In Murder with Puffins, the second book in the Meg Langslow Mystery series by Donna Andrews, Meg and Michael, in a desperate attempt to find some privacy after being forced to live with their respective families, flee to Meg’s Aunt Phoebe’s summer cabin on the island of Monhegan. This is a place where no one but the relatively few local residents and avid birdwatchers there to see the local puffins bother to visit as the island lacks all but the most basic of utilities. The Central Monhegan Power Company consists of a large generator operated by Aunt Phoebe’s neighbor, and residents get their power by connecting extension cords to the “plant.” It seems the ideal place to hide from the rest of the world.
Imagine Meg’s and Michael’s consternation when, upon arriving at the cabin, they are warmly greeted by Meg’s parents, who have just returned early to the United States after vacationing in Europe on their second honeymoon. Then, while Meg and Michael are still trying to make sense of the Langslows’ presence there, Aunt Phoebe, who at last sighting was at Meg’s family’s house in Yorktown, VA, and their neighbor Mrs. Fenniman walk in and say hello, followed by Meg’s brother, Rob, with Michael’s mother’s 9-pound furball from hell, Spike.
Not only is Meg’s and Michael’s romantic weekend getaway not going to happen, no one can get off this island due to the arrival of Hurricane Gladys. So they are stuck in a tiny three-bedroom cabin with five other people and a vicious little dog, leaving Michael to share a set of bunk beds with Rob and Meg to sleep on the sofa.
The next day, the entire island gets busy making preparations for the upcoming hurricane, bringing all the outdoor furniture inside, boarding up the windows, and stocking up on supplies. To escape being given further chores, Meg and Michael take a walk around the island only to be shot at by the villain of the community, Victor Resnick, an artist who thinks he is more famous and talented than he really is. In addition, Meg is told by several people that Resnick was once the much older boyfriend of her mother when Margaret Langslow was a teenager, something that seems evident when Meg and Michael see the nude portrait of Meg’s mother from forty years before hanging in the entryway to Resnick’s glass house!
In the meantime, Meg’s loony father has run off in excitement to get to watch the hurricane make landfall, so her mother tasks Meg and Michael with the job of locating him and bringing him back to the cabin. Instead, they locate someone, or rather a former someone, else.
Victor Resnick lies at the bottom of the cliff near his house in a tidal pool of water that is ready to take his body out to sea. Observing the cuts on his head and concluding that Resnick has been murdered, Meg and Michael use the ropes in the emergency backpacks Meg’s father has made everyone carry to haul the body up the cliff and then notify the authorities, who think it very convenient that Resnick was once supposedly Meg’s mother’s lover. These people seem to prefer to consider Meg’s father their chief suspect so as not to have to arrest a local or one of the birders, the group that contributes the most to the income of Monhegan.
Fresh from her previous triumph in solving the Murder with Peacocks, Meg determines to work her magic again and this time save her dad from any accusations of murder. The process involves dealing with some crazy people, searching the creepy glass home of Resnick, and coping with Meg’s possibly clinically insane family in the meantime.
This book was a very enjoyable read and sped by very quickly. It kept me up late several nights when I just could not put the book down. The humor was different and not as pronounced as it was in Murder with Peacocks, but I still found it very fun to read through and am thoroughly looking forward to starting The Revenge of the Wrought-iron Flamingos, the third book in the Meg Langslow Mystery series. I heartily endorse this book for 5 stars!
Murder with Puffins (Meg Langslow Mysteries) is available through Amazon.