Six Geese A-Slaying (Meg Langslow Mysteries)
by Donna Andrews
Cover Artist: Griesbach/Martucci
Review by Paul Haggerty
St. Martin's Minotaur Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780312536107
Date: 28 October 2008 List Price $22.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Meg Langslow finds herself in a precarious social situation. Her husband, Michael, is up for tenure at the local college. That means that the tenure committee must be kept happy at all times, even if you feel like running away screaming instead. Which is, therefore, why she was "happy" to be volunteered as the Mistress of the Revels; her performance at which will be remembered by everyone in town for decades to come. It's just a little job of organizing and running Caerphilly County's annual Christmas Parade. All she has to do is coordinate hundreds of people, dozens of floats, several multiply-antagonistic groups, a big city reporter bent on making the country hicks look ridiculous and, as a last minute little detail, figure out who killed Santa.
Six Geese A-Slaying is the tenth volume in the Meg Langslow mystery series, and Meg has her hands full to overflowing. There's enough to do just getting all the floats (primarily based on a Twelve Days of Christmas theme) in the right order and everybody who's suppose to be on them in place. The Virgin Mary is looking like she could go into labor at any second, and there's the little matter of the sixty geese a-laying. There's only supposed to be six, but the entire SPOOR (Stop Poisoning Our Owls and Raptors) group has shown up in costume and is insisting on marching. There's the reporter from Washington D.C., who is poking around and taking candid photos (whenever he sees something potentially embarrassing) and, of course, Mother Nature has to have a say in matters. The forecast is for a major snowstorm, which may or may not arrive before the parade reaches the town
So, with a dozen things to arrange, including finding a last minute replacement for Santa Claus, the last thing she wants to get involved with is yet another murder. Pity they keep happening at her house. In this, at least, you can see some definite growth in the characters. A few books back, Meg would have been a prime suspect. Now the chief just asks to use her dining room and barn and gets on with finding out who really did it. Naturally, Meg can't just leave it alone, no matter how much she tries. There are just too many friends and family involved for her to leave it in the hands of the police. And the chief, rather than continually warning her to keep her nose out of it, seems to have bowed to the inevitable, and just tries to keep her to the sidelines as much as possible.
As usual, the cast of Six Geese A-Slaying consists of primarily well known characters, with a small sprinkling of new faces so that you won't automatically know who the murderer is. And with a major snowstorm coming down, there's plenty of opportunity for phones to fail, cell-phones to lose connectivity, and our plucky heroine to place herself in places of danger and intrigue … all the tropes we've come to wonder about in our mysteries, but given a plausible excuse for a change. One such trope is why does the hero refuse to tell somebody over the phone about the evidence they've collected? It just begs the villain to show up and menace them. When something of this type occurs in this book, I turned and complained about it to my wife. Then, when returning to the book, I found Andrews having Meg explain in logical and rational terms exactly why she couldn't say anything over the phone. Smart-alec authors!
If you've enjoyed the previous books in this series, you will not be disappointed. Each Meg Langslow mystery is new and different in plot, so each story is a refreshing treat. And the established cast of characters always provides a warm welcome to the returning reader. If you haven't sampled this series before, but you're a fan of amateur sleuths, give these books a try. Starting with Murder with Peacocks, Meg, Michael, and the rest of the extended Langslow clan will entertain you for hours.