A quickie and a bit of a cheat for this week’s BotW – I’ve been busy writing the Christmas gift posts and reading the books to put in them. I’ve written about Donna Andrews’ Meg Langslow series before, although it’s the first time I’ve made one Book of the Week – mostly because the point when I was glomming on the early series was before I started writing BotW posts the way that I do now.
Anyway, Gone Gull is the 21st book in the series and sees Meg and her family spending the summer at her grandmother’s newly established craft centre. Meg is teaching blacksmithing, her husband is teaching acting and helping look after the children, her grandfather is teaching ornithology and her dad is on hand two. But it looks like someone may be trying to sabotage the centre and then one of the teachers is found dead. Soon Meg is investigating and trying to work out who has it in for Biscuit Mountain.
One of the joys of this series is the crazy extended family and almost all the regular characters in the series are here – there’s not much of Meg’s mum or brother, but that’s fine because it’s nice to get to know Meg’s Grandmother Cordelia better. The problem for a lot of long running murder series is that often it seems like the detecting character is the harbinger of doom (aka don’t be friends with Jessica Fletcher or you’ll end up dead) but one of my favourite things about this series is the way that Andrews manages to find different locations to take her characters so that it doesn’t feel quite so dangerous in Meg’s home town! It was also really nice to see Meg back at her anvil – her blacksmith business was prominent in the early books in the series, but had faded into the background somewhat while the twins were little.
These books fall at the humorous end of the cozy crime spectrum – they’re not laugh a minute, but as the pun-based titles suggest there’s plenty of fun in these – with eccentric characters and strange set ups. I’m nearly up to date with the series now – I thought I was bang up to date, but the Christmas book (How the Finch stole Christmas) came out at the end of October, although I suspect it’ll take a while before I can justify buying it.
As always with posts about series, I think you’re best starting at the beginning – a Murder with Peacocks is the first one and although it’s out of print new, there are secondhand copies on Amazon and it’s under £4 on Kindle as I write this. But actually, these are stand alone – the thing you miss by not going back to the start is the building of the cast of characters and Meg’s relationship. As well as meeting her ever expanding extended family over the course of the books, Meg doesn’t hurry into marriage – or into having children – which makes for a really fun journey for her and for the reader. I think a reader could have fun wherever they start the series – so what ever you decide: