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Donna Andrews

November 8, 2013

peacocksIt’s cold outside, even here in Alabama, so I want to talk about cozy mysteries today.  These are the kind of books you can read while you’re curled up with a cup of tea and an animal companion of your choice.  (For the record, mine is a cat, but that is because my present dog is a bit too big to curl up with.  She tends to knock me out of the chair when we try it.)  I’ve discussed one of my favorite cozy mystery authors, Nancy Atherton, in a previous post, and I’m sure you all know my love for the 20th century British Crime Queens.  Today, I’d like to talk about Donna Andrews and her Meg Langslow series.
revengeMeg is an artisan blacksmith in semi-rural Virginia.  She has a giant, ridiculous family including her father (retired doctor with a passion for murder mysteries), her mother (frustrated interior designer and all-round classy lady), her younger brother (general mess for a few books and then accidental highly successful computer game designer), and a slew of aunts, uncles, and cousins including Cousin Horace (crime scene technician who manages his social anxiety by wearing a gorilla suit).  Meg never really wants to get involved in crimes, but she’s the best organizer in the family and when something as disruptive as a murder occurs she’s just naturally drawn to come in and tidy things up.
duckMy favorite thing about these books is the humor.  Andrews manages to capture a particular stereotypical version of rural southern life without being insulting.  No, a community like Caerphilly probably doesn’t exist, but I’d totally like to take a vacation there anyway.  It’s not like Jessica Fletcher’s Cabot Cove, Maine was entirely factual either.  But that’s not the point.  We like to read about towns where people all know each other and get into everyone else’s business.  It’s escapist reading, and there’s nothing wrong with that.bimbos
The other, undeniable thing about the books is that they’ve got bird related puns as the title, at least after the first two.  Yes, the puns are bad.  But they’re also brilliant.  You know exactly what kind of book you’re getting when you pick up something called Revenge of the Wrought Iron-Flamingosor Duck the Halls.  There are a total of sixteen Meg Langslow books available at the moment.  My personal favorites are Crouching Buzzard, Leaping Loon and We’ll Always Have Parrots (which has the distinction of being one of two books I’m aware of that have murders at sci-fi conventions.  The other is Sharon McCrumb’s Bimbos of the Death Sun).
What type of book do you like to curl up with?

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