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Thursday, April 5, 2012

Review - The Real Macaw

Murder With Peacocks, Donna Andrews' first book in this series, won St. Martin's Malice Domestic Award, an Agatha, and an Anthony.  This year Donna Andrews is nominated for an Agatha with 2011's, The Real Macaw.   As part of our Agatha Awards coverage, I wanted to review this nominee.

Author: Donna Andrews

Copyright: July 2011 (Minotaur Books) 320 pgs

Series: 11th? in Meg Langslow Mysteries

Sensuality: n/a

Mystery Sub-genre: Cozy

Main Characters: Meg Langslow, Artistic wrought-iron blacksmith

Setting: Modern day, Caerphilly Virginia

Obtained Through: library

The book opens with Meg conducting a 2 a.m. feeding of her four-month-old twins, only to be interrupted with the relocation of the county animal shelter to her home and barn.  The shelter is closing because of a town financial crisis.  Her father, grandfather, and brother are part of the citizen activist group formed to "break the animals out" before they are all exterminated. But their plans fall flat when the Parker Blair never shows with his furniture store truck to transport the animals.  Her family naturally rallies together, and brings every shelter animal to Meg's. 

By dawn the police have arrived, because Parker Blair was murdered.  Before this wild and long day ends, Meg will find surveyors on her property. Political fraud in small town Caerphilly shocks the townspeople. The foul-mouthed Macaw ends up playing into the solution.

This is my first Meg cozy so I have none of the prior books to compare to, no pre-twins Meg.  Meg does seem one of the few sane people in her family, and even in the town. Since the series has been around for many books, there is not much character development on her family.  But what is revealed of family and the town's citizens, shows an eccentric cast. 
The plot of an unethical local politician selling a town to developers for his own interests under the guise of budget concerns is realistic.  This has the town frantic while the police try to investigate during relocating their office.  Meg naturally asks questions and informs the police chief as she goes.   But the twins becomes too much in a busy plot.  Meg has too much going on and the twins are shuffled around. Michael is the  ever-in-the-background husband amidst late night feedings, milk-pumping and so on. 

The killer was not obvious, which was nice.  The pacing took some time to get going, but took off fairly soon.  I was expecting more humor and laughable situations, but I felt there wasn't the much.  The beginning had the zaniest mix.  I don't know if that is standard since I am new to the series.

Overall this was a fun cozy, but I believe that newcomers would be best to begin with earlier books to get to know Meg and her family.  The first book, Murder with Peacocks, would be best to start with.  I hope to go back and start with that one myself.

Here is a fun little video about the amazing parrot, Einstein, who loves to show off.   She is an African Grey featured at the Knoxville Zoo!

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