In Die Like an Eagle by Donna Andrews, opening day of Summerball Baseball has arrived in Caerphilly. Nearly Meg’s entire family has descended upon the town to cheer on Josh and Jamie as they play for the Eagles in coach- pitch baseball, with Michael as the assistant coach. Meg memorized the entire Summerball rule book as an antidote to her insomnia, but she soon discovers that Biff Brown, the league head, has created his own set of unwritten rules and blackballs anyone who challenges him in any way. Because Biff forbids any practice beyond the one hour allowed each day (or is week?), Meg gets inspired to hold a picnic for the team the evening before opening day, and if baseball occurs, who are they to stop the boys? There two women stand out especially in their coaching of the boys. Tori, the wife of the head coach, was the best pitcher to come from UCLA. Further, Meg learns that Cordelia, her long-lost grandmother, once played professional women’s baseball as Delia Brandt. Suddenly two boys run to the coach to announce they have a Biff Alert! As Biff tries to sniff out “illicit baseball” going on,” Meg tries to nail him down in her capacity as special assistant to Mayor Schiffley, to work that Brown’s construction company is supposed to be doing for the city square. But he gets away anyway, and the baseball resumes.
The next morning, the Eagles have the first game, against Brown’s Stoats, but one boy on the team complains that someone has occupied the Port-A-Potty all morning. Meg gets out her tools and opens the door, only to have a body slump over as it falls out of the Port-A-Potty. It seems to be Biff! However, the body’s cell phone rings, and when Police Chief Burke answers it, he hears the voice of Biff yelling. Meg has mistaken for Biff his half- brother, Shep Henson, who also was the umpire for his brother’s league. But did someone try to kill the umpire? Or was he mistaken for his decidedly unpleasant, even abusive, half- brother?
I love all the Meg Langslow books by Donna Andrews, but Die Like an Eagle ranks high in my list of favorites. The humor found in the whole series stands out especially well in this book. Just the premise that the entire family comes from out of town to watch coach- pitch baseball has a fun touch to it. Then, the excitement of Meg’s father, the medical examiner, and Horace, the crime scene technician, made me laugh: Not only do they get to watch baseball, but they get to participate in a crime scene, followed, hopefully, by baseball! Further, who would have thought that a mystery centered around a Port-A-Potty could be funny and clever?
Even if you haven’t read or listened to any of the previous books in this series, you will soon become invested in each of the characters and the setting of the book. We quickly join Meg’s mother in becoming charter members of NAFOB (Not a Friend of Biff) and cheer as the Summerball bigwig, Mr. Witherington, comes to side with the town against Biff. Shep’s ex-wife, Callie Peebles, adds all the more flavor, but what can you expect from a woman whose parents named her Caligula? But in the meantime, there is a murder to solve.
The audio edition is performed by Bernadette Dunne, who always brings joy to the listening experience. Her particular strength is the creative voices she uses for each character. We feel that we know each one by the voice Dunne uses for that person, and we don’t even need to hear her state which character is speaking in order to know which person it is.
I really loved the experience of listening to Die Like an Eagle. I have listened to it many times since it came out in 2016 and never fail to laugh out loud and enjoy the mystery and characters. I highly recommend this book to any and all. I give it five stars!
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