Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Book Review: The Real Macaw by Donna Andrews (Meg Langslow #13)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Good, fast paced story with characters we love
Cons: Not as funny as previous books in the series
The Bottom Line
May not be funny
Still highly enjoyable
A fast and fun read

Being a New Mother Doesn't Slow Meg Down a Bit

The Real Macaw marks a big change for the long running Meg Langslow mystery series by Donna Andrews.  The last book ended with Meg going into labor with twins.  This book picks up four months later, so the newest additions to the family are quite young.  I wondered if it would make much difference to the story, but fortunately, that wasn't really an issue at all.

In the middle of a 2AM feeding with her four month old twins, Meg hears noises from downstairs.  Investigating, she finds her grandfather, father, brother, and a bunch of animals.  Seems the trio have robbed the local animal shelter and rescued the dogs, cats, hamsters, and one macaw that were set to be killed in order for the county to save money.

The trio had planned to meet up with Parker Blair and use the truck from his furniture business to take the animals to pre-arranged safe places in neighboring counties, but the plan hit a snag when Parker never showed up.  Turns out that this was because Parker has been murdered.  Was this because of his overactive love life, his involvement in the robbery, or something even more sinister?

There are two staples of the series that really help Meg with juggling motherhood and mystery investigation.  First, her extended family is always right there and ready to help (when not driving Meg crazy).  Plus her husband Michael spends more than his fair share of the time watching the twins.  Secondly, it often seems that Meg's house becomes the center of some insane group of people, including many of her suspects.  That means she can find out bits of information without even leaving home.

While Meg has never been a super driven sleuth, she tries to leave the investigation behind even more than normal in this book, not wanting to risk her life now that she has the twins.  But, of course, she keeps find bits of information and clues that point her in the right direction.  Actually, I was very surprised by a turn this book took, and I am very interested how it will be played out in the books to come.  The mystery moved forward steadily and ended with a thrilling climax.

My only real complaint with this book is the fact that it wasn't that funny.  The series is billed as a humorous mystery series, and some of the previous books have made me laugh out loud in public.  This time around, I found the characters and their antics amusing but not particularly funny.

I think that comes from familiarity with the characters.  What used to be funny is now familiar.  And the characters seem pretty much stuck in the same familiar characteristics.  They do feel real, but there is little moving them forward to further developing them.

Granted, I love these characters, so I am not complaining too much.  I enjoyed every page spent with them even if their ability to make me laugh isn't quite what it used to be.

That complaint aside, I think fans of the series will find much to enjoy in The Real Macaw.  I'd even say it is safe for new readers to jump in here since nothing about previous cases is discussed.

But if you do want to back track, here are the Meg Langslow Mysteries in order.

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