Friday, December 27, 2013

Book Review: Duck the Halls by Donna Andrews (Meg Langslow #16)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Christmas setting added to great characters and story
Cons: Maybe only for Scrooge
The Bottom Line:
The churches are pranked
Days leading up to Christmas
Can the show go on?

Duck the Halls with Pranks and Murder Fa La La La La La La La La

I was a little surprised when I learned that we were getting another Christmas entry in the Meg Langslow series for 2013.  This is the sixteenth book in the series, and book ten was also a Christmas mystery.  I know other series have done it successfully, and I needed have worried because author Donna Andrews takes us down another delightful path of murder and mayhem with Duck the Halls.

In case you've missed this series somehow, it centers around Meg Langslow and her extended family and friends in a small Virginia college town.  Her husband, Michael, teaches drama at the college, in fact.  Each entry seems to find Meg responsible for something new in the community with murder and mystery attached.  They sprinkle in a dose of humor and are always light, fun reads.

The weekend before Christmas, Michael is awakened by his new beeper.  He's joined the local volunteer fire department, and they're being called to the Baptist church.  Only when they arrive, they find out that it wasn't a fire - someone had left a bunch of skunks in the choir loft.

Meg is drafted to work out schedules to allow the services and concerts of the Baptists and the other churches in the area to go on as planned but with new locations since the Baptist church is unusable until they get the smell out, but things don't improve when another prank hits another church the next night.  Who is behind it all?  And what might the motive be?  Things become even more urgent when a body is found in one church's basement.

If you are new to the series, you can pretty much jump in anywhere.  The characters are introduced well enough that you'll follow what is happening and who all the players are with little difficulty.  For those who already know the characters, they will continue to charm and entertain here.

Special mention must to be given to Meg and Michael's twins.  The last time we had a Christmas book, they hadn't been born yet, but Josh and Jamie are four-years-old for this book and completely steal any scenes they are in.  They have quickly become some of my favorite characters in the series.

The plot?  It's great.  While it might not have the typical quick murder of most cozies I read, the pranks kept me interested before the murder actually took place.  I did short things out a little faster than Meg did, but I wasn't completely sure until the villain was unmasked.

And despite all the pranks and mayhem along the way, this feels like a Christmas book.  A cup of hot chocolate or egg nog and a fire would be the perfect accompaniments for reading it.  It also covers new ground from the first book, although the traditions of that one are mentioned, so it's a nice nod for fans of the series.

All told, Duck the Halls was the perfect book to read right before Christmas (I finished Christmas Eve, in fact).  No matter what time of the year you read it, you'll be transported to the days before Christmas and all the joys that means, with a little murder thrown in.

Looking for more mirthful murder?  You'll want to read the rest of the Meg Langslow Mysteries in order.


  1. This does sound like a great book to read during the holidays, and I like that it could be read any time of year. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Absolutely you can read it any time of the year. The Meg books are always good.

      Happy New Year!