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SCARLET FEVER by Rita Mae Brown


by Rita Mae Brown

Pub Date: Nov. 26th, 2019
ISBN: 978-0-593-13000-1
Publisher: Ballantine

A 12th round of vaguely homicidal doings for the worthies of Virginia’s Jefferson Hunt (Homeward Hound, 2018, etc.).

What is it with antiques shop owner Harry Dunbar? First he finds a Louis XV desk just like the one that was stolen from Master of Foxhounds Jane "Sister" Arnold years ago. Then he tells Sister that he’s willing to sell it to her and her partner, retired D.C. accountant Gray Lorillard, for a mere $20,000, since it’s only an 18th-century replica. Then, before she can make up her mind, he’s found dead at the bottom of the side staircase at Horse Country, Marion Maggiolo’s plush equine-themed gift shop. Did he fall, or was he pushed? That question would be front and center among a more déclassé crowd, but the question of foul play hardly seems to arise among the members of the Hunt, whose preoccupation with the avocation around which so many of them have organized their lives has left precious little time for extraneous gossip. And what gossip there is has focused on Morris Taylor, whose former career working on nuclear reactors has been overshadowed by the onset of a senile dementia whose main symptom is that “he says what everyone else is thinking.” While Morris’ older brother, insurance executive Drew, and Morris’ motherless son, Bainbridge, whose own favored avocations favor drugs and liquor, fret over what to do about their increasingly unpredictable relative, Sister, assisted by a gallery of regulars, from Gray’s 94-year-old aunt, Daniella Laprade, to Anne "Tootie" Harris, a divorcing ex-model’s daughter who dropped out of Princeton to come home and hunt, makes the most ritualistically discreet inquiries imaginable about a body count that will soon include more than Harry Dunbar’s body.

The cast of characters includes 28 foxhounds, 20 horses, 16 foxes, 3 birds, 3 house pets, and 25 humans. Tally-ho!