Friday, October 24, 2014

Duck The Halls (Meg Langslow #16)

I think Donna Andrews is one of the funniest mystery writers writing today (RIP Elizabeth Peters!). Meg Langslow is a terrific character: smart, grounded, humorous.

Duck the Halls by Donna AndrewsOnly days before Christmas, perpetrators unknown leave a dozen or so skunks in one of the local churches, and Meg's organizational ability is called upon to rearrange all the church events while the building is fumigated. But as the pranks escalate to arson and someone dies, Meg's has to use all of her skills to solve the mystery before it ruins Christmas.

This particular installment wasn't one of my favorites. It had all the right elements: bizarre crimes, Meg's eccentric family, the quaint setting. I liked it--I'll no doubt read the next one (I mean, I've read all sixteen so far)--but it wasn't my favorite.

I'm trying to make a conscious attempt to study author techniques as I read, instead of blitzing through on a buzz of plot-fueled adrenaline. One thing I did admire was the way Andrews set up a personal as well as professional goal for Meg. Alongside the murder, Meg and her husband struggle to find quiet time to recreate the idyllic Christmas of Meg's childhood (and one both her mother and mother-in-law seem determined to ignore). The resolution of this particular goal was my favorite part of the whole book--it reminds me that readers need emotional payoffs (of the good kind) as well as just plot resolution.

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