In Some Like It Hawk by Donna Andrews, the town of Caerphilly has been fighting since the conclusion of the previous book in the series, The Real Macaw, to keep its public buildings. The previous mayor took out a large mortgage in the name of the city, using city property as collateral, and then “allegedly” took off with the money. Now “the evil lender” has repossessed the courthouse, jail, and other buildings. So the citizens of Caerphilly are staging a big public event they call Caerphilly Days to help the effort to fight the evil lender. But their assistance isn’t financial. Instead, they serve as a diversion to distract the evil lender. At the time of the sudden repossession, the city clerk, Phineas P. Throckmorton, barricaded himself in the basement of the courthouse. For the last year and a half, the man has been living in the basement, supplied by a tunnel from the Underground Railroad known initially to few, especially to the Pruitts, the corrupt family just kicked out of power. But the trap door, which they keep hidden by the bandstand, makes so much noise every time it is opened that they have to cover up the noise with loud entertainment and plan to replace it altogether during the loud July 4 celebration.
After finishing her blacksmith demonstration, arranged especially to make plenty of noise, Meg Langslow goes with the new Mayor Randall Schiffley and some people from the press to visit the courthouse ostensibly to negotiate with Throckmorton. But while they are in the courthouse near the barrier where Mr. Throxkmorton has locked himself in, they hear a gun shot, and the only person from the evil lender who seems at least a little bit human lies dead. And the evil lender wants to blame Mr. Throckmorton, pressing the police chief to arrest him. Thus, the group of citizens from Caerphilly must work hard to locate not just the murderer but also what the evil lender has been hiding in order to get away with theit tricks.
I have listened to Some Like It Hawk numerous times since I discovered the Meg Langslow series. But since I was finally able to listen to the previous book, The Real Macaw, which was only just released on audio, I got an extra appreciation for this book. This book takes an absurd situation and makes it seem realistic. The title refers to the company that the evil lender has hired to use a hawk to deal with what they call a pigeon infestation, but which really consists of Mr. Throckmorton’s pet pigeons that used to fly in and out of the courthouse. It’s a form of psychological warfare. The owner of the hawk actually likes to work with cadaver vultures, so his vulture, in a test for Meg’s grandfather to prove it can find carrion, lands on the disgusting food booth run by a Pruitt.
The plot to this book is well-drawn. The details are humorous, with the setting and events both funny and unique. Drawn in the style that only Andrews can get away with, the plot takes ridiculous events and makes them believable and laugh-out-loud funny. I have listened to this book at least one, probably two, dozen times, and each time has been as funny as the first.
While the plot of Some Like It Hawk is well- drawn, it is the characters who especially make the book and others in the series particularly memorable. Meg serves as the straight woman to all the other unique characters. For example, her father, the semi- retired physician, loves nothing more than a mystery and a dead body to solve. He gets to do his work as medical examiner in this book because Dr. Smoot, who likes to dress as a vampire, is highly claustrophobic and is afraid to go to the basement to look at the body. Another character, octogenarian Caroline Wilner, gets Meg to burgle the Caerphilly Inn, using a dead drop to get the pass key to all the rooms.
I love the performance Bernadette Dunne does in the audio version of this book. She does a lot to help make the book even more believable and enjoyable. We feel the laughter in her voice as she performs this fun and humorous book. I thoroughly appreciate the work of Dunne, and even when I read the first three books in the series, which are not on audio, I heard the voices, inflections, and expressions of Dunne’s voice.
If you have never read or listened to any of the Meg Langslow books, I’d recommend starting with another, since this one follows the ending of The Real Macaw. But even if you start with Some Like It Hawk, you will love this book. It is delightful, with a clever plot and creative, endearing characters. I give this book five stars!
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