Tour’s Books Blog

February 28, 2009

BOOK REVIEW: Six Geese A-Slaying by Donna Andrews

Donna Andrews write two series, the Meg Langslow books, true cozy amateur detective, and the Turning Hopper books –  Turning is actually an artificial intelligence that ‘lives’ inside research programs. She’s won many awards, including the Lefty for the most humorous mystery. Six Geese A-Slaying breaks no new ground, but does a fairly satisfying job of telling a thin story in her 10th Meg Langslow outing. In this series every title has a bird, like Murder with Puffins, Revenge of the Wrought Iron Flamingos, Owls Well the Ends Well (a personal favorite), and We’ll Always Have Parrots. She also has Meg age and evolve naturally through her relationship with now husband Michael Waterston, tenure track professor at Caerphilly College, actor in a B-grade ‘graphic novel’ based TV show, and all around easy going hunk. Alas, Michael is barely a supporting character in this tale.

It’s December 23rd and snowing in Caerphilly County, Virginia. Meg Langslow is “Mistress of Revels” and she sums up her feelings in the first line, “Bah humbug!” The fife and drum players are staging a battle of the bands with the bagpipers. The local animal activists are dressing up as the six geese – but there are about 30 of them. The three kings have to manage 3 camels instead of riding a float as planned and Balthazar, AKA Police Chief Burke, is not a happy king. The elephant is there to represent Dawali – this is a very politically correct parade. The Boy Scouts are camping in her field and they’re supplying the essential ‘clean-up’ services for all the animals. Santa is once again being played by the most hated man in town, Ralph Doleson, because he’s the only one who fits the Santa suit. Mrs. Claus is the wife of the Dean that will help decide if Michael gets tenure. Some damn reporter shows up unannounced to get a story and photos – and generally complain about being given such a lowly assignment. And did I mention it’s snowing – really, really snowing.

Getting this parade off on time is crucial. Then nephew Eric and his friend Cal Burke, the chief’s grandson, come running with the news that there’s something “wrong” with Santa. Meg heads to his ‘changing room’ – the pig shed – and Santa is dead. Luckily, cousin Horace, a crime scene specialist, is there – dressed as usual in his gorilla suit. Dr Smoot, the medical examiner and Police Chief Burke are also there – and frankly, the Chief is damn glad to be off that camel. Now Meg needs a new Santa and a new Balthazar. Meg’s dad has his own Santa suit from Christmases past and happily does his thing.  Mrs. Burke is a sport and dons her husband’s costume to be Balthazar and the parade goes on. Except the blasted reporter wants Meg to find his lost camera even though he’s just not sure where he was when he lost it – he realizes he now has an inside track on a front page worthy story.

The usual chaos ensues, Meg can’t resist getting nosy about the chief’s suspect interviews and then meddling by doing her own investigation. The big problem for me is, who did it is obvious by page 30 for any decent mystery fans. Still the ride is an entertaining one.

Andrews is doing better than Evanovich in holding the line of allowing the insanity to override the mystery, but some of the zany antics are getting all too predictable and repetitive. While this outing is a bit more humdrum than most of her stories, it’s still an entertaining bit of fluff.

My Grade: C+ to B- overall the series is C+ to A-

Who would enjoy this book: Fans of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum, Ellen Byerrum, Kasey Michaels, and Lisa Lutz’s Spellman series. The rating is PG for the entire series.

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