The Big Cat Nap

July 3, 2013 - The Big Cat Nap (Rita Mae and Sneaky Pie Brown). As noted on the cover, this book is the 20th anniversary Mrs. Murphy mystery. And, after 20 years, it feels as though this series is getting a bit long in the tooth.

The main plotline deals with the murders of three auto mechanics at a chain that serves the area of Virginia where Mary Minor "Harry" Harristeen lives. Harry becomes involved in the case because she discovered the first body. Her love and knowledge of cars only fuels her curiosity. Later, with some help from her animal friends, Harry discovers the third body, and her snooping nearly makes her victim #4.

The rest of the 275-page book is taken up largely by the minutiae of Harry's life – church functions, maintaining her farm, and trying to sell some of her crops to the local organic grocery store. It's all a bit tedious, especially when combined with opinionated assertions about actual brand-name products.

This is the second consecutive book in which the author has gone down this road. Here, through her characters, she heaps praise on all things Subaru (full disclosure: I'm currently on my second Forester), but takes what appears to be a cheap shot at Dell computers (full disclosure: I've never owned a Dell). It's also clear that they don't make auto parts like they used to, especially if those new parts happen to be made in China.

Overall, it felt as though all this extraneous stuff overwhelmed the murder plot. That's not good when the murders of characters whose only purpose in the book is to be murdered don't seem to create much of a sense of urgency among the core cast. I'm not quite ready to give up on the series yet, but I'm getting close.