Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Top Author Rita Mae Brown, Adds Early American Historical Story to One of Latest Mystery!


Note: This book was written by Brown to help spotlight the work of those now working on Camp Security - A Revolutionary War Prison Camp Site to keep it free from development... See Camp Security site to learn more and help...
Camp Security was a prison camp built in 1781 to detain British troops surrendered by Gen. Burgoyne at Saratoga, N.Y. and their families. Prisoners captured at Yorktown, Va arrived later. It was guarded by York County militia and Continental troops until operations ceased at the end of the American Revolution in 1783. The camp consisted of log huts and a large stockade. Archaeological evidence confirmed its location less than a mile to the south.
Camp Security is the last remaining undeveloped prisoner-of-war camp from the Revolutionary War. One of only a handful to ever be established, it is located just east of the City of York in Springettsbury Township. Camp Security housed over one-thousand British and Canadian prisoners of war between the summer of 1781 and the spring of 1783.
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Dear Reader, In 2005, the National Trust for Historic Preservation named Camp Security in York County, Pennsylvania, on a list of America’s eleven most endangered historic places. For two hundred twenty-five years, the prisoner-of-war camp had suffered nothing other than normal farming disturbances. A local developer wanted to build a 105-house subdivision on this land, thereby rendering it useless to archaeological examination. In 1979, a team of professional archaeologists examined just two acres of the camp, recovering more than fifteen thousand artifacts. Given the severe time limitations under which they worked, there was no way to discover what remained hidden on the thirty acres remaining. Carol Tanzola, a luminous soul with a passion for history, for finding out just who we were and who we are, couldn’t abide this. Like many people who think about civilizations, the past, wars, et cetera, Carol knew that one can judge a time, a people by how they treat military prisoners, to say nothing of how they treat women, animals, or those unable to compete due to physical or mental infirmity. A woman with a deep sense of fairness as well as curiosity, she started Friends of Camp Security...
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October 7, 1777. Bemis Heights, near Saratoga, New York Lieutenant Charles West slipped through the heavy woods with a handful of his men, all selected marksmen, part of Captain Alexander Fraser’s 34th Regiment. Below, other soldiers of Fraser’s 34th Regiment could be heard firing at the Continental forces. Any hope of the brave British lieutenant’s piercing the American rebels’ line was fading. The barrage was intense. Wearing green coats helped to conceal West’s Rangers, but the enemy knew the territory and had learned a great deal about fighting in such terrain from the Mohawks. The Continentals also carried rifles made in Kentucky or Pennsylvania, far more accurate than the British-issued musket, Brown Bess...
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April 10, 2015. Long, low, pale golden rays washed the western side of the stone wall around St. Luke’s graveyard. Many of the souls therein had been sleeping since shortly after the Revolutionary War. The church itself— of hand-laid stone, much of it pulled from the fields— matched the deceased in age. The architect of this peaceful symmetry had fallen in love with central Virginia and a young Virginia beauty while in a Revolutionary War camp a few miles away...
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Tail Gait:
A Mrs. Murphy Mystery

By Rita Mae Brown
And Sneaky Pie Brown

I've been following this NYTimes Bestselling Series since the beginning and I must say that this book turned out to become my favorite... Of course, Brown has been one of my favorite authors for years and according to GoodReads, this makes my 26th book, which is pretty good since I haven't been able to keep up with favorite authors since I began to review full-time about ten years ago...

I've always enjoyed the series, but the story about Revolutionary War prison camps and the prisoners tales were so compelling that I was more interested in their lives, this time, than solving the mystery... I think their story was so provocative because, in war history classes, we are never introduced to individual characters, are we? In fact, I am willing to admit, probably along with many other Americans, that what happened to prisoners during our wars was not even considered before this book... As you can see, the book was specifically written to support the ongoing work to preserve one of these camps that were once in Pennsylvania... Historians--I think you'll be very interested in what you'll discover in this cozy mystery!

For me, I found the story of prisoners from various countries being forced to walk and then live together in crowded, difficult conditions quite compelling, and yet the interaction and connection made between the prisoners and those holding them became an important statement in itself... While the soldiers from distant lands were forgotten by their home countries, it was the people in America, fighting for freedom, that worked to not only win their freedom, but to provide for those who had been their enemies, once they were captured. Warm friendships, and even romantic connections were brought about in this strange closed environment that confined all of them in one area for months and years...


Now in case you don't know it, the co-writer for this series is Sneaky Pie, who handles the dialogue and scenes for the various animals that appear in Brown's books. And that's a big job especially in this book where even the farm snake gets involved with solving the crime! Cats galore, a corgi, and as many farm animals that you might dream of are probably in one book or another... And, of course, the mystery series was named for the main cat character, Mrs. Murphy... I did find a couple of pics illustrations from her books, although not of this particular one...But as you can see, the delightful scenic pics add much to these animal-filled stories...

It was at the home of the Reverend of the local Church of the Holy Light that readers learn that a set of barracks for soldiers was once located very close.

One of those in attendance, Ginger, was in the midst of researching and writing a book about those who were imprisoned, as well as those who lived around the prison at that time and were using them to work on their property... Among those attending were  former members of the 1959 football team...with three of them working to create a new housing development, Continental Estates. Ginger was the historian, one was the landscaper who was researching historical gardens, and then the contractor who was committed to creating a historical environment complementary of the period... It sounded like a wonderful plan to everybody...

But then Ginger was found dead...

Harry, Mrs. Haristeen, the main character, and her friends were on the golf course that day... Ginger McConnell, with whom Harry and others had just been dining, had been shot--murdered! And Harry, as the lead amateur detective in the series, along with Mrs. Murphy, Tucker, and Pewter, who do the "leg work" automatically begin to think through what had happened during that time around the dinner table, when so many things had been shared and discussed... Had Ginger shared something that caused somebody to worry about what he was finding in this research?

And then one of the men who had been part of the 1959 team, and who had gone on to become All-American, started appearing and was heard to say that he was glad Ginger was dead... Admitted he had killed him... and then tried to commit suicide...

It was Tucker, and Pewter, who found his body, buried under a tree that had been recently planted... It was obviously another murder...

While the time periods move back and forth between the 1700s and the present, there is much more historical documentation that comes to light as the murders are investigated. The merge of what is discovered through the investigation with the story developed for the prisoners who once lived there, intensifies the historical perspective greatly and it's almost like a treasure hunt into the past, which ultimately pinpoints the guilty... I found the investigation gathering process, based upon finding historical documentation, a quite intriguing, more exciting and dramatic activity than found in most cozy mysteries... Here's one reader who hopes that Brown will continue to expand her stories into other genres to increase the scope of her always fantastic mysteries! 

Become a fan if you love cozy mysteries and haven't had a chance to read her before, especially if you enjoy cats (and other animals) as integral parts of a mystery series. Brown keeps getting better and better! Highly recommended...


GABixlerReviews 




Rita Mae Brown is the New York Times bestselling author of the Mrs. Murphy mystery series (which she writes with her tiger cat, Sneaky Pie) and the Sister Jane novels, as well as Rubyfruit Jungle, In Her Day, Six of One, The Sand Castle, and the memoirs Animal Magnetism and Rita Will. An Emmy-nominated screenwriter and a poet, Brown lives in Afton, Virginia, with cats, hounds, horses, and big red foxes.




SNEAKY PIE BROWN, a tiger cat rescue, has written twenty-five mysteries including this one— witness the list at the front of this novel. Having to share credit with the above-named human is a small irritant, but she manages it. Anything is better than typing, which is what “Big Brown” does for the series. Sneaky calls her human that name behind her back after the wonderful Thoroughbred racehorse. As her human is rather small, it brings giggles among the other animals. Sneaky’s main character— Mrs. Murphy, a tiger cat— is a bit sweeter than Miss Pie, who can be caustic.



Rita Mae Says:

The reward for conformity was that everyone liked you except yourself.


People are like tea bags; you never know how strong they'll be until they're in hot water. In times of trouble, you not only discover what you truly believe but whether or not you can act on your beliefs.