Saturday, April 27, 2013

Book Review: Six Geese A-Slaying by Donna Andrews (Meg Langslow #10)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Lots of Christmas laughs
Cons: Mystery was a little light
The Bottom Line:
Meg is always light
But this one is lighter still
Perfect for Christmas

Doesn't Killing Santa Make You Naughty?

If I get a chance, I enjoy reading a Christmas mystery during December.  This year I was fortunate because Donna Andrews released a Christmas themed mystery in her Meg Langslow series.  Six Geese A-Slaying is everything fans of the series know and love, this time with a Christmas twist.

Meg has been talked into being this year's "Mistress of the Revels" for the college town of Caerphilly, Virginia.  Really, that's just a fancy way of saying she is responsible for coordinating the annual Christmas, er Holiday, parade, which this year is traveling from Meg and her husband Michael's house to the center of town.  As the book opens, it's December 23rd, and it's the last few hours before the parade starts.  Between the competing drummers and pipers for the Twelve Days of Christmas, the very pregnant virgin Mary, and the live elephants for the Diwali portion of the parade, she has her hands full.

And that's even without dealing with Ralph Doleson.  Since he fits the costume, Meg is stuck with him as Santa even though he'd be better suited to play Scrooge.  But his grumbling is short lived since someone drives a stake of holly through his heart.  Now Meg has to find a killer before someone who didn't commit murder spends Christmas in jail.

One thing you can count on in this series is humor, and there's plenty of it here.  I especially enjoyed the antics of SPOOR (that's Stop Poisoning Our Owls and Raptors).  There are some funny scenes involving the camels.  And there are witty lines galore.  In fact, this book has some of the best uses for lines from A Christmas Carol outside of Dicken's original.  (Michael has been rehearsing a one man version of the classic, so both he and Meg have it memorized.)

As always, the characters are great.  Meg and Michael provide the sane center in the crazy whirl around them.  They are the only truly real characters here.  Yet all the characters still come off as real even if they are leaning toward the caricature side of things.  And I don't mind because many of them get me to laugh as well.  One of the best laughs comes from the temporary medical examiner.  And Cousin Horace and his gorilla suit are present and accounted for as well.  I always like it when he has a strong part.

The book starts out more laughs then plot, but as it progresses, things switch.  The best laughs come in the first part and the pace of the mystery picks up in the second.  I did nail the killer fairly early on, but I didn't get the motive until Meg figured it out.  And, honestly, I was having such a good time, it didn't bother me that much.

If you need a light mystery to get you in the Christmas spirit, Six Geese A-Slaying is perfect.  I'm just glad my Christmases are never this crazy.

If you enjoy this Christmas mystery, be sure to check out the rest of the Meg Langslow Mysteries in order.

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