November 11, 2016

Series Spotlight: the Meg Langslow Mysteries by Donna Andrews

Do I have any cozy mystery fans out there? If you like a lot of humor, with the murder and investigation more in the background, you would probably like this series. Meg Langslow is a sensible, level-headed, practical person in a family of crazies. Endearingly crazy, most of them, but still. In the first book she's single, but meets an interesting guy named Michael--who amazingly--isn't scared off by her family.

As you go through the series, Meg and Michael's relationship progresses as well. You don't have to read them in order. Within the first couple of pages you'll be caught up with where their relationship is currently, and then you can settle in and enjoy the hijinks for the rest of the book. In fact, the first one I picked up was #8. I liked it so much that every so often I find a few more.

One of my favorite parts about them is that they're mostly clean. Not squeaky, but close! Meg swears a handful of times in each one. Any intimacy between Michael and Meg is completely offstage--you may get a little bit of innuendo, but the most there's ever been in the books I've read is kissing. Inevitably, they get interrupted before anything can get too serious!

Murder with Peacocks (Meg Langslow #1)

4 stars: Zany and fun!--Oh, and there's a mystery to solve, too.

Meet Meg Langslow, a blacksmith with an...eccentric family. She the one sensible person in the clan, which is why she lives a couple of hours away. She's moving home to her tiny town for the summer, because she happens to be the Maid of Honor in 3--yes 3!--weddings. It's going to be a long summer.

Her one saving grace might be Michael, the gorgeous (single) guy who is taking over his mother's wedding dress shop for the summer...except that he's gay. Oh well, she could really use a good friend at the moment, too.

In the midst of all the wedding craziness, someone is murdered. Forensic pathology being a pet hobby of her dad's (retired physician), he immediately jumps in to "help" the local policeman. Meg gets drawn into the case as well, as hard as she tries to extricate herself from it. After another person dies under suspicious circumstances, Meg's dad is even more sure it's homicide. Of course, he has some theories he wants Meg to help him test. Of course she will! It's not like she's busy or anything!

* * * * *
This book cracked me up! Meg's family is just so exuberantly odd. One of her cousins owns a gorilla suit--just because--and wears it often. They all love parties, which tend to become a public stage for some of their eccentricities. Meg does a little bit of amateur sleuthing, while planning 3 weddings, fending off clumsy matchmaking attempts from her best friend and several relatives, herding peacocks, and generally getting things done.

Content: There are a few swear words here and there in dialogue.

(Finished reading Oct. 24)

Revenge of the Wrought-Iron Flamingos (Meg Langslow #3)

3 stars: Not as funny as the first, but still enjoyable.

Meg is working at a craft fair which is part of a reenactment of the siege of Yorktown. Her boyfriend Michael's mother is in charge of it--much to everyone else's chagrin. Not only has Mrs. Waterson insisted on every craftsperson dressing according to the period, she has organized a "Town Watch" to catch and fine any caught with anachronisms. Meg has her hands full running interference, running her booth, and running away from a serious talk with Michael about their relationship. When she discovers a body in her booth, her weekend gets even more crazy.

* * * * *
The indomitable Meg is back, with Michael in tow. As mentioned in my rating, this one was not as laugh-out-loud funny as some of her others, but it had the same mix of personal and familial chaos along with the murder investigation. In this case, Meg is trying to get along with her [possible] future mother-in-law, while also trying to keep the craft fair together. This one had less of her mother and father in it, who are two of my favorite characters, so that could be contributing to my lower rating as well.

Content: A bit of innuendo. An implied intimate relationship between Michael and Meg, as they share a tent and during one scene Michael walks in on Meg as she's changing. As with most of them, a handful of cuss words throughout.

(Finished reading Nov. 9)

No Nest for the Wicket (Meg Langslow #7)

4 stars: Rollicking, crazy, and always entertaining.

Meg and her long-suffering fiancé Michael have bought a house and are in the midst of renovations. Her father, supposedly in charge of said renovations, is also in charge of a bunch of ducks, which keeps him a bit distracted, to say the least. Meanwhile, Meg finds a murder victim in the middle of playing Extreme Croquet. Again?! If she can keep it together and maybe do a little sleuthing here and there, it could be a miracle.

* * * * *
This book had me at Extreme Croquet. Sounds like something my brothers would come up with. (Oh wait--they did, sort of. They called it Tundra Golf. Yeah, those were good times.)

(Originally reviewed August 2014.)

The Penguin Who Knew Too Much (Meg Langslow #8)

4 stars: The first one I read--I burst out laughing more than once!

Meg comes home one evening to penguins in the basement--well actually, not anymore, now that the body has been discovered. With a whole crowd of relatives coming any day now, not to mention various displaced zoo animals being dropped off (Meg's father volunteered to take care of them after the local zoo closed), Meg's life IS a zoo. Before long the police chief has set up headquarters in her parlor, and Meg is determined to figure out whodunnit, so she can happily elope as planned--hopefully with people and animals all taken care of someplace other than her house and grounds.

* * * * *
Unpredictable situations and zany characters add to the fun of trying to figure out who the guilty party is. I'll have to find more by this author. This one cracked me up!

(Originally reviewed November 2011.)

Swan for the Money (Meg Langslow #11)

4 stars: You thought craft fairs had some odd characters, welcome to the rose show!

Meg has her hands full running the local rose show, in which both of her parents have entries. The logistics aren't the half of it. The bigger difficulty may be staying sane while trying to keep a crowd of exacting, demanding, slightly deranged rosarians happy. Not to mention, she might be pregnant, but Michael is gone to NYC, and every time she has a chance to ask him to bring back a pregnancy test for her, someone comes walking by. Added to this already chaotic mix, is a murder. Meg knows she should just stay out of it, but that may impossible to do.

* * * * *
These are great fun! I laugh at the absurdities and cheer Meg on!

(Originally reviewed August 2014)

There are at least 2 others that I've read and didn't take the time to review, back in the day. Anyway, let me know if you give these a try! I'd love to know what you think!

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