OUTFOXED by Rita Mae Brown


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Some of the people are wise, some foolish, some murderous. Ditto the animals—and not since Anthony Trollope has foxhunting been so vividly novelized. In Charlottesville, beautiful, elegant “Sister” Jane Arnold is the longtime Master of the Jefferson Hunt. As unabashed a nature-and-animal—lover as her author (Loose Lips, p. 646, etc.), she adores the job, but these days she’s less than her usual sanguine self. Maybe it’s because a young black vixen has been spotted on her farm, and, as everybody knows, “[e]verything happens in the black fox years.” Or maybe it’s because the matter of succession has been much on her mind. Sister is 70-plus and regarded as imperishable, though she well knows she isn’t. So who among the Hunt membership is best qualified to take the reins when she must relinquish them? Fontaine Buruss, an excellent rider, Virginia-born and -bred, is one candidate: flawed, naturally, yet Sister has known him and his flaws all his life. Some in Charlottesville view his major rival, Crawford Howard, as the quintessential Yankee carpetbagger, but he’s been generous with his money whenever the Hunt has needed it, which is often. Each hungers for the chance to put MFH (Master of Foxhounds) after his name, and each hates the other cordially. Before Sister can choose between them, however, the “black fox” prophecy is fulfilled. An extraordinarily brilliant Thanksgiving Day hunt ends in tragedy when Buruss winds up with a bullet in his chest. Although the leading suspect is Howard, of course, Sister knows there are others who might have wanted to pull that trigger. Cleverly enough to earn approval from Uncle Yancy, Target, Inky, et al., she isolates the one who actually did it. “Sister thinks like us,” the foxy establishment agrees. Original, funny, poignant, irresistible: Brown’s best work in years. (Author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-345-42818-8
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Ballantine
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 1999


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