“A rich, atmospheric murder mystery . . . rife with love, scandal . . . redemption, greed and nobility,” raved the San Jose Mercury News about Outfoxed, Rita Mae Brown’s first foxhunting masterpiece. In The Hunt Ball, the latest novel in this popular series, all the ingredients Brown’s readers love are abundantly present: richness of character and landscape, the thrill of the hunt, and the chill of violence.The trouble begins at Custis Hall, an exclusive girls’ school in Virginia that has gloried in its good name for nearly two hundred years. At first, the outcry is a mere tempest in a silver teapot–a small group of students protesting the school’s exhibit of antique household objects crafted by slaves–and headmistress Charlotte Norton quells the ruckus easily. But when one of the two hanging corpses ornamenting the students’ Halloween dance turns out to be real–the body of the school’s talented fund-raiser, in fact–Charlotte and the entire community are stunned. Everyone liked Al Perez, or so it seemed, yet his murder was particularly unpleasant. Even “Sister” Jane Arnold, master of the Jefferson Hunt Club, beloved by man and beast, is at a loss, although she knows better than anyone where the bodies are buried in this community of land-grant families and new-money settlers. Aided and abetted by foxes and owls, cats and hounds, Sister picks up a scent that leads her in a most unwelcome direction: straight to the heart of the foxhunting crowd. The chase is on, not only for foxes but also for a deadly human predator.No one has created a fictional paradise more delightful than the rolling hills of Rita Mae Brown’s Virginia countryside, or has more charmingly captured the rituals of the hunt. No one understands human and animal nature more deeply. The Hunt Ball combines a rounded, welcoming world with an edge of unforgettable white-knuckled menace.
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