In Toucan Keep a Secret by Donna Andrews, Meg Langslow has stayed late one night at Trinity Episcopal Church to close up after the vestry meeting, since the pastor, Robyn Smith, is on maternity leave. As she finishes locking up, Meg sees a light on in the columbarium, or crypt, and calls the police before exploring. Inside, she finds Mr. Hagley, one of the vestry members whom Meg and her mother privately call “muttering misogynists” for their antagonism to women and the female pastor in particular. Inside the columbarium, someone, either the murderer or the victim, has pried open five niches made for storing cremains. Further, in the midst of his examination of the scene, Meg’s cousin, Horace, the local crime scene technician, finds a ring made with a giant and valuable ruby.
The niches all have one thing in common: a connection to a robbery/ homicide at the 1987 New Year’s Eve party for all of the best society in Caerphilly in which the valuable jewels of the hostess, Mrs. Vanderlinden, were stolen and two men killed. Further research into the past reveals that it has been all but proven that Mrs. Vanderlinden staged the robbery of her jewels to collect on the insurance. She hired her son, Archie, who has already been expelled from two universities, to orchestrate the robbery, but things went badly wrong. It has become apparent that the murder and break-in of the columbarium, one of whose niches was vandalized being Mrs. Vanderlinden, are related to this burglary, but in what way? And where are the jewels?
Toucan Keep a Secret turned out to be an excellent addition to the Meg Langslow series. It had many moments that made me laugh out loud in enjoyment of the amusing situations. Andrews has a gift for writing humorous scenes in addition to the word play common to humorous mysteries. Her unique characters feature so much quirkiness yet depth of nature that they set the stage for many hilarious scenes. I don’t think I have laughed so hard at a book since reading Death with Peacocks, Andrews’s first book.
The mystery plot held a lot of interest, dealing with both the contemporary murder and the 30- year- old burglary/ homicide. Using the cold case to frame the investigation of the hot case worked very well and gave extra depth to the plot. The incorporation of the toucan into the storyline continues with Andrews’s special ability to draw titles with creative puns using bird names and bringing the birds into the plot of the book effectively.
I have read or listened to all of Andrews’s books numerous times, and Toucan Keep a Secret has to be one of my favorites. It has a fun plot with lively, creative characters as well as so much humor that I couldn’t stop laughing or even listening to the book. I loved this book and give it five stars.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book for review purposes, but that had no influence on the content of my review.
To purchase this book for yourself, click here on Amazon.