by Cynthia Chow
Details at the end of the post on how to enter to win a copy of the book, and a link to order it from Amazon.
It’s that most wonderful time of the year, when an avian-titled holiday mystery from bestselling author Donna Andrews is released into the wild! For this thirtieth entry into the long-running series, blacksmith Meg Langslow is unfortunately not currently on a skiing trip with her husband and twin sons. That is an indirect – and direct – result of her being forced to host wildlife artist Roderick Castlemayne and his subjects in her home. Since the temperamental artist finds the zoo too stifling but still demands to paint in front of real subjects, Meg’s famous television environmentalist grandfather Dr. J. Montgomery Blake has coerced her into housing Castlemayne and a dozen Mockingjays. It was also his insistence on painting them outside of cages that led to the attempts to retrieve them, his callous push of a ladder, and Meg’s resulting sprained ankle. Castlemayne’s insistence on smoking despite her numerous warnings is the last straw, but before Meg can have him removed, someone else does it for her. Permanently.
Done in with a knife in the library, this unfortunate game of Clue has an abundance of suspects who threaten to dampen Meg’s holiday. Castlemayne had two ex-wives hunting him down demanding alimony, an assortment of pending lawsuits, and an ambitious online reporter all on his trail and wanting figurative – and maybe literal – blood. Meg would prefer that the rather put-upon police chief track down the killer, but she also wants the crime scene cleared out. This is especially crucial as her brother Rob and his fiancée Delaney are coming up from Florida to spend Christmas with the family, and their respective mothers are determined to plan their dream wedding for their children. Grandfather’s additional project of studying the biofluorescence of wombats explains why there are an assortment of them being housed in Meg’s dark basement, along with the Wombat Cams set up to monitor them. Although Meg had actually checked off most of the items listed in her notebook-that-tells-her-when-to-breathe in anticipation for her cancelled ski trip, she now has her hands full once again as she attempts to rein in her grandfather, hide the wedding-planning mothers, dog-sit a rotating number of Pomeranians, and capture the free and air-pooping Mockingjays.
This series continues to elicit laugh-out loud moments along with genuinely heartfelt sentiments. So much of the humor stems from Meg’s practicality in the face of her family’s absurdity, which from their viewpoints aren’t acting irrational at all. Longtime readers will appreciate the appearances of many of their favorite characters who pop in to spend the holidays with the Langslows, or more truthfully, to help investigate yet another murder. The dialogue and banter is so sharp and witty that one never doubts that Meg will be clever enough to solve the murder, nor that she will succeed in finding the murderer before the holidays can be ruined. The love of animals, advocacy for wildlife preservation, and affection for Meg’s eccentric family always shine through in these series, and here it has the added appeal of Christmas and New Year’s celebrations. Spending the holidays with Meg, Yorkie Spike, and her chaotic family is a holiday tradition that should be shared by mystery readers as they revel in the exploits of the fictional town of Caerphilly.
To enter to win a copy of The Twelve Jays of Christmas, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “twelve,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen December 18, 2021. U.S. residents only, and you must be 18 or older to enter. If you are entering via email please include you mailing address in case you win, it will be deleted after the contest. You can read our privacy statement here if you like. BE AWARE THAT IT WILL TAKE MUCH LONGER THAN USUAL FOR WINNERS TO GET THEIR BOOKS DUE TO THE CURRENT CRISIS.
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