In Fox Tracks, New York Times best-selling author Rita Mae Brown delivers another exciting episode in her popular foxhunting series. When Master of the Jefferson Hunt ''Sister'' Jane Arnold is confronted with two ominously similar deaths, she begins to suspect that the killings are linked - and part of a much larger plot. Voicing her opinion soon puts Jane's life in danger. Fortunately, she can turn to her four-legged friends - including horses Keepsake and Lafayette, and even the fox Aunt Netty - for help.
©2012 American Artist, Inc. (P)2012 Recorded Books
I am a long-time fan of Rita Mae Brown's books, particularly the Sister Jane fox-hunting series. She chose to narrate this one, as she has done on at least one of her past books. Unfortunately her voice is neither particularly suitable, or does she have the acting range to bring the words to life.
Since I am a devoted reader, I can put up with a fairly monotone-like reading, but it might put off those who are new to her books. The only advantage is that she could ably pronounce every single one of the exotic Indian names of characters in the story. Please, Ms. Brown, let a professional do the book - either over again, or in the future. Really. It makes a difference.
The plot is certainly different, based on illicit tobacco sales, and not especially engrossing. I learned a lot about the tobacco industry, but I wasn't avidly seeking every detail about that enterprise. There is also a terrorism angle.
I am not one that plays at solving the mystery as I read it. I simply "live" in the story while it takes place, enjoying the setting, the activities (and in this book, the fox hunts are fantastic as always), and just cruising along for the ride. When it ends, it ends, and I'm not sitting there, "Well I didn't see THAT coming."
The Sister Jane books are all based on fox-hunting, using hounds to track fox across country as riders follow along. It is a long-standing American and British tradition with strict rules and etiquette. American hunts do not kill their quarry, just running it to ground (into the den or other inaccessible place), and calling it good. There are two primary groups of riders, First Flight, the riders who ride in the main body of the hunt, taking virtually all the obstacles and riding at speed, and the Hilltoppers, who are mostly inexperienced horsemen or those who prefer to travel at slower speeds, with little or no jumping. The First Flight is under the Master's (Jane) direct eye and follows her instructions. Another senior member escorts the Hilltoppers, trying to get them views of the fox and the main body of the hunt while letting them participate at their own pace. He makes sure that everyone gets back safely and teaches them about hunting technique and etiquette. If you aren't interested in horsemanship, foxhunting, wildlife -- this isn't the book for you.
By the way, the foxes enjoy the challenge. Those who don't, go to ground quickly and evade further attention that day. Others delight in laying difficult tracks that are hard to decode by the eager hounds.
It was a delight to revisit most of my favorite characters in this series, though the multiple references to Betty and Bobby's financial situation got tedious. We all get it if you tell us ONCE. These favorite characters also include the non-human members, the animals and birds of the area, the hounds and horses, all of whom can carry on conversations very intelligently, though their humans don't have a clue about it. As an animal lover, I know darn well they're talking about us.
I also liked reconnecting with the Custis Hall girls, now on to college and adult life. While this is a stand-alone book, you will really benefit by reading the entire series in order so that you understand all of the inside remarks, and why Crawford Howard, millionaire foxhunter and jerk, makes so much trouble.
One of the foxes finds human remains as he roams his woodland, and determines that he needs to let one of the humans know somehow. He doesn't really care that much, but he knows that the humans really get concerned over these things, and that it would be the right thing to do. When the hunt comes out the next day, he leads them into the area of the remains, where a sharp-eyed whip, Sybil, spots the bones.
Story-wise, you'll either love Brown's books as a body of work, or you'll hate them. For this particular audio book, it could have been done in a better manner.
I would think that reading one's own book would be a slam dunk, but Ms. Brown sounds like she has never read a book out loud before and she needs a LOT more practice before she does it again. I gave up on the book 30 minutes into it.
Oh yes, just love this series by Rita May Brown Love the backdrop of fox hunting, love the way the animals have a voice......
More than one, it's the animals, as they have voices, too.
Yes, she is good, better than most
The end, as it was unexpected, her plots have so many twists!
Can't wait for another in this series~keep them coming!
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