I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to get around to writing a Series I Love post about one of my favourite series, but here we are. I had planned this for December, but when I went back to read the first in the series again in preparation for this post it started the massive binge that you’ve seen evidence off in all the week in books and stats posts ever since and so this has had to wait until I finished that, because it’s only fair.
Meg Langslow is a blacksmith based in Virginia. When we meet her in book one, Murder with Peacocks, she’s living in Yorktown, but she moves to the fictional town of Caerphilly fairly early in the series where there is much more scope for Donna Andrews to create plots and drama! The first book sees Meg and her notebook that tells her when to breathe trying to organise three weddings at the same time, including her brother’s. The murder side of the book is very good, but also so is the world building which seems Andrews introduce the core of the regular characters who appear throughout the series. There is Meg’s bossy mum, her murder mystery obsessed retired doctor father, her creative but scatty brother Rob and Michael, the son of the dressmaker in charge of all the dresses. As we go through the series the regular crew gets bigger as the world expands.
There are now 32 books in the series, with a thirty third coming in summer 2023, and having reread them all basically back to back, what has impressed me is the consistency of Donna Andrews’ world building. Yes there are a few little fudges here and there, but if you weren’t binging the lot at once you wouldn’t notice them. And you don’t get fed up of the characters, or notice that there’s a formula the way you do with some other series that have run this long.
Looking back, I think that one of the smartest moves Andrews made was not marrying Meg and Michael off too quickly and then giving them a house that allowed plenty of options in terms of plot and house guests. Not every book is based in Caerphilly, but even when they are, there are enough different locations (and reasons for Meg being there) that it doesn’t feel like Meg is the problem (I’m looking at you Jessica Fletcher) or that she’s meddling unnecessarily. And because she has several different professional hats, you don’t worry how she’s stayed in business with all these bodies piling up!
Having read them all again, I think my favourites are probably Owls Well that Ends Well, Some Like It Hawk, The Nightingale Before Christmas and maybe Murder Most Fowl. But it’s hard to decide because they’re all good and it turns out they repay rereading. I’ve already written about a few of the others elsewhere as well – Terns of Endearment in the Cruise Ship post, Gone Gull was a BotW, Gift of the Magpie was in a Christmas round-up as was How the Finch Stole Christmas.
If you want to read them, the good news is that the first one is now available in ebook (it wasn’t when I started reading the series) so that is much easier to get hold of than you might expect for a 20 year old cozy crime book, but the next one after that that is on Kindle is the 9th book. Luckily, Murder with Peacocks is that rare thing – a first in series cozy crime that sets up a world very well and has a good mystery. You can find the link to the Kindle books here, the Kobo ones here and they’re also available in Apple books too. Try not to look at how much it would cost you to buy them all!