Meg Langslow has agreed to be the maid of honor at three separate weddings. All three of the brides place the planning in her capable hands, leaving her running around trying to make sure all three weddings go smoothly. Which isn't easy when one wants a theme wedding but won't decide on dresses, and another wants peacocks. Then, an out-of-town visitor turns up dead under mysterious circumstances. Meg's father is convinced it's murder and drags her into his investigation. Soon, mysterious accidents convince Meg that her dad is right. But can she find the murderer before anyone else dies and still make sure the weddings go as planned?
This is a fun book. It's filled with eccentric characters that make it a pleasure to read. I often found myself chuckling or laughing at their behavior. However, as a mystery it leaves a little to be desired since solving the murder often takes a back seat to the antics of the brides and Meg trying to deal with them. Still, I found the book a pleasure to read. The characters come off as believable and not caricatures. The romantic sub-plot with Michael is amusing because we as the reader know what's going on, even if Meg has no clue. By the end of the book, the mystery has been solved and all the plots tied up, leaving me anxious for more.
An interesting note is that instead of chapters, the author breaks the action down by day. It makes for rather uneven breaks in the narrative, but it's also easier to keep track of the passing time since the plot takes place over two months.
In lesser hands, this book would have fallen flat, but in her debut, Donna Andrews proves what a superb writer she is. I'm looking forward to reading the next book in the Meg Langslow series.
on 13 April 2009
I found this light, funny novel to be such a treat. Meg is helping three brides put together their weddings (and, much like many Maids of Honor, getting no appreciation whatsoever for doing so), when things start to go horribly wrong in her sleepy little Southern town. As she, her father and her new friend Michael (delightful characters in their own right) get closer to answers regarding a mysterious death, they also become targets.
Laugh-out-loud funny in the style of Janet Evanovich, Mary Kay Andrews and Jane Heller, with a bit of romance, a wacky family and a nifty little mystery, this story kept me turning the pages and, I am delighted to say, guessing as to the identity of the murderer. That's a rarity, and a pleasant surprise.
I only reduced it from five stars to four because of some repetition in the writing style. A little tighter editing would have been welcome, and I feel confident that the style will get smoother as Donna Andrews gains experience at her craft.
First of a mystery series with birds in the titles, and a wicked sense of humour. Meg Langslow is a blacksmith with a family - and cousins, uncles and friends galore - who drive her crazy, but she's used to them, by now. In this tale she has agreed to be maid of honour for three different weddings so she has a huge amount of organising to do, including providing peacocks, and she doesn't have time to focus on the new handsome young man in town, Michael. Other girls assure her Michael must be gay because he wasn't interested when they flirted, showing, I thought, his uncommonly good sense. By the end of course it turns out Meg was the only one whom Michael fancied.
Meanwhile we've had a dead body in the sea, an electrocution, several poisonings, a bomb.... Several wedding guests are now turning up each introducing a 'cousin' who is a beefy man in a suit with a bulge under the armpit and suspicious eyes, as one would.
Meg's father, a doctor, is delighted to apply his knowledge to each case and checks tide tables, rows around the coast and has Meg tossing heavy bags over cliffs to see how far a body could have drifted. He lectures the sheriff who of course is invited to some of the weddings and turns up with food. Meg's autocratic mother is one of the brides and her ex-husband is generously applying himself to making her wedding day perfect, in between investigating how foxglove extract got into the food. Confused? You haven't met Cousin Horace in the gorilla suit yet.
on 29 September 2010
This is the sort of comfortable mystery which doesn't make many demands on the reader: the murder victim is sufficiently unknown and unlikeable that the death isn't distressing; the plot unfolds gently without any dramatic turns; and the solution, while not obvious, is easy enough to work out, even for someone like myself who doesn't read many mysteries. However, just because it was uncomplicated does not mean it was a bad read, and I thoroughly enjoyed the relaxation of reading this book.
Because the weddings serve as the backdrop for this novel rather than its raison d'etre, I found that it avoided the usual trap of losing plot and characters beneath enormous white dresses. The story, while simple, was good fun and the characters were well-drawn and enjoyable. Narrator Meg Langslow's array of eccentric family and neighbours added a levity and humour to the standard mystery plot. I was continually amused and how unfazed these residents of small-town Virginia are by the initial murder and continuing attempts on the lives of and her family and friends. Her father is positively delighted at the chance for some amateur sleuthing, Meg's mother seems oblivious, and Meg herself is more concerned with organising three increasingly demanding weddings.
In Meg herself, Donna Andrews has created a character with a very pleasant narrative voice. She is wry and intelligent and her observations made me chuckle on numerous occasions. Unlike the heroines of many chick lit books, she manages to be single without being either bitter or desperate. She is exasperated by the various brides' indecisions, demands and dithering without being scathing or dismissive, and the same is true of her attitude towards her family. It makes a welcome change to read a book narrated by someone who is mocking and funny without being sarcastic and unkind.