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by Donna Andrews
Minotaur, August 2022
304 pages
ISBN: 1250760208

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Meg Langslow is, once again, helping with a family wedding. She is a thriving blacksmith and the go-to person in her large and extended family when there is a crisis. She has a running list of errands to do for the upcoming wedding at Trinity, followed by the reception at her home. Her father's peacocks are molting (revolting, according to Ogden Nash) and one of her chores is picking up some who still have plumage. Apparently these prettier peacocks are also a bit more assertive than her dad's birds. And then one of nephews comes up out of her basement, where he and his buddy have been doing a local true-crime podcast, because Kevin-the-nephew thinks they might have struck a nerve. They think someone tried to run over Casey a few nights ago.

They have only talked about thirteen cases so far, and only three of them are recent enough to merit serious consideration in terms of nerve-striking. One is based in the next county over; they think a young man might have been framed for a murder. One is really local, in Caerphilly: a cheating scandal at the local college, where Meg's husband works. And the third one is in Albemarle County, not too far away. A young woman with an amazing voice, Madeleine DuPlaine, disappeared from UVa the year before Meg matriculated. One would think that with everything else going on, Meg might put the last request at the bottom of her list. Meg is, however, a great delegator and manages to shift a great many of the wedding related tasks onto other people's lists so she can really focus on Kevin's problem. Aunts are wonderful people!

Donna Andrews is prolific; this is the thirty-first book in the Meg Langslow series, all of which feature bird-related puns or wordplay in their titles. I've read enough in the series to be able to say with some certainty that Andrews can write a good mystery novel. Her characters are recognizable and familiar, although they are certainly not the same as they were in her first book. Growth does occur, which is a good thing. The setting is a small-ish town, with all the clichés that come with that, and some of the foibles that come with a big eccentric family and a college town. The three plots, each a little different, work well together and the story lines are resolved by the end of this entry in the Langslow family chronicles. Fans of previous books will be amused by the humor; those new to the series will most likely want to check out other chapters in the Langslow life. Donna still has the touch!

§ P.J Coldren: I have been reading and reviewing mystery fiction for over a quarter of a century and read broadly within just about all genres and sub-genres. I live in Northern lower Michigan with my spousal unit, one large cat, and two fairly small dogs.

Reviewed by P.J. Coldren, September 2022

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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