Set in today's economic morass, MURDER UNLEASHED is the second installment in Rita Mae Brown's new series starring some appealing characters and their expressive pet dogs. To demonstrate the struggles that millions of Americans are facing, Brown focuses on an area of Reno, Nevada that has been hit as hard as anywhere. Foreclosed and abandoned houses are being used by squatters for shelter, but they have no water, electricity, or, in many cases, food. There are children and pets suffering as well as unemployed adults. When the situation is brought to light, Mags enlists the assistance of her great aunt to bring some hope and help to the area.
"Set in today's economic morass, MURDER UNLEASHED is the second installment in Rita Mae Brown's new series starring some appealing characters and their expressive pet dogs."
It is certain that a great deal of research was required to be able to present the major causes of today's recession that is verging on depression. Not only does the author explain how the crisis came about, she weaves it into the story so that anyone can understand. She also shows, in microcosm, some very practical and doable ways to improve the problems without engaging the government. The willingness of people to help their neighbors in times of crisis is probably one of the greatest untapped resources in America today. However, it takes a bit more strategy and convincing to get the utility companies and the banks on board --- who, in turn, must contend with myriads of crippling regulations and regulators.
Lest you think that MURDER UNLEASHED is a dissertation on the relatively dry subject of economics, let me assure you that the various plot lines, sub-plots, interrelated characters and unsolved murders will hold your interest. And, of course, there are the precocious dogs who own these humans. They serve to move the story forward as well as add some humor. Did you know that dogs and coyotes are able to communicate with one another? Neither did I. But they do, and thus can spy on people and report their findings to the pets who then help their humans solve mysteries. The coyotes do this for a price, of course. The dogs have to bring them treats from the house that they can share with their pups.
Rita Mae Brown is the author of more than 25 bestsellers, many of which are co-written with her cat, Sneaky Pie. Though cat lovers may be a bit disappointed to find that there are no significant roles for felines in this series, there are many other four-legged friends to enjoy. My husband's relatives have a saying for describing huge family get-togethers: “Everybody and their dogs were there.” So it is among the characters in MURDER UNLEASHED. If you are not familiar with Brown's work, you might have a bit of trouble sorting out the humans from the dogs: Jeep, Mags, Baxter, Bunny, King, Zippy and Lonny, to name a few. But their roles are soon clarified, and the enjoyment begins.
Reviewed by Maggie Harding on October 6, 2011