Gone Gull (Meg Langslow)
by Donna Andrews
Cover Artist: Maggie Parr
Review by Paul Haggerty
Minotaur Books Hardcover / eBook ISBN/ITEM#: 9781250078568
Date: 01 August 2017 List Price $25.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Meg Langslow is helping out her grandmother, Cordelia, at the new Biscuit Mountain Craft Center. At first, this just meant teaching a class on blacksmithing and keeping the peace between various members of her family, not the least of which involves her grandmother and grandfather. This then escalated with the added problem of a vandal wreaking havoc at random in the various craft studios. The possible suspects encompass the entire student body as well as the instructors.
Is it someone that is just bored and destructive? Or some trying to destroy the craft center's reputation before it even gets established? There's a rival craft center that doesn't like them very much. And a corporation that wanted to buy Biscuit Mountain, but got shut out by Cordelia. Either one could have hired someone to cause mischief.
And then there's Meg's grandfather, world famous naturalist, Dr. Montgomery Blake, whose efforts to protect wildlife and the environment has been a thorn in the side of any number of organizations. While perhaps not as likely, it's possible the vandal is targeting the craft center as a way of embarrassing him.
As usual, Meg has her hands full trying to juggle classes, family, and protecting the craft center. A job that is made yet more difficult when one of the teachers is found murdered. And to complicate matters, the victim was last seen taunting Dr. Blake with evidence that a rare gull, thought to be extinct, was actually still alive on the mountain.
The victim, Edward Prine, was generally disliked by pretty much anyone that knew him. But being annoying, argumentative, and thoroughly unpleasant isn't normally enough to get one stabbed in the back. Nor is withholding evidence of a rare gull from a naturalist. But people have been killed for much less.
Chief Heedles, the police chief of the nearby town of Riverton, has a full roster of suspects. Fortunately, she also has Meg to help whittle them down. Or so one would think. But lots of people have secrets, and lots of people have histories. And the more the investigation digs, the more knotted the web of people, pasts, and relationships become. It quickly becomes apparent that the more relevant question is: Who didn't want Prine dead?
The Meg Langslow mysteries started out with Meg getting into danger every book, trying to solve the crimes by herself. But Meg has grown and evolved over the novels, becoming respected by the police, and respecting their authority in return. She may keep her eyes and ears open for clues, and rummage around here and there as the opportunity strikes, but she's quick on the phone to give the police every detail she comes across and letting them do their job, which frankly they're far more suited to perform. Fortunately, this also includes the actual apprehension of the criminals.
Still, a lot of her family is at the craft center, including her twin sons. And there are any number of other children in residence as part of a kid's program. Meg may want to leave it all up to the cops but when the safety of her family is concerned, she tends to return to pushing against some of those professional/amateur sleuth boundaries. How far she'll push, and what will push back is always a mystery of its own.