Outfoxed: A Novel (Foxhunting Mysteries) - Rita Mae Brown
I first heard about Outfoxed on the Rita Mae Brown Yahoo! Club list, how for the first time ever she had written a mystery story that did not incorporate her famous feline detective, Mrs. Murphy. Truthfully, I was elated, and not because I don`t like the Mrs. Murphy series (I do like the books), but I thought it would nice for once to read something different from Ms. Brown, and I admit I found the foxhunting tack appealing. Since I live in the Tidewater area of Virginia, about two to three hours east of where the novel is set, I believed that would appeal to me as well.

Mrs. Murphy is nowhere to be found in this story; however, we are treated instead to a chorus of dialogues between foxhounds, foxes, domesticated animals, two-foot high owls, crows with bad attitudes, and horses struggling under the girth of heavyset fox hunters. The woodsy area surrounding the Jefferson Hunt Club, in Ms. Brown`s interpretation, sounds like an enchanted forest from a Disney film. Therefore, I`ll tell you right away that if you found the Mrs. Murphy books silly because of this device, you`ll think Outfoxed ludicrous.

Me? I liked the core of the story which concerned the Jefferson Hunt Club and its master, Jane "Sister" Arnold, trying to stay alive financially through the next century. Though still spry and cognizant when it comes to matters of the hunt, the septuagenarian Sister realizes that a successor must be chosen to eventually replace her. Problem is, the two candidates are 1) a coke-snorting womanizer; and 2) an egotistical jerk who thinks he can buy his way into the position (not only that, but he`s - gasp - a Yankee!).

When one of these two is murdered, Sister takes it upon herself to track the killer, not only to preserve the diginity of the club and its members but to settle her own score with the criminal. Seems a being of the four-footed variety is also a victim in this crime, and Sister does not take too kindly that, either.

As far as the mystery goes, it happens late and is wrapped up rather quickly for my tastes. The key to enjoying Outfoxed lies in being patient and enjoying the detailed descriptions of the hunt as commandeered by Sister Arnold, a true, strong character typical of Brown`s pen.