Author: Rita Mae Brown
A Hiss Before Dying is a mystery within a mystery. Two men are murdered in present day Crozet. One of the men had just purchased a bronze slave pass medallion dating from the post-revolution era in Virginia. That medallion ties in with events that occurred in the 1780s. The story switches back and forth between present and past. At first it was a bit difficult keeping the characters straight with all the switching back and forth, but luckily the author included a list of all the characters in the front of the book. When I got confused about who was who in the post-revolutionary story line, I just paged back to the list and got a reminder.
While I'm not normally a big fan of stories that jump back and forth in time, I enjoyed the double-mystery. I didn't know what a slave pass (or chit) was and I found the historical information the author provided to be very interesting. The story is well-written and paced. I enjoyed how the two mysteries intertwined. The antics of Harry's furry pals are still much the same as earlier in the series, adding a bit of humor and animal wisdom to the story. Harry is still her pragmatic, hard-working, spunky self, surrounded by a cast of friends and citizens of Crozet who make these stories so enjoyable. I definitely need to backtrack a bit and read the books in the series that I missed. All 11 of them! :) I have a lot of reading to do!
It really isn't necessary to read the other books before this one. It's enough of a stand-alone story that a reader could jump in at book 26 and still enjoy the story. The series is great though, so I highly recommend reading the earlier books.
Rita Mae Brown is the author of many books including Rubyfruit Jungle and the Sister Jane series. For more information on the author and her books, check out her website: http://www.ritamaebrownbooks.com/
**I voluntarily read an advance readers copy of this book from Random House Publishing via NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.**