Take a mystery break

    With all of the distractions of the holidays, sometimes it’s hard to sneak in a little fun reading, and you grow to miss it. Well, take a break from the cards and wrapping or if you get a little quiet time while the treats are baking or the laundry is spinning, to read “Santa Clawed” by Rita Mae Brown and her feline co-author Sneaky Pie Brown.
    If you’re a mystery fan who loves animals, this is just right — and it has a holiday theme so you need not feel guilty.
   “Santa Clawed” is part of the Mrs. Murphy series and stars three creatures — two cats, Mrs. Murphy and Pewter, and a dog, Tucker — along with their owner, Mary Minor “Harry” Haristeen.
   While residents of the town of Crozet, Va., are in the midst of Christmas preparations, brothers from a nearby monastery who run a tree farm begin turning up dead. Harry, who finds one of the unfortunate victims, is drawn into the mystery along with her trio of smart, loyal and protective pets. It takes all of them, plus the friendly sheriff and a neighborly deputy, to unravel the evil doings and solve the case.
   The mystery is more involved than it first appears, but is not so taxing that it gets you in trouble with those waiting for you to get your holiday chores done. And it’s fun to read what the animals are thinking and saying and doing to help solve the case.
   There’s also a timely letter to readers from Rita Mae Brown encouraging people to support their local humane shelters. They need your help to care for all the animals waiting for a new home. And, if your home has been waiting for a furry friend to move in, now might be just the right time.

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