Copyright © 1999 Henrietta W. Hay
June 4, 1999
Summer is here - almost. Time for reading mysteries. Mysteries are
relaxing and easy to hold - just right for a hot day -- or any day, for
You may think that fictional mysteries are always solved by detectives
and police officers. 'Tain't necessarily so. Anybody over five is
eligible to chase the bad guys in a modern mystery. We even have sleuths
with four legs, tails and very curious whiskers.
That feline author, Sneaky Pie Brown and his co-author, Rita Mae Brown,
have a new book out, "Cat on the Scent." Like others in this series,
this is set in Crozet, Virginia. Mary Miner "Harry" Haristeen, the
Postmistress can solve any mystery, but the leg work and most of the
brain work is done by Mrs. Murphy, her luxury loving tiger cat, Pewter
the portly gray cat, and a Welsh Corgi named Tee Tucker. In "Cat on
the Scent", the citizens are preparing for a local Civil war
re-enactment. When somebody uses real bullets instead of blanks, the
furry trio goes to work. There is a connection between the bullet and a
missing airplane -- but why should I tell you any more and spoil the
fun? Besides, I haven't finished it yet.
Meet Miss Zukas, the reference librarian in the Bellhaven, Oregon,
Public Library, the creation of Jo Dereske. My friend the philosopher,
who is an expert on this subject and introduced me to Miss Zukas,
describes this very prim and proper librarian. "Miss Zukas is a peahen
with the heart of a tiger. She is fortunate to have found a career in a
profession that prizes order and discipline, traits which take her into
some very untidy areas of human behavior." In "Miss Zukas and the Stroke
of Death," our heroine agrees to join the library team to race in the
canoe leg of the "Snow to Surf", a tortuous 85 mile relay from the 4,300
foot level of Mount Baker to Bellingham Bay. And can that proper
librarian ever paddle a canoe! She also solves a murder, in a very
orderly, disciplined manner. I always said librarians can do anything.
A really unusual sleuth has been created by Mardi Oakley Medawar, an
eastern band Cherokee author. His name is Tay-bodal, a young Kiowa
Indian, and the book is "Death at Rainy Mountain." The story takes
place in 1866 when the principle chief, Little Bluff died and one of the
three possible successors is murdered. Although he is a loner who
spends his time studying healing herbs, Tay-bodal takes on the task of
finding who killed Coyote Walking and he succeeds. On the way he finds
romance and acceptance.
This is a beautiful book, with the basic plot of a modern mystery set
in a in a time and culture strange to most of us.
I found a gardening sleuth recently in "Death of a Political Plant."
Her name is Louise Eldridge and she is the creation of Ann Ripley.
Louise has a TV show, "Gardening with Nature," and has just been named
official "Plant Person of the Year," achievements which have made her a
celebrity in Washington D. C. She manages to combine love of gardening
with politics and a successful search for a couple of bad guys. For you
serious gardeners, the author has scattered a number of gardening
essays amidst the mayhem.
There is a new Nevada Barr book out, "Liberty Falling." This one does
not take place in the west or under water or in a cave. Instead, Park
Ranger Anna Pigeon heads for Manhattan where her sister is seriously
ill. She bunks with a ranger friend on Liberty Island, and spends her
spare time exploring Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. Anna's
adventures are always exciting, but Barr's descriptions of National
Parks and Monuments are the best parts of her books. "Forty-two feet up
inside Lady Liberty's right arm, Anna ascended in a circular twilight of
copper, false stars created by pinprick holes in the lady's skin. She
imagined herself a bizarre corpuscle in the brachial artery of a
giantess. The torch swayed slightly in the stiff breeze off the
These books and so many other mysteries are just waiting There is bad
news. There is no new Marne Davis Kellogg book out. Oh well, I can be