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Full Cry

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Full Cry

Jane Arnold Series, Book 3
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In the third novel of her captivating foxhunting series, Rita Mae Brown welcomes readers back for a final tour of a world where most business is conducted on horseback--and stables are de rigueur for...
In the third novel of her captivating foxhunting series, Rita Mae Brown welcomes readers back for a final tour of a world where most business is conducted on horseback--and stables are de rigueur for...
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Description-
  • In the third novel of her captivating foxhunting series, Rita Mae Brown welcomes readers back for a final tour of a world where most business is conducted on horseback--and stables are de rigueur for even the smallest of estates. Here, in the wealth-studded hills of Jefferson County, Virginia, even evil rides a mount.

    The all-important New Year's Hunt commences amid swirling light snow. It is the last formal hunt of the season; therefore, participation is required no matter how hungover riders are from toasting the midnight before. On this momentous occasion, "Sister" Jane Arnold, master of the foxhounds, announces her new joint master and the new president of the Jefferson Hunt. And her choices will prove to be no less than shocking.

    The day's festivities are quickly marred, though, by what appears on the surface to be an unrelated tragedy. Sam Lorillard, former shining star and Harvard Law School alum, lies dead of a stab wound on a baggage cart at the old train station, surrounded by the outcasts and vagabonds who composed his social circle at the end of life. No one can remember when Sam started drinking, but the downward spiral was swift--and seemingly deadly.

    Murder is followed by scandal when Sister Jane discovers dishonest hunting practices going on in a neighboring club. Unsure whether to turn a blind eye or report the infringement to the proper authority, Sister and her huntsman, Shaker Crown, decide to investigate a little further, with the help of their trusty hounds. But when they come a little too close to the staggering truth--and uncover an unforeseen connection to Lorillard's murder--they realize they might not survive to see the next New Year's Hunt.

    Intricate, witty, and full of the varied voices of creatures both great and small, Full Cry is an astute reminder that even those with the bluest of blood still bleed red.

    From the Hardcover edition.

Excerpts-
  • Chapter 1

    A bloodred cardinal sparkled against the snow-covered ground. He'd dropped from his perch to snatch a few bits of millet still visible by the red chokeberry shrubs scattered at the edge of the field. The snow base, six inches, obscured most of the seeds that the flaming bird liked to eat, but light winds kept a few delicacies dropping, including some still-succulent chokeberry seeds.

    Low gunmetal gray clouds, dense as fog in some spots, hung over the fresh white snow. In the center of this lovely thirty-acre hayfield on Orchard Hill Farm stood a lone sentinel, a 130-foot sugar maple. Surrounding the hayfield were forests of hardwoods and pine.

    Two whitetail deer bolted over the three-board fence. Deer season ran from mid-November to January 2 in this part of Virginia. Those benighted humans who had yet to reach their legal bag limit might be found squatting in the snow on this December 27, a cold Saturday.

    Bolting across the field in the direction opposite the deer came two sleek foxhounds. At first the cardinal, now joined by his mate, did not notice the hounds. The millet was too tasty. But when the birds heard the ruckus, they raised their crests and fluttered up to the oak branches as the hounds sped by.

    Before the birds could drop back to their feast, four more hounds raced past, snow whirling up behind their paws like iridescent confetti.

    In the distance, a hunting horn blew three long blasts, the signal for hounds to return.

    Jane Arnold, Master of Foxhounds for the Jefferson Hunt Club, checked her advance just inside the forest at the westernmost border of the hayfield. The snowfall increased, huge flakes sticking to the horse's coat for a moment, to her eyelashes. She felt the cool, moist pat of flakes on her red cheeks. As she exhaled, a stream of breath also came from her mount, a lovely bold thoroughbred, Rickyroo.

    Behind her, steam rising from their mounts' hindquarters and flanks, were fifty-four riders. Ahead was the huntsman, Shaker Crown, a wiry man in his middle forties, again lifting the hunting horn to his lips. The bulk of the pack, twenty couple--hounds are always counted in twos or couples--obediently awaited their next order.

    Sister cast her bright eyes over the treetops. Chickadees, wrens, and one woodpecker peered down at her. No foxes had just charged through here. Different birds had different responses to a predator like a fox. These creatures would have been disturbed, moved about. Crows, ravens, and starlings, on the other hand, would have lifted up in a flock and screamed bloody murder. They loathed being disturbed and despised foxes to the marrow of their light bones.

    On Sister's left, a lone figure remained poised at the fence line. If Shaker moved forward, then the whipper-in, Betty Franklin, would take the old tiger trap jump and keep well to the left. Betty, a wise hunter, knew not to press on too far ahead. The splinter of the pack, which had broken now, veered to the right, and the second whipper-in, Sybil Hawkes, was already in pursuit well away across the hayfield.

    Whether Sybil could turn the three couple of hounds troubled Sister. A pack should stay together--easier said than done. Sister blamed herself for this incident. It takes years and years, decades really, to build a level pack of hounds. She had included too many first-year entry--the hound equivalent of a first grader--in to- day's hunt.

    First-year entry sat in the kennels for Christmas Hunt, which had been last Saturday. Christmas Hunt, the third of the High Holy Days of hunting, overflows with people and excitement. Both she and her huntsman, whom Sister adored, felt the Christmas Hunt would...

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, Rita Will: Memoir of a Literary Rabble-Rouser, Loose Lips, and Outfoxed. An Emmy-nominated screenwriter and a poet, she lives in Afton, Virginia.

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    Random House Publishing Group
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Jane Arnold Series, Book 3
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