Meg's family is hosting an eXtreme croquet tournament near Meg's house, and Meg has gotten roped into playing. Not that she hates it, but the sport is a little wild for her tastes.
After Meg's ball gets roqueted into a gully, Meg finds a dead body. While the woman had obviously been hit by a croquet mallet, she wasn't playing in the tournament. In fact, Meg and the other contestants have no idea who she is.
It's Michael who makes the identification. The victim used to be a professor at the local college and had made quite a few enemies in town. What was she doing back in the area? And who knew about it and wanted to kill her?
This series has become a favorite because of the great plots and the laugh out loud moments. Unfortunately, this entry doesn't live up to the last couple. Mainly, it was because the book wasn't as funny as it could have been. Much of the humor has been done before and better in the earlier books. Not that this book isn't enjoyable. I still found myself laughing and smiling, just not as much as previously.
Fortunately, the plot is very engaging. There are several twists and plenty of red herrings before the final solution is revealed. I did feel the climax was a bit abrupt, but it was logical.
The returning characters are their usual charming selves. It's always a pleasure to spend time with Meg and her family even if murder is the result. The new characters are interesting as well. They could have used a little more development, but I could easily keep everyone straight.
While not up to the usual standards for this series, this is still a book well worth reading. It's a fast moving mystery that will keep you entertained from start to finish.
on 22 September 2006
I've loved the Meg Langslow mysteries until this latest one - 'No Nest for the Wicket' - which, disappointingly, I found to be considerably less than her usual riotous romp.
It wasn't a totally slack effort in that the mystery was quite an interesting premise, but it all felt rather stale and flat this time around, with very little of the usual amusing background colour to hold my attention and an embarrassingly obvious culprit - in fact the supporting characters were frankly dull, which took most of the fun away.
In previous books there has been some tension involved in solving the mystery, but this time there was nothing at all. The denouement was so trite that I almost couldn't believe it wasn't satire...
Previous books had underlying threads of slight issues in the main characters' personal relationship that added an interesting continuity and depth to the series (ok, I know this isn't supposed to be in any way serious, but even in a cozy series like this, one could wish for a little character development - I mean I don't want angst, but some slight domestic interest would be nice - even if it's Michael's ongoing fight for tenure or another good acting role! He's a doormat in this one). However, even the slight conflict that had been building in previous books between Meg and Michael over her reluctance to commit to marriage was abandoned with no explanation. This is a shame, since even a little development of their relationship would add much to the enjoyment.
This book has a nice basic mystery, but it's really quite dull in a one dimensional, rather limp way, compared with the rest of the series. Perhaps Ms Andrews is losing interest in her heroine - if so, hope it's temporary as I really enjoy her work.
As a small aside(and I may be biased),I did infer with amusement that Ms Andrews may have a slightly hostile attitude to the English male for some reason - this is the second book with an English character (pointless since his nationality has no bearing on the story and adds no depth of background colour)who gets less than flattering treatment by the author.
The book ended with a possible 'hint' of the setting for the next one and I can only hope that Ms Andrews comes up with a more involving scenario to support her murders. Maybe she could re-read some of her earlier gems e.g. "Crouching Buzzard,Leaping Loon' for inspiration...
So, I'll read the next one, but for me the jury's still out...