Stuff I Like - The Meg Langslow Mysteries

When it comes to mystery novels, I am much more likely to drift towards the hard-boiled section of the bookstore. Give me a good private investigator, Spenser, Kinsey Milhone, Atticus Kodiak before he got all weird. Or a talented amateur in formal wear, Poirot, Lord Peter Wimsey, et cetera. The only subgenre of mystery that never really did anything for me is the cozy. A cozy is one of a series of mysteries that are usually pretty light in nature; the victim is dispatched quickly, without much fuss, and generally had it coming in one way or another. The protagonists are women more often than not, and the book is pretty evenly divided between the actual mystery to be solved and the lead character's interactions with the colorful supporting characters.

...you know, going by that description, the Spenser novels kind of ended up as cozies.

Anyway. Not really my scene is what I'm saying. But a few years ago, I was desperate for something to listen to on a road trip and stumbled into the Meg Langslow series by Donna Andrews.

Meg is a blacksmith in the college town of Caerphilly, Virginia, where she serves as the only source of common sense to her large, daffy extended family. The first novel, Murder with Peacocks, sets the tone of screwball mystery; Meg has been suckered into planning three consecutive weddings, including one for her own mother. Someone turns up dead, and someone else did it, but the reason to read these books is for Andrews' excellent characterization. You'd happily read a novel of Meg dealing with the residents of Caerphilly without any bodies turning up.

A new Meg Langslow book has become a summer ritual for me, something to read in the sun.  The next in the series, Lord of the Wings, comes out August 4. ...yeah, I should have mentioned, after a while, the series took on bird-related puns as its titling theme. The birds generally have very little to do with what's going on inside. Check out Meg, I think you'll like her.