Meg Langslow has a hectic summer ahead of her in Murder with Peacocks, and things are just about to get even more wild. Taking the summer off from her job of being a blacksmith, Meg goes to her hometown of Yorktown, VA to serve as maid of honor in three separate weddings. And for of maid of honor, read maid of all work who is expected to organize every aspect of each wedding, including implementing all the bizarre ideas of each bride: her business partner, her brother’s fiancee, and her mother.
The wedding messes include a calligrapher who ends up in a drunken stupor and scribbles all over the envelopes, rented peacocks meant to look decorative that stir up trouble, the dropping out of members of the bridal party, a pet duck who decides to participate in one wedding and marches in time to the music before sitting in the middle of the bride’s train, and undesirable men throwing themselves at Meg. This includes one who shows up at her house drunk and naked while holding a bunch of roses which he is forced to use to cover himself when he discovers she isn’t alone. As Meg quips, he had better hope there are no thorns in those roses! This episode ends with a hilarious romp through the neighborhood as the suitor gets chased all night by all the dogs in the area.
But things soon go from crazy to berserk when people start turning up murdered. Each murder seems to be intended for a member of the Langslow family, mostly Meg’s father, a retired doctor who delights in mysteries and growing deadly plants, showing the murderer to be either a real bungler or just super unlucky. These series of murders and murder attempts include a woman discovered dead at the bottom of a cliff, a circuit box rigged to explode, a bomb inserted into a gift from one of Meg’s most persistent unsuitable suitors, an entire bridal shower poisoned with some vegetable alkaloid that sends the bride and some bridesmaids to the hospital, a lawnmower gone crazy, and caviar spiked with deadly nightshad.
Add to this all of Meg’s dad’s snooping, which includes spending a week pretending to be part of a tree in order to spy on the neighborhood, and you have one extremely hilarious book. I laughed so hard reading before going to sleep that I made my husband complain that I was shaking the bed!
Yet despite the silliness and fun, Murder with Peacocks has a great deal of fascinating intrigue and creative methods of trying to solve the mysteries and a very satisfying denouement. Dr. Langslow, Meg’s father, in particular creates numerous experiments to convince the sheriff that the deaths are connected murders, adding the perfect combination of humor and sleuthing to satisfy any lover of cozy mysteries. It is no wonder that Donna Andrews received the Agatha Award for best first novel. If I could give the book more than 5 stars, I most certainly would!
Murder with Peacocks (Meg Langslow Mysteries) is available now from Amazon.