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Gone Gull: A Meg Langslow Mystery (Meg Langslow Mysteries) Hardcover – August 1, 2017
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"Witty prose and distinctive characters set this long-running series above the cozy pack." ―Publishers Weekly on Gone Gull
"Fans will find all the beloved hallmarks of this award-winning series: fresh characters, an engaging puzzle, and delightful humor.” ―Library Journal on Gone Gull
"If you long for more fun mysteries, a la Janet Evanovich, you'll love Donna Andrews's Meg Langslow series." ―Charlotte Observer
"A long-running series that gets better all the time. A fine blend of academic satire, screwball comedy, and murder." ―Booklist on Lord of the Wings
"With its well-spun plots and distinctive characters, Andrews’s amusing avian-named series shows no signs of growing stale." ―Publishers Weekly on Die Like an Eagle
About the Author
DONNA ANDREWS is a winner of the Agatha, Anthony, and Barry Awards, a Romantic Times Award for best first novel, and four Lefty and two Toby Bromberg awards for funniest mystery. She is a member of MWA, Sisters in Crime, and the Private Investigators and Security Association. Andrews lives in Reston, Virginia. Gone Gull is Andrews's the 21st mystery in the Meg Langslow series.
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I hope Ms. Andrews finds a charmingly eccentric side to Cordelia, who so far seems boringly sane and competent. I hope Andrews doesn't fall into the trap of creating an ongoing character as boring as Lillian Jackson Braun's character Polly in "The Cat Who..." series,
Well, blacksmithing and family. You see, her grandmother, Cordelia, is opening up a craft retreat on some old family land. Meg has signed up to teach blacksmithing classes all summer, and various family members are also helping out with their expertise, including her grandfather, who is helping teach a nature photography class.
This is the first summer the center has been open, and the first week has some unexpected hitches. Someone is attempting to sabotage the center, leaving windows open in the rain, breaking things, throwing paint on canvases. There are suspicions as to who is behind it, but no proof yet.
However, things take a huge turn when Meg discovers the body of a fellow instructor one morning early in the second week. Has the saboteur turned to murder? Or, since no one liked this instructor, could it be unrelated to the sabotage that has been going on?
Wondering about the title? There is a sub-plot involving Meg’s grandfather, a world-famous naturalist and conservationist, trying to track down an incredibly rare gull. It adds quite a bit of humor to the proceedings as does his interactions with Cordelia. Personally, I found this funnier than some of the antics of the crafters.
The antics of the characters can often overshadow the mystery. If you look back at older books, you’ll see this is the case as well. I’m afraid it did here again as well. Oh, don’t get me wrong, there are twists and suspects. However, Meg doesn’t seem to uncover as much as she has in books past, and I found the climax a bit weaker than it could have been. Suspenseful and creative, but weaker in other ways.
But this isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy every page. There’s a reason that this series is still going strong after 20 books in the series. The books are full of fun and characters we love. Since this book is set outside of Meg’s hometown, we don’t see all of the series regulars, but that’s okay because the new characters we get to meet here are more than up for filling in any holes. I wouldn’t mind seeing some of them again. The returning characters that are here are a delight as always. Time with them is never wrong.
But I had a revelation while reading this series. Yes, I enjoy the mysteries and the humor, but I have also fallen in love with the family community that Donna Andrews has created in these books. This was really driven home to me late in the book when the characters face a crisis (no spoilers, don’t worry), and they figure out a way to support each other despite what is going on. No, it wasn’t sappy, but I really enjoyed seeing it.
So fans of Donna Andrews and her character Meg Langslow will find much to enjoy here. Pick up Gone Gull today and be swept up in another entertaining tale.
When we met Meg in book one, MURDER WITH PEACOCKS, Meg felt like the odd one. Her older sister, Pam, and younger brother, Rob, took after their mother, the lovely and gracious Margaret, whose extensive Hollingsworth family includes a number of useful members. Meg looks nothing like the Hollingsworths. Nor does she look like her father, Dr. James Langslow, who was an adopted foundling. (By the way, although several characters have 'Doctor' in front of their names, they're PhDs. James is the only medical doctor.) Meg is the organized one. From whom did she inherit her looks and that skill?
It wasn't from Dr. Montgomery Blake, James' famous biological father, whom we met in book 8, THE PENGUIN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH, is eccentric enough to be a Hollingsworth. He's been a regular part of the cast ever since. He did let Meg know that she was the spitting image of Cordelia, his long-lost love.
We finally met Cordelia Lee Mason in book 17, and Meg very obviously takes after her. Cordelia has bought the old abandoned Biscuit Mountain Pottery Factory that had belonged to her family and turned it into a craft center. Her blacksmith granddaughter has helped her sign on some teachers for the first classes. One of them is Amanda Walker, Meg's friend from one of my personal favorites in the series: book 3, REVENGE OF THE WROUGHT-IRON FLAMINGOS. Amanda's teaching weaving.
Dr. Blake, assisted by his staff nature photographer, Baptiste Deshommes, and his son, is teaching nature photography. His old friend, the delightful Dr. Caroline Willner, is also helping Monty. Meg's cousin, Rose Noire, is teaching a class on herbs. Meg's husband. Dr. Michael Waterston, is teaching acting to children, including their eight-year-old twins, Josh and Jamie.
Meg's nephew, Eric McReady, who used to be the little kid to enjoy and worry about, is helping to mind the twins. His older brother, Kevin, the cyber whiz, plays an important role, if only through phone calls and texts/email. A phone call is all we get to "see" of Rob in this book, though I can assure fans that Mrs. Langslow does put in an actual appearance. So does Spike, who has been a part of this series since book one. (Spike was originally Meg's mother-in-law's dog, but Ms. Andrews found a way to stick Meg and Michael with him.)
We open with the second week of classes, where one of Meg's students, Victor "The Klutz" Winter, is being his annoying self. How annoying? Meg shares a few of her homicidal fantasies with us. There's been a problem with vandalism. Is Victor the vandal? Or is it the student they call "The Slacker"? (We don't learn his name until the last chapter). Mrs. Venable, the older student whom Dr. Blake dislikes intensely -- with good reason -- is another suspicious character. Jenni Santo is a student known to wander. Could any of them be working for the two men who want to put the craft center out of business? Calvin Whiffletree, owner of the rival Jazz Hands Art Academy, is one. (Kevin refers to it as Jazz Hands Craft Academy in chapter 4, but that's probably just a mistake.) Developer Charles Rahn, owner of Smith Enterprises, is the other.
There are other teachers at the center. Edward Prine, the painter, has the worst personality. Marty, the fabulous cook, is in the running for the worst temper. Of course mere vandalism soon turns to murder. Aside from being an excuse to bring in cousin Horace Hollingsworth for his forensic expertise a bit earlier than his planned classes, it solves one of the center's problems.
The gull in the title will be explained in chapter 5. Those gulls will be a running subplot.
See book 4, WE'LL ALWAYS HAVE PARROTS for Michael's acting on the fictional cult TV show. (That one's another personal favorite of mine. I've attended science fiction and media conventions. They didn't have a murder, but some of the fans attending were types you'll see in the book.)
We first met Rob's company, Mutant Wizards, in book 4, CROUCHING BUZZARD, LEAPING LOON
Attorney cousin Festus Hollingsworth was introduced in book 13, THE REAL MACAW.
See chapter 16 of THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE EMUS for when Meg had the same thought when she was at Pudding Mountain.
This is my favorite cozy mystery series that's still ongoing (thank goodness!). There's plenty of the humor that makes these books such a delight to read. I'm glad to see so many of the usual gang, even if a couple get only cameos. I'm particularly happy to see more of Cordelia. While there's enough information that a new reader should be able to follow the story, I really recommend reading the entire series, especially in order.
Dog lovers in general, and definitely fans of Spike (also known as the "Small Evil One"), rejoice! The fluffy fiend has more than a mere cameo this time!