In The Hen of the Baskervilles by Donna Andrews, Caerphilly is hosting its un-fair, with a special focus on rare breeds of animals and strains of grown food. As the fair gets ready to open the first day, Meg Langslow, who has acted as organizer of the un-fair, gets a call that a pair of Russian orlaf chickens has been stolen. Then, more vandalism takes place throughout the un-fair. People’s suspicions fall upon Jeanette, the rich woman who has stolen the husband of Meg’s friend, Molly and is suspected of stealing other farmers’ rare animals. With Jeanette’s driving everyone crazy in the wine tent, Meg begins to get concerned that Jeanette is at risk of being killed. But when Meg and her husband, Michael, find a body, it is Brett Riordan, Molly’s husband who is now living with Jeanette, not that of Bret’s mistress.
Since the body was found between the Caerphilly County and Clay County line, Chief Burke is forced to take a deputy from Clay County onto his investigative team, leading to all sorts of drama with the man’s unprofessionalism. When the police find the gun in Molly’s van, Meg jumps in to help her friend.
The Hen of the Baskervilles is a delightful addition to the Meg Langslow series. I have listened to this book many times, especially when I need something comforting to enjoy. The book has so much humor and a creative setting. I learned a lot about the rare breeds of animals on display, and I really enjoyed the appearance of Michael’s llamas in several competitions at the un-fair. I learned so much about the creatures, making me come to appreciate llamas. There do seem to be a few gaps in the book, in particular that I was unclear on certain details of the solution to the murder.
In addition to the great story, I love the characters. Meg shows off the organizational skills that we see in the first book, Murder with Peacocks, and which become even more central to the character later in the series. We also see personal growth in Randall Shiffley, who started off as the construction company foreman and has risen to the position of mayor. The twins, Josh and Jamie, have grown to be almost three, and they show us fun as they show off their dogs in the children’s dog show and get their parents to take them to the midway, where Meg’s brother, Rob, gets to finish all the junk food they discard when distracted by something new. Finally, the chief antagonist of the book, Jeanette, has so much life in her that we feel mad at her along with all her neighbors and people in the wine tent. We want to
Bernadette Dunne does an effective job at performing this book and making it seem very realistic. One of her strengths is the unique voices used for each of the characters. I don’t need to hear the name of the speaker to know who is saying the lines. With the fun setting of the un-fair, Dunne adds to the pleasure of listening to this book.
I thoroughly enjoyed The Hen of the Baskervilles, with all its fun plot details, humor in the story, and creative characters. This book delights me every time I listen to it, and I look forward to many more times of being entertained by this book. I give the book five stars.
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