Winner Of: The 1998 St Martin's Malice Domestic Award
Murder With Peacocks by Donna Andrews; reviewed by Ma T
Meg Langslow, Donna Andrews' heroine in this first of a series mystery, is the voice of the person you want sitting next to you at one of those abominably awful events that are nevertheless very proper so that all you can do is mutter your wonderfully appropriate and sarcastic comments into the hand you keep over your mouth in some pretense of coughing. She's the one who perfectly understands your hilarity and counters with plenty of hilarious comments of her own. Needless to say, I loved this book.
It has befallen Meg Langslow to be maid of honor in 3 (count 'em THREE) weddings: her mother's, her best friend's, and her future sister-in-law's nuptials. Somehow all the planning and the perfect execution of these plans has fallen into Meg's capable, but extremely busy, hands. She has taken the summer off from her vocation as a blacksmith to go home to Yorktown so she can personally supervise all the details and make sure all 3 weddings come off without a hitch.
It is in her hometown she meets Michael, who has taken over the running of his mother's seamstress business (Be-Stitched) while she's in Florida recovering from a broken leg that has put her in traction for the long haul. Word around town has it that Michael is gay, but he and Meg hit it off immediately when she has to spend a great deal of time in his shop making arrangements for dress selections and fittings for all 3 weddings, and they first become friends. Later they become partners (along with Meg's father) in trying to figure out who is killing the citizens of Yorktown and why. Their sleuthing begins when Meg's mother's fiance's sister-in-law (yes, that's complicated, but then so is the whole Langslow family!) is found dead on the beach, and it looks like her death may not have been accidental.
Not since Charlotte McLeod's heroine Sarah Kelling (along with Max Bittersohn) have I been so captivated by the main character in the first book of a series. I didn't think Sarah Kelling's family could be surpassed for hilarity and lunacy, but Meg Langslow's family tree is right up there with anything the Kelling clan could dish out.
I have to say that some of the motivation for the murders in this book is vague, but I don't read cozy mysteries for mind boggling whodunnits. I read them every bit as much for the ongoing characters and what mischief they are up to in the latest version as I do because I like mysteries. However, there are enough twists and turns in the plot to have kept me guessing who might be at the center of all the intrigue. I thought I had one part all figured out... I was dead wrong.
I look forward to reading the rest of this series because not only is it well written and clever, but Meg Langslow's voice is definitely my kind of person!
*This review was also posted to the Book Awards Reading Challenge*