Thursday, December 10, 2020

Book Review: The Gift of the Magpie by Donna Andrews (Meg Langslow #28)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Another fun Christmas mystery
Cons: Pacing off at the beginning
The Bottom Line:
Helping a hoarder
Meg must manage mystery
Cheerful Christmas case

Who Used a Helping Hand to Murder?

I have my traditions when it comes to the holidays.  One of those is saving a few Christmas cozies to read in late November or early December.  I’ve been able to do that seven times now with Christmas themed entries in the long running Meg Langslow series from Donna Andrews.  The Gift of the Magpie is the latest Christmas mystery to feature Meg, and it’s another treat.

As if the holidays weren’t busy enough, this year the churches in Caerphilly, Virginia, have started a charity project called Helping Hands for the Holidays.  There is no limit to what they will take on, anything from finishing a quilt to spreading manure or replacing lightbulbs.  Naturally, Meg is in the think of it, organizing the various projects.

One of the more challenging is Harvey the Hoarder.  Getting his house cleaned out and repaired is a last resort for him since his relatives and neighbors are threatening to call in the county if he doesn’t do something with all the stuff he has in his house.  With everyone pitching in, they make good progress on the first day, but the second day gets off to a sour note when Meg finds Harvey in his garage in a pool of blood.  Rumors abound that there was something valuable hidden in his house.  Did that get him killed?

These books are always filled with several sub-plots to get various members of the large cast of characters involved in the proceedings.  And yes, one of them does involve magpies.  While I always enjoy these stories since I love the characters, I did feel it slowed down the mystery early on.  However, once Meg finds Harvey, the sub-plots weave around the main mystery much better.  And this isn’t to say I was ever bored.

Once the mystery kicks into high gear, it is wonderful.  We’ve got the usual assortment of fantastic suspects and clues and red herrings to keep us guessing until the end.

Meanwhile, we have the sub-plots to provide some Christmas spirit.  I really enjoyed seeing how all those played out.

And that’s because I love this cast of characters.  I mean, I wouldn’t be on book twenty-eight in the series if I didn’t.  Everyone is at their most entertaining here.

I didn’t find this book as funny as some entries in the series.  Maybe because hoarding hit a little too close to home.  There is a fine line between collecting and hoarding.  And between being lazy and hoarding.  I’ve got to make time to declutter – just as soon as I finish my next book, of course.

There’s still time this month to settle in with a Christmas mystery.  So light the fire, grab a mug of hot chocolate, and enjoy The Gift of the Magpie.

And be sure to enjoy the rest of the Meg Langslow Mysteries.


  1. Thanks for posting this... I was able to put a hold on it at one of the county libraries still open for pickup.

  2. This is one of my absolute favorite series and I'm really looking forward to picking this one up. Definitely understand the collecting being too close to hoarding! I walk that line a little too closely myself sometimes!