Thursday, August 27, 2020

Book Review: The Falcon Always Wings Twice by Donna Andrews (Meg Langslow #27)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Laughs, plot, characters
Cons: I smite all cons!
The Bottom Line:
Renaissance Faire book
Great characters, strong story
Filled with warmth, humor

The Game’s Afoot!

I was shocked when I saw that Meg Langslow was working at a Renaissance Faire for The Falcon Always Wings Twice, the twenty-seventh entry in the series.  If you aren’t familiar with the series, Meg is a blacksmith (although it is rare that we see her blacksmithing in the series), so it seems like a Renaissance Faire was a natural setting for one of her adventures.  But thinking back, I couldn’t think of that setting in any of the previous entries.  Finally going to a Renaissance Faire with Meg was well worth the wait.

Meg’s grandmother, Cordelia, has decided to host a Renaissance festival on her craft center property on the weekends this summer, and naturally the entire family has gotten involved in various capacities.  While Meg is selling her wares and doing blacksmithing demos (and working as Cordelia’s second in command), her husband, Michael, is in charge of the actors in “the Game,” which is what they have named the scenes they are doing featuring improv about who will inherit a fictional kingdom.  Michael is one of the actors, but he’s filled out the cast with friends who need summer jobs.

Unfortunately, one of the actors is Terence.  Terence has gone out of his way to make just about everyone miserable at some point over the course of the few weeks that the faire has been opened, so Meg isn’t terribly surprised when Terence’s body is found in the woods early one morning.  And she can’t help but get involved in the investigation as she goes about her day.  Can she figure out what happened?

When this series is at the top of its game, it is a pure delight.  And this book is the series at its best.  The murder might take place a little later than in some books, but the time is well spent setting up suspects and motives and getting to know Terence, so once he is killed, we are ready to jump in and figure out exactly what happened.  There are so many balls in the air that we are kept engrossed the entire time.  I never wanted to set the book down.  The climax does a great job of putting Meg in danger, answering the remain questions, and making us laugh all at the same time.

Yes, the humor in this book is top notch.  The series regulars are at their best here – making us laugh without annoying us.  Plenty of humor comes from the new characters as well, including Terence before he dies.  Yes, his behavior is reprehensible at times, but some of what he pulls is pretty funny, too.

And yet the characters aren’t caricatures.  We truly do care about them, and some of the development here made me tear up a little.  And can I say how much I love how Jamie and Josh, Meg and Michael’s twins, are maturing.

I suspect we’ve had next summer’s mystery set up in this book, although we’ll have to wait a while to see if I’m right since we get a new Christmas mystery first.

The Meg Langslow mysteries are comfort reads – time spent smiling and laughing with characters we know and love.  The Falcon Always Wings Twice is another excellent example of exactly why the series has so many loyal fans.

Enjoy more humor and mystery with the rest of the Meg Langslow mysteries.

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