A Hiss Before Dying

October 11, 2020 - A Hiss Before Dying (Rita Mae and Sneaky Pie Brown). Something sinister is going down in sleepy, little Crozet, Virginia. It takes Mary Minor "Harry" Haristeen nearly 400 pages and two timelines separated by two centuries to figure out what it is.

One timeline is set in fall 2016. A truck driver turns up dead with half of his face ripped off. Then, during a rabbit chase, the body of a stranger is discovered. He had been shot and his body dumped on the grounds where the event was taking place. The man had in his possession a brass chit that slave owners used to give their slaves when they sent them on important errands. Who was this man and how did he end up murdered in Crozet? Harry has a few ideas and one of them just may get her killed.

The other timeline is set in the same location but more than 200 years earlier. We learn about life in 1786 when the survival of the newly independent country was hardly a sure thing. Families who have ties to the present day are introduced, and we learn to appreciate their talents and passions.

SPOILER ALERT: Other than the familial ties, the 18th Century timeline has no connection to the 21st Century timeline. In other words, nothing happens in 1786 that directly leads to the murder in 2016. The motive for the murder is not revenge for past sins or anything like that. So, basically, you can pretty much skip over all of the chapters set in 1786 and not miss anything. However, there are hints that something from this past may resurface in the near future – perhaps even in the next book. We'll just have to read on to find out.