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Monday, March 7th 2005

2:09 PM

Add MURDER AT MONTICELLO to your pile of genealogy fiction to be read.

Genealogy and history lovers get out your pencil and paper. Write down each and everything you learn about the living and dead in Murder at Monticello and perhaps you will solve this one. The clues are there, but they are just as hidden and are as hard to connect as if you were searching for your own ancestors.

Murder at Monticello is the third in the Mrs. Murphy series by Rita Mea Brown. For me it was my first Mrs. Murphy book and a fun treat. For those of you who haven't read the Mrs. Murphy series, Mrs. Murphy is a cat and has a hand in help the humans solve the crime.

Mrs. Murphy and her human companion Harry Hairsteen get involved with Thomas Jefferson's life and times when the remains of a young white man turn up during an archeological excavation of a slave cabin at Monticello. It's clear he has been murdered. The local sheriff is determined to pursue the centuries old crime. With little more evidence than the body itself the sheriff enlists the help of Monticello's archeologist, Harry and the local patrons of the excavation. The past, however, has upset more than one resident of Corezt Virginia and Monticello's archeologist ends up being murdered for something he has uncovered. In an attempt to retrace the research steps of the archeologists, Harry, her animals, and friends begin looking into the family trees and family papers of some of Corzet's most prominent citizens. They think they have uncovered the truth and confront the killer only to find the motive for murder was more complicated than it first appeared.

In the Mrs. Murphy series the animals have conversations among themselves. I wasn't as annoyed by this as I thought I might be. The mystery follows a traditional cozy format and several plot lines run simultaneously. Many plot lines converge and are resolved, but some are left to your imagination. The relationships of the characters and the bloodlines of their ancestors are complicated. Only paper and pencil will assist in keeping many of them strait. The complicated relationships gives much of the genealogy elements to the story authenticity. So much so as to keep me from my own research for several days. Murder at Monticello will be a nice addition to your pile of genealogy fiction to be read.

Murder at Monticello   Rita Mae Brown   ISBN: 0553081403

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