Postcrossing Blog

News, updates, and all kinds of goodies and stories from the postal world!

Blog > Book Review: Wish You Were Here

As promised in my last book review (on Deirdre Mask’s The Address Book), this time I’m reviewing Rita Mae Brown's mystery novel, Wish You Were Here. And while we’re getting started, I mustn’t neglect to mention that, in fact, Rita Mae Brown had a co-author on this book, Sneaky Pie Brown, a cat which condescends to share her living space!

Cover of Wish You Were Here

In my search for books about post, I’ve come across quite a few mysteries—including one by one of my favourite Golden Age crime writers, E.C.R. Lorac, which you can probably expect to see me review here sometime in the future. I try to select a range of different genres when I can, since I know that Postcrossers are a very diverse group with all kinds of interests… but nonetheless, the mysteries are compelling, and this book in particular got me thinking about why—but let me introduce it for a moment first!

Wish You Were Here is set in a post office, which gives the protagonist plenty of opportunity to snoop. The protagonist Harry is the postmistress, so she’s able to put two and two together when people start turning up murdered shortly after receiving mysterious postcards—a clue that the police would otherwise have missed.

That’s what I think is so appealing generally about using mail in some way in mystery stories. The things we write on our letters and postcards can be revealing of our personalities, and even addresses and postmarks can tell you a lot, even without peeking inside. The handwriting on the outside of an envelope can be the tiny telling detail that someone’s long lost auntie is about to make a triumphant return. In addition, postal workers can make a convenient witness, criminal, or provider of an alibi, or bring along the crucial evidence at just the right time.

In Harry’s case, the mystery is enlivened by interludes featuring cats, dogs, and other creatures, all sleuthing away at the mystery as well. For me, this was just a bit too cutesy; I’m not above anthropomorphising my own pets, but no matter how clever I tell them they are, my bunnies can barely sniff their way to their food bowls without great encouragement! I had difficulty with suspending my disbelief to imagine that a cat—even a clever cat—could reason out why someone might be the murderer… or that cats and dogs would talk amongst themselves exactly like humans do. That spoiled things a bit for me, though I think that touch of whimsy might be exactly what makes other people enthusiastic. Especially the pet-lovers amongst us!

I do love the idea of a postmistress being ideally placed to figure out a murder, all the same, and I got wrapped up enough in figuring out whodunnit that I finished the book in record time. I don’t think I’ll be continuing with the series, but it was an enjoyable read despite my doubts about our feline friends, and in this book at least, the postal system is pretty important, with threats/clues being delivered by mail, and Harry’s knowledge as the postmistress of Crozet giving her the information she needs to start working things out.

Don’t worry, I haven’t spoiled you on any of the clues, if this book sounds like your thing. There’s plenty still to discover in Crozet (especially judging from the number of books in this series).

Now that I’ve reviewed this one, I’ve promised plenty of times already that I’ll read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows), so I really better stick to it… and after that, who knows? E.C.R. Lorac’s Post After Post-Mortem is beckoning, but I’m hoping to find another non-fiction book to review first. There are a few on my wishlist, so watch this space!

Don’t forget, you can also make book suggestions to me in the forum thread I set up (you’ll need to be logged in to access it).



13 comments so far

Byrons_brain, United Kingdom
This sounds wonderful, I will have to add this to my reading list!

tetsu70, Japan
I haven`t read this series for a number of years. Reading this review is making me think it is time to see what I have missed since my last read. Thanks for the review!

thesnailmailer, United States of America
You'll love the Guernsey book! I'm going to read about the Thank you project. Nonfiction. If you've read much about thNk you letters, they should be short so postcards would be perfect

AllSerene, United Kingdom
That sounds fun. I'm just sorry that it isn't available as an audiobook, which, of necessity, is my preferred format.

Kristi-D, United States of America
Just reserved it at the library. Thanks for the recommendation!

grasmuss, United States of America
I'll add that one to my list! Thanks.

Flippie, Canada
Hi, thank you for your recommendation. I will look for it.

Blossomd, United States of America
Jodi Piccoult Wrote a book of the same title, and it also has postcards / letter writing in it. Another book with many letters in it is Fair and Tender Ladies by Lee Smith. And Snowflower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See has letter writing as a big part of it as well. So many good books out there with letter writing themes! :-)

Demmi, Romania Fluff Mystery! Nice worth adding to my reading list!
Kudos for your recommendation!
Happy readings & Happy Postcrossing!
:) :D

Hello! thats was a nice review :) By seeing this book, I slightly remember, I DID read it in the past. Since i am always around looking for second -hand books on markets, this one took my attention that time. However, since I am not a native English reader, I really got lost with the clues! The book was too difficult and maybe I ! was too impatient at the time being :) BTW I DO believe cats and dogs communicate together and tell the news of the day, or how they feel to each other. Anyway, since they dont speak English or Dutch, its not easy to figure out, WHAT they want to tell US! One of my neighbours is very good at it and even told me, what was wrong with my dog! She did miss her old street since we went to live in another place, and indeed, after a few months, all her resistance to go for a walk disappeared, just as my neighbour told me! one need to have a talent to understand the animals, I guess ! Happy Postcrossing to all!

Waldo, United Kingdom
 'In addition, postal workers can make a convenient witness.' Definitely the case with one postman, who might easily admit to bending several cards at once in order to put them through a small Victorian letterbox, though no cards were treated this badly in the decades before this. Whether he notices the Garbo on the postage stamp or the tidy French script? No idea, but the stiff card is manhandled. The card is the victim in this.

KymO94, United States of America
I LOVE Rita Mae Brown and Sneaky Pie mysteries.
I especially love that (though I have not read this book but I am sure that) this is the series where 'Harry's pets solve the mysteries without her really knowing. There's her cat Pewter and overweight gray cat, Mrs. Murphy a grey tiger cat, and Tee Tucker her welsh Corgi.
I'll likely end up printing this out to be sure I remember to find it.
but if you'd like to read more of her books here's the first 2 reviews I could find. Now to just locate where the rest are

I'm sure my other reviews are in my reading CHallenge posts from over the years that I started in 2013, but don't recall first year I read one but anyone who has cats or dogs I'm sure will enjoy any of the books in the series. (THough I am working on making a page to round up all the reviews of her books I've read

KatherineD, China
I love your writing! This book sounds pretty intriguing. I will add this on my readlist!

Leave a reply

You need to sign in to leave a comment!