Tag Archives: Donna Andrews

My Musing ~ How the Finch Stole Christmas! by Donna Andrew

How the Finch Stole Christmas! by Donna Andrews is the 22nd book in the “Meg Langslow” mystery series. Publisher: Minotaur, coming October 24, 2017

Meg’s husband has decided to escalate his one-man show of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol into a full-scale production with a large cast including their sons Jamie and Josh as Tiny Tim and young Scrooge and Meg helping as stage manager.

The show must go on, even if the famous―though slightly over-the-hill―actor who’s come to town to play the starring role of Scrooge has brought a sleigh-load of baggage and enemies with him. And why is Caerphilly suddenly overrun with a surplus of beautiful caged finches?

How the Finch Stole Christmas! is guaranteed to put the “ho ho hos” into the holidays of cozy lovers everywhere with its gut-bustingly funny mystery.

Meg takes center stage along with a quirky cast of characters, that includes a washed-out-drunken-past-his-prime actor, in this delightfully charming tale that spans the Christmas season of the annual production of a holiday show as well as murder and mayhem. Thanks to the author’s visually descriptive narrative and play-by-play action, this fast-paced drama had me devouring every page as I had to know what happens next. What we have is an overabundance of animals that cast their light on the story being told with smugglers and murder. What prevails is a fantastic story where every time I thought I had a handle of the person responsible, the author changes direction with sneaky twists and turns that enhances the telling of this tale. Donna continues to keep me engaged and entertained in the latest adventures of Meg and her friends and family in the town of Caerphilly, Virginia.

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FTC Full Disclosure – I received a digital ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.

My Musing ~ Die Like an Eagle by Donna Andrews

Die Like an Eagle by Donna Andrews is the 20th book in the “Meg Langslow” mystery series. Publisher: Minotaur Books, August 2016

Die Like An EagleMeg is Team Mom and Michael is coach of their twin sons’ youth baseball team, the Caerphilly Eagles. Meg tangles with Biff Brown, the petty, vindictive league head. On opening day, Biff’s lookalike brother is found dead in the porta-potty at the ball field. So many people think Biff’s scum that it would be easy to blame him, but he has an alibi–and Meg suspects he may actually have been the intended victim.

With Die Like an Eagle, readers can look forward to another zany Meg Langslow mystery–this one filled with the spirit of America’s pastime and Donna’s eagle eye.

Like Meg Langslow, the blacksmith heroine of her series, Donna Andrews was born and raised in Yorktown, Virginia. She introduced Meg to readers in her Malice Domestic Contest-winning first mystery, Murder with Peacocks, and readers are still laughing. This novel swept up the Agatha, Anthony, Barry, and a Romantic Times award for best first novel, and a Lefty for funniest mystery.

I don’t know how Donna does it, but she always delivers a wonderfully-crafted whodunit with a catchy avian title that factors in the theme of her stories. In this one, the favorite pastime of baseball takes center stage as once again, Meg finds another body and it’s these jovial jaunts that bring humor to how this all plays out in the end. Once Meg and her family get involved, the antics are hilarious and intertwined with the solving of the murder creating a well-balanced drama.

The author did a great job in providing us a field of suspects and it was fun watching it all play out until there was only one person left on base. I love how all the characters play pivotal roles that enhances the telling of this tale where the narrative is superbly done and the dialogue is engagingly snappy. The part that put a big grin on my face was the ending with Meg and her boys. A great read and I look forward to more adventures with Meg and her eccentrically quirky family.

Meg Langslow and Delicate Social Situation by Donna Andrews

Die Like An Eagle“Meg, dear, could you write a note to your cousin Evangelina? I’m afraid my sprained wrist is still rather bothersome.”

“What am I supposed to say to her?” I asked, as I picked up the pen and notepaper Mother was holding out.

Dear Evangelina,” she began. “Thank you for your lovely note.

“That’s not writing a note,” I grumbled. “That’s taking dictation.”

“Yes, dear. Meg and Michael would be delighted to have you visit for Opening Day.

“No, we wouldn’t,” I said, looking up from the note. “We’re already full to the rafters with people coming to see the boys play their first baseball game. We’re even out of sleeping bag spaces in the barn.”

We’ve already made a reservation for you at the Caerphilly Inn,” Mother went on.

“No, we haven’t.” Mother gave me a reproachful look. “Until just now, I had no idea Cousin Evangelina was coming. Unless—did you already make it?”

“Of course, dear. But now we have to figure out a reason for putting her there instead of having her either at your house or up at the cottage with your father and me. You know how easily insulted she is.”

“Hmm.” I started to chew on the end of the pen and remembered, just in time, that doing so was like fingernails on a blackboard to Mother. “I have it. Normally either we or Meg and Michael could put you up, but with so many people in both households so busy preparing for the upcoming bagpipe competition, I think you’ll find it much more restful at the Inn.”

“Oh, excellent.” Mother beamed at me. “You’re developing quite a knack for smoothing over delicate social situations.”

“It’s called lying,” I said.

“There isn’t really a bagpipe competition, is there?” Mother asked.

“Not that I know of,” I said. “But if Evangelina grows suspicious, I’m sure we can get Dad and Rob to march around with the bagpipes Dad brought back from the Highland Games. They’d like that—especially if it means not having her underfoot.”

“I hope it doesn’t come to that,” she said. “Because frankly, I find the notion that either of them has bagpipes in his possession . . . disquieting. Can’t you arrange for those hideous things to disappear?”

“I’ll put it on my agenda,” I said. “But not till after opening day. Anything else we need to tell Evangelina?”

I’m sure you’ll be impressed with how well Josh and Jamie pitch and bat,” she went on.

“No, she won’t,” I said. “They’re only eight, and in coach-pitch. They won’t be pitching—Michael will.”

“Well, then she’ll be impressed with how earnestly and attentively they stand around awaiting the occasional arrival of a ball in their general vicinity,” Mother said. “That’s a thing in baseball, isn’t it?”

“It’s called fielding,” I said. “I’m sure you’ll be impressed with how well Josh and Jamie bat and field. Anything else?”

Mother pursed her lips and looked uncomfortable. I waited.

“I think we need to warn her about the sanitary conditions at the ball field,” she said finally.

“You mean the portapotties?” I asked. Mother shuddered delicately.

“Must we call them that?” she asked.

“We must if we want her to have any idea what we’re warning her about.”

Mother pondered for a few moments.

“How about this?” she said. “Please be aware that there is no running water at the field, and as a result the sanitary facilities are barbaric.

“I’m saying primitive, not barbaric,” I said as I wrote. “And I still think we should just tell her to beware of the portapotties. But it’s your note. How do you want me to close? Fondly? Affectionately yours? Because I need to start getting the boys ready for their practice. You have no idea how much time it takes to round up all their gear—hats, gloves, bats, cleats, batting helmets, athletic cups—“

Mother winced at the last item.

“Are cups really necessary for boys so young?” Mother asked.

“I’ll have you know they’re vastly proud of those cups,” I said. “Shall we warn Evangelina to look impressed when they take them out and show them to her?”

“Oh, dear,” Mother said. “Perhaps I should discourage her from coming. Her heart’s not what it used to be.”

“Relax,” I said. “The novelty will have worn off by Opening Day. I’m sure as long as Evangelina remembers to use the bathroom before coming to the field, she’ll be fine. It’s going to be a lovely, long weekend of baseball and family bonding. What could possibly go wrong?”

Find out the answer in Die Like an Eagle, the newest Meg Langslow mystery from Donna Andrews.

Die Like an Eagle is the 20th book in the Meg Langslow mystery series, published by Minotaur, August 2016.

The brilliantly funny Donna Andrews delivers another winner in the acclaimed avian-themed series that mystery readers have come to love. The nineteenth book in her New York Times best-selling series continues to surprise and delight in this next knee-slapping adventure featuring Meg Langslow and all the eccentric characters that make up her world.

Meg is Team Mom and Michael is coach of their twin sons’ youth baseball team, the Caerphilly Eagles. Meg tangles with Biff Brown, the petty, vindictive league head. On opening day, Biff’s lookalike brother is found dead in the porta-potty at the ball field. So many people think Biff’s scum that it would be easy to blame him, but he has an alibi–and Meg suspects he may actually have been the intended victim.

With Die Like an Eagle, readers can look forward to another zany Meg Langslow mystery–this one filled with the spirit of America’s pastime and Donna’s eagle eye.

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About the author
Donna Andrews was born in Yorktown, Virginia and now lives in Reston, Virginia. Die Like an Eagle (August 2016) is the twentieth book in her Agatha, Anthony, and Lefty winning Meg Langslow series, to be followed by Gone Gull in 2017. She’s currently serving as the Executive Vice President of Mystery Writers of America and is active in Sisters in Crime. She blogs with the Femmes Fatales. For more information check out her website at donnaandrews.com.

All comments are welcomed.

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a print copy of Die Like an Eagle. US entries only, please. The giveaway will end August 24, 2016 at 12 AM (midnight) EST. Good luck everyone!

Mayor Shiffley and the Halloween Memo by Donna Andrews

Lord of the Wings“Meg, you were right.”

I looked up to see Randall Shiffley standing in the barn doorway. He was wearing a suit but his snazzy black and orange pumpkin tie was loosened, suggesting that he was relaxing after hard day of “mayoring.”

“I often am,” I said. “What am I right about today?”

“About that memo to the town about stuff they should and shouldn’t do during the Halloween festival,” he said. “I thought sane, rational human beings could figure out that stuff on their own, but that’s not what we’re blessed with in Caerphilly. Can I run my draft by you?”

“Sure,” I said.

“This won’t take long.” He took the same pose he’d use if addressing a public meeting, unfolded a paper he held in his hand, and began.

“Citizens of Caerphilly, past and present!”

I chuckled at that.

“Too corny?” he said, in his normal tone.

“Just wondering how you’re getting the word out to the dead citizens,” I said.

“I could have it posted in all the graveyards,” he said. “Any of ’em who are actively haunting the living should see it, and those resting peacefully aren’t part of our problem. As we enter the final days of this year’s successful Halloween festival–”

“Do we know already that it’s successful?” I asked.

“Merchants are smiling,” he said. “Dog tired from ringing up all those sales to the tourists, but smiling. So yeah, it’s looking like a success—as long as we can prevent any of the disasters this memo is designed to address.”

“Carry on,’ I said.

“I would like to remind you of a few things that help keep our festival running smoothly. First, please remember that Halloween decorations displayed between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. must be family friendly. If your decorations involve excessive blood or violence, nudity or sexual themes, or anything not suitable for viewing by the small children who form a large portion of our visitors during the daylight hours, you must take them down or disguise them.”

“And who gets to decide what’s excessive?” I asked.

“I was getting to that. Members of the Goblin patrol will inspect all town decorations each morning and will be the absolute arbiters of what is acceptable.”

“Are you sure you want to call my troops the Goblin Patrol?” I said. “Remember, our official name is the Visitor Relations and Police Liaison Patrol.”

“Goblin Patrol’s catchier,” he said. “And slightly more menacing when it comes to the enforcement side of things. Moving on. Next item. Please remember that we have thousands of tourists visiting our beautiful town during the ten days of the festival. Unfortunately, the crowds will probably contain a few light-fingered individuals. Please make sure to keep your doors, windows, and gates locked during the festival, and if any of your decorations are expensive or have a strong sentimental value, please display them in your windows or on your screened porches, not out in the open where they could be stolen.”

“Are many people actually decorating with valuable stuff?” I asked.

“Mrs. Baker was setting up a skeleton tea party in her front yard.”

“That sounds nice.”

“Using some kind of antique black cups and saucers so fragile-looking I think they’d break if you breathed on them crossways.” Randall shook his head.

“Must be her grandmother’s black Wedgwood Jasperware tea set,” I said. “Probably not a good idea to leave that out in her yard.”

“I talked her into putting it all in her sunroom, but who knows how many other citizens are coming up with damn fool ideas like that,” he said. “Next item. School superintendent Olivia Shiffley has asked us to tell parents that while students are permitted to wear costumes to school on every day of the festival, they are not required to do so, nor are those wearing costumes required to have a different one for every day.”

“Fat chance convincing the kids of that last bit. Speaking of school—how many pages in that proclamation?

He stopped and counted.

“Only five.”

“Only five, he says; and you’re only halfway through page one. I need to pick up the boys soon. Hop in the Twinmobile with me—you can read me the rest on the way to town, and on the way back if necessary.”

“You’re on. Okay, next item.”

As Randall trailed after me to the driveway, rattling off instructions to the citizens about how not to set the town on fire with their pumpkins, I couldn’t help thinking that much as I loved Halloween, I’d be glad when it was safely behind us.

“You’re worrying again,” Randall said. “You’ve got that frowny face. Cheer up. We’re past the halfway mark. We’re in the home stretch. Sure, we’ve got a lot of little problems—which this proclamation will help fix. But what can possibly go all that wrong?”

“Don’t jinx it,” I muttered. “Please don’t jinx it.”

You can read more about Meg, Randall and the citizens of Caerphilly in Lord of the Wings, the 19th book in the “Meg Langslow” mystery series, published by Minotaur. The first book in the series is Murder with Peacocks.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 12 a.m. eastern on September 4 for the chance to win a print copy of Lord of the Wings. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only. Winner will be notified within 48 hours after giveaway closes and you will have three days to respond after being contacted or another winner will be selected.

About the author
Lord of the Wings is the nineteenth book in Donna Andrews’s award-winning, NYT-bestselling Meg Langslow series. Donna is currently serving as Executive Vice President of Mystery Writers of America, as Vice President of the Chesapeake Chapter of Sisters in Crime, and as author liaison for Malice Domestic. When not writing she reads, plays computer games, gardens with more enthusiasm than skill, and chauffeurs her nephews.

Visit Donna at www.donnaandrews.com, on Twitter and on Facebook

Meg Langslow’s Potential Houseguest by Donna Andrews

The Nightingale Before ChristmasMeg Langslow writes a letter to one of her cousins, with editorial comments from her husband, Michael

December 20

Dear Cousin Safflower,

Michael: Do you actually have a cousin named Safflower?

Meg: Now I do. She thought Susan was too commonplace.

Mother told me that you were thinking of coming for a visit at Christmas. Of course we’d love to have you–

Michael: Love to have her? Are you crazy? We already have more visitors than guest rooms. Tell her there’s no room at the inn. Tell her–

Of course we do have rather a lot of family already staying here, but I’m sure we can find room for one more. We’re all family, right? Aunt Ida says you’re welcome to bunk with her.

Michael: Isn’t Ida the one whose snores the boys mistook for another earthquake last night?

We’re pretty informal about meals at the moment, because Mother and I are spending so much time down at the Decorator Show House.

Michael: Won’t “informal about meals” imply that someone around here actually might have time to feed her this week?

I’m sure you’ll love the show house—we have twelve different designers, each doing a room in his or her own unique style.

Michael: She might love your mother’s room and a couple of the others, but I’m pretty sure she won’t like that bedroom that looks like something you’d find in the Addam’s Family’s house. And what about that dining room, with the forty-seven different flowered prints? Is that really supposed to be stylish?

Meg: No, Mother thinks it’s pretty tacky, too. But Caerphilly’s a small town. We only have so many decorators. We had to use the available talent.

Michael: Yeah, I guess that’s why you included that jerk Clay Spottiswoode. Why someone hasn’t throttled that man years ago is a mystery to me.

Mother is doing the Great Room, and I’m sure she’d love to have another pair of willing hands to help her finish everything that needs doing before we open. We’ve all been putting in twelve or fourteen hour days. By the way, how well do you sew?

Michael: Excellent! That should scare her off. And since she’s a cousin, I assume she knows about how much chance she’d have of escaping a work detail when your mother’s around.

Do let me know when you’re arriving. Dulles Airport is only two hours away, and while it’s unlikely that Michael and I will be able to meet your plane, luckily, one of the local chicken farmers drives his truck up just about every day to deliver eggs and live chickens to an organic market in Washington, and he’s always happy to swing by the airport for us.

Looking forward to seeing you soon!



You can read more about Meg and her illustrious family in The Nightingale Before Christmas, the 18th book in the “Meg Langslow” mystery series, published by Minotaur. The first book in the series is Murder with Peacocks.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 6 p.m. eastern on October 27 for the chance to win a copy of THE NIGHTINGALE BEFORE CHRISTMAS. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.

Meet the author
Donna Andrews is the author of twenty-two mystery novels, including eighteen in the Meg Langslow series from Minotaur. Her most recent books are The Good, the Bad, and the Emus (July 2014) and The Nightingale Before Christmas (October 2014). She blogs with the Femmes Fatales (http://femmesfatales.typepad.com), and when not writing she can probably be found in her garden, taking a picture of whatever flowers haven’t yet been eaten by the deer.

You can reach Donna at her website, on Twitter or on Facebook.

The Good, the Bad, and the Emus by Donna Andrews

The Good The Bad and the EmusThe Good, the Bad, and the Emus by Donna Andrews is the 17th book in the “Meg Langslow” mystery series. Publisher: Minotaur, July 2014

Life will never be the same for Meg Langslow after family secrets are revealed, introducing a whole new layer of intrigue in Donna Andrews’s beloved series.

Meg’s long-lost paternal grandfather, Dr. Blake, has hired Stanley Denton to find her grandmother Cordelia. Dr. Blake was reunited with his family when he saw Meg’s picture—she’s a dead ringer for Cordelia—and now Stanley has found a trail to his long-lost love in a small town less than an hour’s drive away. He convinces Meg to come with him to meet her, but unfortunately, the woman they meet is Cordelia’s cousin—Cordelia died several years ago, and the cousin suspects she was murdered by her long-time neighbor.

Stanley and Meg agree to help track down the killer and get justice for Cordelia. Grandfather even has perfect cover–he will come to stage a rescue of the feral emus and ostriches (escaped from an abandoned farm) that infest this town. He dashes off to organize the rescue—which will, of course, involve most of Meg’s family and friends in Caerphilly. But then, the evil neighbor is murdered, and not only Cordelia’s cousin but also the entire contingent of emu-rescuers, who have had conflict with the neighbor, are suspects. Only Meg and the cousin—who seems to share a lot of telling traits with Meg—can find the real killer and clear the air in The Good, the Bad, and the Emus, the newest beverage-spittingly funny installment in this uproarious series from the one-and-only Donna Andrews.

I really love this series and I’m so glad that there are hundreds, or maybe thousands of birds left for Donna to incorporate in this delightfully amusing saga that involves Meg and her eccentrically quirky family. I enjoyed every aspect of this light whodunit, from the comfortable tone, to the interaction between the characters, the feral emus, the mystery that pulled me along from the beginning and to the wonderful newly found relative who is as spunky as Meg. I always have a good time reading this series and I look forward to the next book in this fabulously terrific series.

The Great Feral Emu Roundup by Donna Andrews

The Good The Bad and the EmusOne of my favorite characters in the Meg Langslow series is her grandfather, Dr. J. Montgomery Blake, the eminent zoologist and environmentalist. Dr. Blake first entered Meg’s life in The Penguin Who Knew Too Much. While on a visit to Caerphilly, he saw a picture of Meg in the local paper and was stunned to realize that she was a dead ringer for his long-lost college girlfriend, Cordelia. And when his research revealed that Meg’s father was found as an infant in the fiction section of the very library where he used to meet Cordelia, Dr. Blake deduced—and a DNA test subsequently confirmed—that he and the Langslows were related. Dr. Blake has been a part of Meg’s life—and my books—ever since.

Here, Dr. Blake reveals a few details about what happens in The Good, the Bad, and the Emus.

Remarks by Dr. J. Montgomery Blake to the members of SPOOR (Society for the Preservation of Owls and Raptors)

[With editorial comments by Caroline Willner of the Willner Wildlife Sanctuary.]

Caroline—I’ve got to give a speech at that wretched SPOOR meeting. Can you take quick look at my draft—M

Monty—only if you actually pay attention to what I say this time—C

Fellow bird lovers.

Thank you for coming this evening. I think we can promise you a fascinating discussion on our recent rescue and rehoming of a large flock of Dromaius novaehollandiae

They’re not all ornithologists. Forget the Latin—just tell them it’s emus.

—better known as the emu. As I’m sure most of you know, emus are native to Australia, and at up to two meters in height, they are the largest extant species after their ratite relatives, Struthio camelus, the common ostrich.

Meters schmeters. Tell them the blasted things are well over six feet tall.

In other words, over six feet tall, while ostriches, which are native to Africa, can be up to eight feet. In the 1990s, farmers in the United States began commercially farming both ostriches and emus for the feathers, meat, eggs, leather, and in the case of the emu, the oil, which is reputed to have medicinal properties. However, ostrich and emu farming did not prove to be as profitable as anticipated, and over the last two decades the number of emu farms has dropped precipitously.

I recently learned of the existence of a large flock of feral emus in Riverton, Virginia–

You learned? How about giving Cordelia and Annabel some credit?

—thanks to a communication from two long-time residents of Riverton, Mrs. Cordelia Mason and Miss Annabel Lee. Apparently the owner of the nearby Biscuit Mountain Ostrich and Emu Ranch fell into financial difficulties and simply turned his birds loose. Some of them were reported to be surviving in the wild.

Reported? The ladies were feeding them for years.

We had no idea how well they were surviving. It was possible they were hanging on, but not thriving, in which case we needed to rescue them and rehome them in a place that could give them proper care. And if they were thriving, then we knew they were probably having a detrimental effect on the native ecosystem, in which case we needed to capture them and confine them in a place that would care for them without letting them damage the environment.

Now would be a good moment to mention who’s taking care of the birds, you know.

I am happy to say that the birds are now living at the Willner Wildlife Foundation, whose director, Caroline Willner, was instrumental in helping round them up.

That’s better.

As I’m sure you are aware, emus are taller than we are, with razor-sharp talons and a kick like a mule, and can reach speeds of thirty miles an hour, so this expedition was a little more difficult than, say, sheep herding. In fact, it proved to be an unusually dangerous project, not just because of the emus—

You’re not going to get into the murders, are you? Isn’t this supposed to be about the emus?

—but also because we once more encountered human foes more interested in commercial gain than in the emus or the environment.

Well, okay, but that’s probably enough about the creeps. They could still try to sue you, you know.

But we’re here to talk about the emus! So without further ado, let’s get to the video. Can somebody dim the lights? Anybody? Until somebody finds the light switch—

Don’t worry. Meg will take care of it.

[The lights dim.]

Now, in this first shot . . .

You can read more about Dr. Blake in The Good, the Bad, and the Emus, the 17th book in the “Meg Langslow” mystery series, published by Minotaur. The first book in the series is Murder with Peacocks.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 6 p.m. eastern on July 21 for the chance to win a copy of THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE EMUS. (US entries only, please.)

Meet the author
DonnaADonna Andrews is the author of seventeen (soon to be eighteen!) books in her Meg Langslow series from Minotaur. After The Good, the Bad, and the Emus (July 2014) comes The Nightingale Before Christmas (October 2014).

You can reach Donna at her website, on Twitter or on Facebook.

Follow dru’s book musing on Facebook for posting about discounted books, giveaways and some of my reading musings.

Duck The Halls by Donna Andrews

Duck The HallsDuck The Halls by Donna Andrews is the 16th book in the “Meg Langslow” mystery series. Publisher: Minotaur, October 2013

“Tis the season to be jolly – and for Meg Langslow to round up stray animals of all sorts as well as a killer. Duck the Halls!

The brilliantly funny Donna Andrews delivers boughs of holly and barrels of laughs with Meg’s latest adventure in her award-winning, New York Times bestselling series.

A few nights before Christmas, Meg is awakened when volunteer fireman Michael is summoned to the New Life Baptist Church, where someone has rigged a cage full of skunks in the choir loft. The lengthy process of de-skunking the church requires its annual pre-Christmas concert to relocate to Trinity Episcopal, where Mother insists the show must go on, despite the budget-related protests of Mr. Vess, an elderly vestryman. Meanwhile, when Meg helps her grandfather take the skunks to the zoo, they discover that his boa has been stolen – only to turn up later during the concert, slithering out from the ribbon-bedecked evergreens. The next morning is Sunday, and the congregation of St. Byblig’s, the local Catholic church, arrive to find it completely filled with several hundred ducks.

It’s clear that some serious holiday pranksters are on the loose, and Meg is determined to find them. But before she can, a fire breaks out at Trinity, and Mr. Vess is discovered dead. Who would have murdered such a harmless – if slightly cranky – old man? Who has the time during the busy holiday season to herd all of these animals into the town’s churches? And will Meg ever be able to finish all of her shopping, wrapping, cooking, caroling, and decorating in time for Christmas Eve? A Yuletide treasure for the ages, Duck the Halls is guaranteed to put the “ho ho hos” into readers’ holidays.

Someone is pulling pranks but it gets out of hand when the latest prank results in a death. Was it the pranksters or someone else using it to disguise their murderous act? To find out, you’ll have to read this hilariously entertaining whodunit that I could not put down until the killer was revealed. Meg and her eccentrically quirky family are back in this character-driven drama that leaves you wanting more. Donna does a wonderful job in crafting a delightfully engaging and well-written tome with a mystery that kept me guessing and comedic moments that was both enjoyable and fun. As apropos with Meg and her family, the ending was perfect. A terrific read and I can’t wait for the next book in this fabulous series.

The Christmas Letter by Donna Andrews

Duck The HallsFrom: Josh and Jamie Waterston
Caerphilly, Virginia

To: Santa Claus
The North Pole

Dear Santa,

This is Rob Langslow writing to you on behalf of my nephews, Joshua Blake Waterston (Josh) and James Langslow Waterston (Jamie). They both assure me that they have been very good this year. Except for the time they dyed Spike purple, and if they’d known how upset Mommy and Daddy would be they wouldn’t have done it, and they’re very sorry. And Spike didn’t mind. So they deserve to be on the “nice” list.

Josh and Jamie would very much like to have electric train sets. They want me to be sure and tell you that they don’t want just one train set, because if they only had one set they would have to share and they always get a lot of time outs when they have to share.

Josh would like to have a shark. Not a stuffed shark, a real one that he could put in the bathtub to eat Jamie when he is bad. If he can’t have a real one, a stuffed one would be okay as long as it is really big and has sharp teeth and can scare Jamie.

Jamie would like to have a Tyrannosaurus Rex to bite Josh if Josh puts his shark in Jamie’s bath, because Tyrannosaurus Rexes are much bigger and meaner than sharks and make bigger bites. And if he can’t have a real Tyrannosaurus Rex he would like a remote control one that makes scary noises and bites.

Josh would like his shark to be remote controlled too, and as big as a dinosaur and with sharper teeth.

Moving on.

Josh would like a ferret. He says you shouldn’t tell Mommy and Daddy about it before you bring it, because they’d only say no, but he’s positive that once they met the ferret they would really like it.

Jamie doesn’t need any pets for himself, but he thinks Mommy and Daddy would really like it if you brought them each a white mouse, or possibly a Russian winter white dwarf hamster. And he could help out by letting them put the cage in his room.

Jamie would like a bicycle. Not a tricycle, but a real big-kid bicycle.
With training wheels for now. Because he’s getting too big for a tricycle. Josh also thinks this is a good idea, and he wants a blue bike. Jamie says that’s not fair, because he asked first and he wants a blue bike. Josh says too bad, and you should bring Jamie a red one. Or Jamie could have a blue bike as long as it was a very different blue.

(Hey, guys—I have an idea. How about if I give you bikes for Christmas, and we could go together and pick them out and make sure they’re different from each other. Sound good?)

Okay. Sorry, Santa. Forget the bike request; we’ll be taking care of that locally.

Jamie and Josh would also like some more toy cars and trucks. Yes, even though they already have dozens. There’s so such thing as too many cars and trucks.

And they would like lots of candy in their stockings, and please remember that Josh likes dark chocolate and Jamie likes milk chocolate and even Mommy won’t eat white chocolate.

Josh and Jamie join me in hoping you and Mrs. Claus and the elves had a very nice year and didn’t have to work too hard. They send love to Rudolph and all the other reindeer.

(and their uncle Rob)

You can read more about the Langslow family in Duck The Halls, the 16th book in the “Meg Langslow” mystery series, published by Minotaur. The first book in the series is Murder with Peacocks. Books are available at retail and online booksellers.

Donna is giving away one (1) copy of DUCK THE HALLS. Leave a comment to be included in the giveaway. Contest ends October 26; US entries only.

Meet the author
Donna Andrews is the author of sixteen (soon to be seventeen!) books in her Meg Langslow series from Minotaur. After Duck the Halls (October 2013) comes The Good, The Bad, and the Emus (July 2014).

You can reach Donna at her website, on Twitter or on Facebook.