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by Rita Mae Brown & Sneaky Pie Brown

Pub Date: June 4th, 2019
ISBN: 978-0-425-28718-7
Publisher: Bantam

A present-day killer strikes during the preparations for a veterans’ benefit while an 18th-century family attempts to modernize their household routines.

After working to ready the Institute at Aldie, Virginia, a site for agricultural programming and the current home of the National Beagle Club of America, for the Hounds F4R Heroes fundraiser for veterans, Harry Haristeen and Susan Tucker join their fellow volunteers for some fireside political musings. Arlene Billeaud and Jason and Clare Holzknect, whose strong political opinions stem from their war experiences, agree on the importance of supporting veterans through the beagle-focused fundraiser. Harry’s longtime cat companion, Mrs. Murphy, along with Pewter, veteran dog companion Tee Tucker, and new addition Pirate join the festive preparations. But they’re startled when they spy Ruffy, an unfamiliar beagle who has the distinction of being a ghost dog on Aldie’s premises. Conversations about politics and beagles are interspersed with the ongoing story of Cloverfields (Probable Claws, 2018, etc.), an 18th-century farm whose upstairs/downstairs dynamics inform the problem of a murdered body that Harry’s been pondering almost as an aside. Modern times see a killer at Aldie that Ruffy’s trying to keep quiet; the story of past times alternates between a trio of runaway slaves and a romance that may unite two farms. It’s never entirely clear why the focus is split between past and present, but that doesn’t seem to be Brown’s leading concern anyway, though it’s hard to say just what that concern is this time or where the series is going.

Franchise fans who aren’t enamored of the more recent focus on sport hunting or political philosophy will feel even further alienated.