A California Magazine with Local Focus and Global Appeal:
Community - Entertainment - Human Interest


Weekly issues every Saturday morning and other special articles throughout the week — there's something for everyone. Check out our sister site KRL News & Reviews for even more articles every week.

Previous post:

Next post:


Lark! The Herald Angels Sing By Donna Andrews: Review/Giveaway/Guest Post

IN THE December 8 ISSUE

FROM THE 2018 Articles,
andMysteryrat's Maze,
andSandra Murphy
SECTIONS

by Sandra Murphy

We have a bunch of reviews and giveaways of Christmas mysteries this week, including one of Lark! The Herald Angels Sing by Donna Andrews. Donna also have a fun Christmas guest post for us. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of Lark! The Herald Angels Sing, a link to purchase it from Amazon, and an indie bookstore where a portion of the sale goes to help support KRL.

Lark! The Herald Angels Sing: Meg Langslow series By Donna Andrews
Review by Sandra Murphy

Meg Langslow leads an active life, what with helping at the church, being married to Michael, and mother to twin boys. That’s not counting the things her mother volunteers her for, or her dad, or even grandad. No wonder she carries her planner with her at all times.

It’s hard to corral pre-teens for a Christmas pageant rehearsal, but Meg can keep them in line with a good Mom Stare. It’s a surprise to all when the baby in the manger is not Baby Jesus or even his real life stand-in, Noah. This baby is a girl. A note pinned to the baby’s outfit seems to implicate Meg’s brother as a responsible party which he denies. His fiancé isn’t easily convinced. mystery book cover

Meg is able to figure out the baby wasn’t dropped off because she’s inconvenient but because she’s in danger. There’s a search underway for a murderer in Clay County. Is there a connection? The women’s shelter Christmas party is on her schedule, plus shopping and wrapping her own gifts.

With no foster parents available, Meg and Michael keep Lark with them. When the social worker shows up with the baby’s mom, Meg has reservations and pushes to not let the woman take the child.

The Clay County police force is corrupt, from the top down to the patrol officers. It’s a worry that when the suspected murderer is caught, he won’t live long enough to serve his sentence.

As usual, anything Meg is involved it, turns out to be more convoluted than first imagined. There’s always something going on with family—she has a houseful of relatives coming to visit. Her dad is unpredictable unless you think he’ll do something totally crazy and mostly it will work out. Her mother puts herself in charge of decorating Meg’s house and it’s easier to let her than argue. It’s typical holiday family angst times ten (or more).

Luckily, Meg knows everyone in town and can call on others to help in times of frequent crisis. In fact, the police dispatcher, answers the phone with, “Hi, Meg.”

This is the twenty-fourth book in the series. The Christmas spirit will get you in the mood for the holidays while Meg’s family will remind you to put away the breakables and make more cookies. The ending is one you won’t see coming but will find satisfying as well as humorous. One of the nicest things about this series is, you can jump right in with this book and not worry about the backstory. On the other hand, you may want to put the first twenty-three books on your holiday wish list.

Sandra Murphy lives in the shadow of the Arch in St. Louis Missouri. She writes about eco-friendly topics, pets and wildlife for magazines and reviews mysteries and thrillers for KRL. A collection of her short stories, published by Untreed Reads, From Hay to Eternity: Ten Tales of Crime and Deception can be found at all the usual outlets. Each one is a little weird and all have a twist you won’t see coming.

My Worst Christmas
By Donna Andrew

I’ve done five Christmas mysteries. I’m about to work on a sixth. People ask me sometimes if it isn’t hard to write a mystery set at Christmas. Well, yes. We all feel the pressure to be kinder and gentler around the holidays—that expectation carries over into books. We still have to kill someone, mind you—but the pressure is on to keep the tone lighter, more festive than at other times of the year. I did once kill Santa Claus—okay, not the REAL Santa Claus, but the human grinch who for reasons too complicated to explain here was playing Santa in the local Christmas parade. But it was okay. Meg’s Dad took over the job and did it brilliantly. But still—in a Christmas mystery you have to careful who you kill and how you kill them.mystery book cover

And then there’s the fact that my editor is a certified Christmas addict. That’s one reason he loves getting me to write Christmas books—because he loves the season. Whenever I have trouble getting into the Christmas mood, I just imagine Pete behind me, shouting, “More tinsel! More mistletoe! More carols! More evergreen! And more snow! A whole lot more snow!”

He lives in New York. I live, and my books are set, in Virginia. We don’t often have white Christmases here. (I had to break that news to my editor recently. He’s still feeling sorry for me.) According to the National Weather Service, a white Christmas is officially defined as “a morning snow depth of 1” or greater (measured at 7 a.m. EST).” Most places in New York, outside of New York City, have a better than 50/50 chance of having a white Christmas. The probability of that happening in Northern Virginia, where I live, is about 10%. My imaginary town of Caerphilly is south of Northern Virginia, though north of Richmond, Virginia, which has only a 6% probability of a white Christmas. The last time Norfolk, Virginia, had a white Christmas was in 1966. I figure the odds in Caerphilly are probably around 8%. A probability that I resolutely ignore. If it’s Christmas in Caerphilly, there’s probably snow. I think Meg has had more white Christmases in my six Christmas books than I’ve had in my whole life.mystery

But I think the toughest thing about writing a Christmas book is that I haven’t yet figured out how to make really good use of the story of my worst Christmas ever.

So here it is.

I have no idea how old I was, but definitely still in the milk-and-cookies-for-Santa stage. And there was something I wanted for Christmas. I mean, really wanted; I knew I’d just DIE if I didn’t get it.

christmas

Andrews christmas 1956

Strangely, I no longer remember just what it was.

Anyway, the usual drill on Christmas was that all the presents to and from family were wrapped and under the tree by Christmas eve, and the stockings hung on the fireplace. Then in the morning my brother and I were supposed to stay upstairs in our bedrooms until our parents came to the foot of the stairs to call us down, and we’d all walk into the living room together to see what Santa had brought.

Normally I was a late sleeper, but I was up that Christmas morning when the sky was still barely light. I tried to go back to sleep—no luck. I opened my bedroom door and sat at the top of the stairs for a while. I could wait there for my parents. Even my brother, the traitor, was still asleep.

I gave in to temptation and crept downstairs. Just to see if Santa had brought me my heart’s desire (whatever it was.)

christmas

Andrews Christmas 1954

Santa hadn’t come.

The wrapped presents were still there, looking pretty puny when compared with the expected loot from the North Pole. The stockings still hung limp. I don’t recall whether the milk and cookies were gone. I was too stunned to look.

I slunk upstairs, crawled back into bed, and spent the most miserable hour or two of my life.

Clearly I had screwed up big time. And so had my brother, apparently. I had no idea what we’d done, but whatever it was had to have been pretty heinous.

I wonder if my parents found it puzzling that I was so difficult to rouse, and in such a leaden mood as I trudged down the stairs. They didn’t know yet. But as soon as we all walked into the living room they’d know. And the interrogation would begin.

Imagine my astonishment when I walked into the living room and found that Santa had come after all. There were presents spread under the tree. Lots of them. Our stockings were bulging at the seams. The usual thank you note from Santa was lying by the empty plate and glass.

I was relieved—but still a little shell-shocked. Not only do I not remember what it was I had coveted so badly, I can’t remember if I got it. It took a while to bounce back from my earlier misery.

I later decided that Santa must have been running late that year, and for some reason we were near the end of his route. I’d just gone down a little early. I vowed never to make that mistake again. Because I had no desire to repeat my worst Christmas ever.

Sometimes the worst Christmases make the best stories, though.

To enter to win a copy of Lark! The Herald Angels Sing, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “lark,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen December 15, 2018. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address (so if you win we can get the book sent right out to you), and if via comment please include your email address. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Be sure to check out our new mystery podcast too with mystery short stories, and first chapters. Our latest episode is set at Christmas time.

Use this link to purchase the book & a portion goes to help support KRL & indie bookstore Mysterious Galaxy:

You can also use this link to purchase the book on Amazon. If you have ad blocker on you may not see the link:

Donna Andrews is the Agatha-, Anthony-, and Lefty Award-winning author of the Meg Langslow series from Minotaur. Her most recent books are Lark the Herald Angels Sing (October 2018) and Toucan Keep a Secret (July 2018). She blogs with the Femmes Fatales. For more information check out her website.

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases using those links. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Faith CreechNo Gravatar December 8, 2018 at 8:13pm

Thanks for the article and the chance to win!
Sounds really good.

faithdcreech at gmail dot com

Reply

2 Debbie PriceNo Gravatar December 9, 2018 at 5:15am

Donna Andrews stories are the absolute best! I devour her books and always laugh so hard at her characters! Thank you for the chance to win this book!
debprice60@gmail.com

Reply

3 Amy DonahueNo Gravatar December 9, 2018 at 6:16am

I loved reading the author’s worst Christmas memory ?
Donah42 at aol dot com

Reply

4 Amy DonahueNo Gravatar December 9, 2018 at 6:17am

The question mark was a heart emoji in my draft lol

Reply

5 Paula AdamsNo Gravatar
Twitter: @qnofdnile
December 9, 2018 at 9:57am

I love Donnna Andrew’s books. Love the titles and covers too.
Thank you so much for this chance. pgenest57(at)aol(dot)com

Reply

6 CarlNo Gravatar December 9, 2018 at 11:25am

What a great collection of Christmas mysteries! this is another one that we’d love to have a copy of. Thanks for the chance to win! crs(at)codedivasites(dot)com

Reply

7 JAIME L MINTERNo Gravatar December 9, 2018 at 12:33pm

I would love to win this one! Thanks for the chance!
JL_Minter@hotmail(dot)com

Reply

8 Taylor R. WilliamsNo Gravatar December 9, 2018 at 5:12pm

so glad there is another one coming out – can’t wait to read it – this is a super series – trwilliams69 at msn dot com

Reply

9 Robin L. CoxonNo Gravatar December 10, 2018 at 5:54am

Donna Andrews books have the greatest titles and covers. I would love to add this one to my library. robeader53(at)yahoo(dot)com

Reply

10 CarolNo Gravatar December 11, 2018 at 3:41pm

Lark. Would love to win this. I recommend Donna’s mysteries to everyone!

Reply

11 CarolNo Gravatar December 11, 2018 at 3:42pm

Forgot my email address.
schmokercarol@gmail(dot)com

Reply

12 Dianne CaseyNo Gravatar December 11, 2018 at 5:36pm

Sounds like a great Christmas story. Would really like to read.
diannekc8(at)gmail(dot)com

Reply

13 Nora-Adrienne DeretNo Gravatar
Twitter: @NoraAdrienne
December 12, 2018 at 7:31am

I’m a big fan of Donna’s books. I’ve already read this one but am very greedy and want to own it. Please toss my name into the contest.
A recent post from Nora-Adrienne Deret: Geez Louise the month just flew by!My Profile

Reply

14 Kara MarksNo Gravatar December 12, 2018 at 1:04pm

Doesn’t this sound great? Legallyblonde1961@yahoo.com

Reply

15 Sharon WhaleyNo Gravatar December 13, 2018 at 8:59am

Love hearing about her memory
jwhaley4@aol.com

Reply

16 LorieNo Gravatar
Twitter: @mysteryrat
December 17, 2018 at 10:48am

We have a winner!

Reply

Leave a Comment

Twitter ID
(ID only; No links or "@" symbols)

CommentLuv badge

Previous post:

Next post:

  • Arts & Entertainment

  • Books & Tales

  • Community

  • Education

  • Food Fun

  • Helping Hands

  • Hometown History

  • Pets

  • Teens

  • Terrific Tales