Over the past two weeks or so, several people have mentioned Donna Andrews’ Meg Langslow series of mystery novels. As I’m a bit burnt out from the Hugo reading, and I quite like mysteries, I checked out the first two from my local library on Saturday. Maybe Friday? No, it had to be Saturday, because I slept Friday night. Saturday night, I finished Murder with Peacocks (#1) and segued right into Murder with Puffins (#2), reading until I could barely make out the words. Revenge of the Wrought Iron Flamingoes (#3) is not available (I put a hold on it), so I’ve skipped to Crouching Buzzard, Leaping Loon (#4).
So deliciously tasty! Not what one would call deep and meaningful, but fun, jaunty mysteries of the cozy variety. Very little violence, no gore, plenty of wit and a bit of romance. What is not to love?
Book One of the series, Murder with Peacocks, introduces the reader to Meg Langslow and her extremely extended family through the device of three consecutive weddings. In any other setting than weddings, especially weddings in the summer in the southeast US, the series of unlikely events which constitute the plot, and the infinite number of wacky relatives making up the majority of the cast, would be ludicrous far beyond the average person’s suspension of disbelief. Having some experience of both Southerners and weddings, as well as my own fair share of ludicrous relatives, I had little trouble buying in. Peacocks exaggerates, but only slightly, and it’s rollicking good fun.
More sedate is Murder with Puffins, in which the cast actually increases, but most of the characters are walk-ons and not actually related to Meg. The plot is still deeply silly, but not quite as busy as Peacocks, and the slower pace means that the major characters are more developed. This novel was great fun, but it dragged a bit at either end.
I’m just over halfway done with Crouching Buzzard, Leaping Loon: in this installment the cast is even more pared down and the plot gets bonus points for being somewhat prosaic. Even the love interest is out of town, so we get to spend more time in Meg’s head, considering the clues and trying to solve the mystery. Since I’ve not read Flamingoes, yet, I don’t know how Ms Andrews handled some of the transitions (location, for example), but I’m looking forward to finding out.
The Meg Langslow series is the perfect antidote to too much seriousness. If you’re sad, mad, bored, depressed, or just tired of all the fussing and fighting; if you don’t feel like being terrified or repulsed; if you want a good, fast, funny story with likable characters and a satisfyingly happy ending, I highly recommend these books. They are a romp in the park with cotton candy and dogs that don’t fight and children that don’t cry. Frankly, the worst thing about these books is the covers. Yech.
(Hat Tip to Simon Bisson for the rec, among others. Thanks, Simon!)