said Greyfriars' applejack could kick one harder than a mule.

    The Virgin Mary stood on the highest point of land, the spring gardens nestled below her. She was carved from native soapstone by another Confederate...
About the Author-
  • Rita Mae Brown is the bestselling author of Rubyfruit Jungle, In Her Day, Six of One, Southern Discomfort, Sudden Death, High Hearts, Bingo, Starting From Scratch: A Different Kind of Writers' Manual, Venus Envy, Dolley: A Novel of Dolley Madison in Love and War, Riding Shotgun, and Rita Will: Memoir of a Literary Rabble-Rouser. An Emmy nominated screenwriter and a poet, she lives in Afton, VA.

    Sneaky Pie Brown, a tiger cat born somewhere in Albemarle County, Virginia, was discovered by Rita Mae Brown at her local SPCA. In addition to Sneaky Pie's Cookbook for Mystery Lovers, Rita Mae and Sneaky Pie have collaborated on thirteen Mrs. Murphy mysteries: Wish You Were Here; Rest in Pieces; Murder at Monticello; Pay Dirt; Murder, She Meowed; Murder on the Prowl; Cat on the Scent; Pawing Through the Past; Claws and Effect; Catch as Cat Can; The Tail of the Tip-Off; Whisker of Evil; and Cat's Eyewitness.

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Mrs. Murphy Mystery Series, Book 13
Rita Mae Brown
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