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Lord of the Wings (Meg Langslow Series #19)
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Lord of the Wings (Meg Langslow Series #19)

4.8 6
by Donna Andrews
 

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As only Meg Langslow knows, when it comes to crime-solving, sometimes you just have to
wing it.

Halloween has come to Caerphilly! And with it comes a series of ghosts, witches, zombies, superheroes, and other creatures flying about. As part of the town’s Goblin Patrol, it’s Meg’s job to assist the police if the town’s

Overview

As only Meg Langslow knows, when it comes to crime-solving, sometimes you just have to
wing it.

Halloween has come to Caerphilly! And with it comes a series of ghosts, witches, zombies, superheroes, and other creatures flying about. As part of the town’s Goblin Patrol, it’s Meg’s job to assist the police if the town’s spooky festivities spin out of control. Which is exactly what happens when a dead body turns up in the woods. Soon it’s up to Meg and her fellow goblins to keep calm, carry on with all the costumed revelers, and unmask a criminal who is hiding in plain sight. Will she solve the crime before the town’s creepy Halloween scavenger hunt ends--or will the killer take flight and vanish into the night sky?

“With Lord of the Wings, Donna Andrews has crafted a holiday-themed cozy...you can revel in the pageantry and solve a cleverly plotted mystery.”—Criminal Element
“[This] series gets better all the time.” —Booklist

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
06/22/2015
In Andrews’s endearing 19th Meg Langslow mystery (after 2014’s The Nightingale Before Christmas), the residents of Caerphilly, Va., go all out to celebrate Halloween by turning their little town into Spooky City. When a man who was playing pranks, or perhaps participating in a scavenger hunt that required scaring somebody with a fake body part, turns up dead at the local zoo run by Meg’s grandfather, Dr. Montgomery Blake, she enlists the aid of Mutant Wizards—the game development company of her brother, Rob—in ferreting out the culprit. But when the Haunted House, the home of a former medical examiner who apparently wants to be a vampire, is the site of burglary and arson, and Mayor Randall Shiffley’s assistant, Lydia Van Meter, vanishes, the search for answers becomes even murkier. As head of festival security, the Goblin Patrol, Meg is in the thick of things in a cozy sure to delight series fans and newcomers alike. Agent: Ellen Geiger, Frances Goldin Literary Agency. (Aug.)
Library Journal
08/01/2015
It's Halloween in Caerphilly, VA, and Meg's zany family is at it again. Grandpa opens a "Creatures of the Night" exhibit at the zoo, but then a body surfaces and a suspicious fire at the haunted house has everyone in jitters. Someone definitely wants to mar the town's creepy fun, so it's up to Meg to save the festivities. This 19th series entry (after The Nightingale Before Christmas) is another winner.
From the Publisher

“Produces at least one chuckle--and sometimes a guffaw--per page. Joy to the world, indeed.” —Richmond Times-Dispatch on Six Geese A-Slaying

“Andrews . . . scores points for her witty writing and abundance of Yuletide tinsel and tradition.” —The Columbia, SC State on Six Geese A-Slaying

“Firmly in the grand tradition of Agatha Christie's Christmas books.” —Toronto Globe and Mail on Six Geese A-Slaying

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781250049582
Publisher:
St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
08/04/2015
Series:
Meg Langslow Series , #19
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
1,191,298
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.20(d)

Read an Excerpt

Lord of the Wings

A Meg Langslow Mystery


By Donna Andrews

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2015 Donna Andrews
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-250-04958-2


CHAPTER 1

"Someone's broken into the Haunted House!"

My cell phone almost vibrated from the excitement in my brother's voice.

"Calm down, Rob," I said. I wanted to add, "And what are you doing awake before eight a.m.?" but I suspected he would take it as a slur on his character. I punched the speaker button, set my phone on the kitchen table, and went back to painting a goatee on my son Josh's chin.

"But, Meg, the Haunted House —"

"Was anything taken?" I asked. "Or broken?"

"Not that we can tell," Rob said. "But Dr. Smoot is upset."

"That's his normal state of mind these days," I said. Then I winced, hoping the proprietor of the Haunted House wasn't close enough to Rob's phone to hear me.

"If you can call anything about Smoot normal." Okay, even Rob wouldn't have said that in front of the man. "But definitely more upset than usual. The closer we get to Halloween, the more hyper he gets."

Josh lifted up his piratical eye patch, twisted to look at his reflection in the shiny chrome side of the toaster, and frowned.

"I want to be more hairier," he said.

"Just hairier," I corrected. "I'm working on it. Did you report it to the police?" I added to Rob.

"Not yet," Rob said. "Dr. Smoot says Chief Burke never takes him seriously."

Dr. Smoot was probably right. Of course, it didn't help that while he was still serving as Caerphilly County's medical examiner, Dr. Smoot had taken to dressing as a vampire, complete with a long black cape and fake fangs, and collecting vampire-related paraphernalia. Chief Burke had been vastly relieved when Dr. Smoot had resigned his post to pursue this strange new hobby full time, complete with travels to such vampire meccas as Transylvania and New Orleans. The chief probably wasn't thrilled to have Dr. Smoot not only back in town but also running the Haunted House that played a central role in the town's ongoing Halloween Festival.

"Never mind their past history," I said. "If there's any real evidence of a burglary, Chief Burke will want to investigate. In fact, he'll be pretty ticked off if he finds out you didn't call him right away."

"Dr. Smoot says since nothing was actually taken, he thought it was okay to call the Goblin Patrol instead."

"Rob," I began.

"Sorry," Rob said. "The Visitor Relations and Police Liaison Patrol. I still think Goblin Patrol's catchier. I'll call the chief. But Dr. Smoot's upset — he really wants to talk to you."

"I'm putting the boys into their costumes for school," I said. "And then Michael and I are going along as chaperones for today's school field trip to the zoo. And —"

"Great," Rob said. "The Haunted House is right on your way. You could just drop in for a few minutes —"

"After the field trip," I said. "Or if more than enough parents come to wrangle the kids, I might be able to break away once we've delivered our carload to the zoo. Call the police, and tell Dr. Smoot I'll be there as soon as I can."

"Roger," Rob said.

"Uncle Rob," Josh said. "I'm a pirate today."

"A pirate?" Rob echoed. "I thought you were a cowboy."

"A cowboy? Yuck. That was yesterday."

"Today he's a pirate," I said. "I've been trying to explain to the boys that when their teacher said they could wear costumes every day this week, it didn't mean a different costume every day."

"But it's more fun this way," Josh protested.

"Absolutely!" Rob said. "Goblin Patrol, over and out."

"Rob," I began, but he'd already hung up. "Josh, can you punch the button to turn off my phone? My hands are full."

He obliged, then turned back to me and lifted his chin as if silently demanding that I add another layer of painted beard.

"Mommy — look!" I turned to see Jamie, Josh's twin. "See my new costume! Isn't it cool?"

"Very cool!" I stopped myself before asking, "But what is it?" and studied his outfit for clues. Like most first graders, he had only rudimentary costume-making skills, so at first glance, his new outfit looked exactly like Monday's dog costume, Tuesday's raccoon, and Wednesday's penguin. They all used as a base the same set of faded beige footed pajamas. Today he'd stuck tufts of fur rather than feathers to the flannel, so I deduced that he was a mammal rather than a bird. The catlike whiskers stuck on his cheeks with Scotch tape didn't help much, but then I noticed that the rope he'd tied around his waist, leaving one end trailing six or seven feet behind him, now bore a tuft of fur at the tip.

"So you're going as a lion today?" I guessed.

Jamie beamed.

"Look, Josh," he said. "Rowrrrr!"

Josh was studying himself again in the toaster.

"I guess it's okay," he said. "But I want a really cool costume for the real Halloween on Saturday."

"Josh," I said. "That's only two days away. I'm not sure we have time to make another costume. Can't you just go as a pirate or a cowboy or a space alien or a wizard? We can make some improvements to whichever one you choose."

"I want to be a robot," Josh said.

It could be worse, I decided. I could easily make him a robot suit with some cardboard boxes and tin foil.

"But not one of those lame robot costumes like Victor's mother made him out of cardboard boxes and tin foil," Josh said. "A real robot costume. It should be metal. And the eyes should light up when I get mad. And you should be able to open up my chest to see my motor."

"I'll think about it," I said. "No promises," I added. "You know I'm pretty busy with the Halloween Festival."

"But I really want to be a robot!"

"No whining!" I exclaimed.

Josh recognized the wisdom of shutting up, and shifted tactics. He sighed and donned a look of patient, wistful longing — rather like Oliver Twist holding up the empty gruel bowl.

Maybe Michael could enlist some help in making a robot costume. An extra-credit project for a couple of his drama department students with prop and costume shop experience. I could ask him.

And come to think of it, maybe Michael could drive the boys to school, pick up the other two kids we were supposed to transport, and take them to the zoo. Then I could drop by to soothe Dr. Smoot and still meet them there in time for the tour.

"Where's your daddy?" I asked the boys.

"In the backyard, chasing the llamas," Jamie said.

"Why is he chasing the llamas?" I asked. "Are they loose?"

Jamie shook his head.

"Then why —"

"Who's ready for waffles?" my cousin Rose Noire called out, as she sailed in, already dressed in her costume for the day, as Glinda, the Good Witch.

"Yay!" Jamie exclaimed.

"Blueberry waffles?" Josh asked.

"Organic blueberry waffles," Rose Noire said. "With artisanal maple syrup."

The boys sat down and looked expectant. On mornings like this, I was profoundly grateful that Rose Noire still showed no signs of moving out of the third floor spare bedroom she'd occupied since before the boys were born.

I strolled outside to see why Michael was chasing the llamas.

Actually, he wasn't so much chasing them as being followed by them. He was jogging briskly around the perimeter of their pasture and the llamas, ever curious about human eccentricities, were loping along behind him.

I leaned over the fence and watched until he drew near, then climbed over the top rail and fell into step beside him.

"What's up?" I asked.

"An actor's body is his instrument," he puffed.

"That's nice," I said. "What does that have to do with your taking up jogging?" Then enlightenment struck. "You tried on your wizard costume last night, didn't you?" I asked.

Michael frowned and nodded.

"Too tight?"

"Not too tight," he said. "But a little tighter than it used to be. Tighter than it should be."

Not surprising, since it had been a few years since Michael had donned the costume he'd once worn to play the evil wizard Mephisto on Porfiria, Queen of the Jungle, a long-canceled cult TV fantasy show. In fact, although die-hard fans kept inviting him to Porfiria fan conventions, he hadn't gone since before the twins were born, and they were six now.

"I could let your costume out a little," I suggested.

"No," he said, and picked up his pace a little. "I need to get down to my proper weight. An actor's body is his instrument."

"Okay," I said. "Carry on tuning your instrument. I'll figure out something healthy and low calorie for dinner."

"Thanks," he said. "And keep all that damned Halloween candy away from me."

"Roger," I said. "By the way, can you take the boys to school and pick up the other two kids we're taking to the field trip? I can meet you at the zoo — I have an errand I should run on my way."

"Goblin Patrol business?"

"Something like that." As I explained about Dr. Smoot, I considered whether I should stop fighting this Goblin Patrol thing. It was certainly catchier than Visitor Relations and Police Liaison Patrol. "If I hurry," I concluded, "I can deal with Smoot and still make the zoo tour."

"I don't envy you," he said. "And yes, I can take the boys."

We'd done nearly a complete circuit of the pasture now, so I decided I'd jogged enough.

"I'm going to peel off now and get ready for my busy day," I said.

"Not as busy as it would have been if Randall Shiffley hadn't hired Lydia," Michael called over his shoulder.

I made a noncommittal noise and headed back to the kitchen.

Yes, if Randall hadn't hired Lydia Van Meter to the newly created post of Special Assistant to the Mayor, I would probably have been running the whole of Caerphilly's ten-day Halloween Festival instead of merely heading up the Goblin Patrol. I definitely preferred my more limited role.

But that didn't mean I had to like Lydia.

Just thinking about her soured my mood. And it wasn't because she was doing a terrible job at organizing the Halloween Festival. Considering that it was her first major project, she was doing okay. Not perfectly — certainly not the way I'd have done it — but things were lurching along, and she was learning. She'd probably have an easier time with the much bigger Christmas in Caerphilly event that would start right after Thanksgiving, because we'd been doing that for several years now, and Randall and I had done a pretty good job of setting up procedures and training the townspeople in them. By summer, when it was time for the Un-Fair, the statewide agricultural exposition Caerphilly hosted every year, she should be in fine shape — again, thanks to all the ground work Randall and I had done on past Un-Fairs.

Since, in the long run, she was going to make my life easier, it was probably ungracious of me to dislike her. Maybe I was the only one who minded her constant griping about how hard she was working and how impossible the job was. I couldn't count the times I'd had to bite my tongue to keep from saying, "You think you've got it bad — I used to do all that and more, as a volunteer." And was it just my imagination, or was she developing an annoying tendency to ask me how I would handle something and then do exactly the opposite?

"Chill," I muttered. After all, Lydia was making it possible for me to spend more time with Michael and the boys, doing things like today's field trip to the Caerphilly Zoo.

And accompanying the boys to the zoo was definitely important, and not just because I wanted to see their reaction to the brand new Creatures of the Night exhibit. As the zoo's proud owner, my grandfather was planning on conducting the tour himself, and I knew better than to expect common sense from him. What if he gave in to some first grader's pleas to be allowed to pet the arctic wolves? Or began explaining the curious mating habits of the greater short-nosed fruit bat, as he had a few weeks ago when giving a preview tour to the Baptist Ladies' Altar Guild?

I ran upstairs to throw on the last few bits of my costume — a modified version of the red satin and black leather swordswoman's outfit I wore whenever I exhibited my blacksmithing work at a Renaissance festival. I added the festive black-and-orange armband that marked me as a member of the Goblin Patrol and headed for town.

The first few miles of my journey lay through farmlands — pastures dotted with grazing cows or sheep, fields filled with late crops or post-harvest stubble, and orchards picked clean of all but the latest fruits. Closer to town, I began to see Halloween and harvest decorations on the gates and fences. I particularly admired the farmer who'd used a collection of scarecrows to simulate a zombie attack on his cow pasture. The contrast between the bloodstained shambling figures clawing at the outside of the fence and the Guernsey cows calmly chewing their cuds inside never failed to amuse me.

I was nearing town when my phone rang. Lydia. I considered letting it go to voice mail. Then I sighed, and pulled over to answer it. She was probably calling about something she considered important. Her definition of important rarely coincided with mine, but I'd already figured out that the best way to keep her calm and off my back was to talk to her. She seemed to resent having to leave a voice mail.

"Thank goodness I caught you!" she exclaimed as soon as I answered. "Can you drop by to see me as soon as possible? Something important's come up. Festival business! Thanks!"

"I'm already on my way to take care of festival business," I began. But before I could make the case for discussing whatever had come up over the phone instead of face to face, I realized she'd hung up.

"Damn the woman," I muttered as I punched the button to call her back. But her phone line was already busy.

So I muttered a few words I didn't usually let myself say (for fear the boys would pick them up) and pulled out onto the road again. Dr. Smoot's burglar would have to wait while I tackled whatever crisis Lydia had to offer.

CHAPTER 2

Even Lydia couldn't spoil my enjoyment of the Halloween scenery. Closer to town the farmlands gave way to houses whose yards almost universally contained some kind of decoration. Strings of orange pumpkin- or skeleton-shaped lights festooned at least half of the fences. Most of the steps bore jack-o'-lanterns. Some yards contained miniature graveyards, with or without skeletons or vampires digging their way out of the earth, and I lost count of the number of witches that appeared to have slammed into trees.

In the outskirts of town I passed by the left turn onto the Clay County road that would have taken me to Dr. Smoot's Haunted House and then on to the zoo. Instead I continued on toward the town square.

The official town decorations, though attractive, were somewhat more sedate, reflecting a harvest theme rather than a Halloween one. The streetlights had been enclosed in plastic covers to make them look like pumpkins — just pumpkins, not jack-o'-lanterns. Graceful black, brown, and orange garlands hung between the lampposts, and all the trash cans and benches and other public fixtures were festooned with gourds and sheaves of dried grass and flowers. "It's the Caerphilly Garden Club," Randall Shiffley had said in a slightly apologetic tone when he showed me the design. "They always like to err on the side of good taste, and I don't think most of them really like Halloween all that much."

They probably didn't — but they were clearly in the minority. Most of the shops and houses contained enough jack-o'-lanterns, faux skeletons, black cat window decals, bat garlands, and rubber rats to make up for any excess of good taste on the part of the Garden Club.

It was early enough that I had no trouble finding a parking spot near the courthouse. As I climbed the long marble steps up to the front portico, I could see that the two small groups of protesters were already on duty. I turned to study them for a moment. To the right were a small group of people who objected to our Halloween Festival on the grounds that it was a godless pagan holiday that a respectable town shouldn't be celebrating. To the left was a group of about the same number of devout pagans who were protesting our commercialization of what was for them an important religious holiday and our use of decorations that perpetuated society's negative stereotype of witches.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Lord of the Wings by Donna Andrews. Copyright © 2015 Donna Andrews. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

DONNA ANDREWS is the author of the Meg Langslow mysteries, including Stork Raving Mad and Swan for the Money. She won the Agatha, Anthony, and Barry Awards, a Romantic Times Award for best first novel, and three 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.

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Lord of the Wings 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Another fun mystery by Donna Andrews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
cjmaine More than 1 year ago
Love all her books, have read the series and enjoyed each one.
Carstairs38 More than 1 year ago
I’m Raven about Meg’s Latest Adventure I love Donna Andrews’s books, so I bought Lord of the Wings and started reading it without even bothering to find out what it was about. I quickly figured out the book was set a few days before Halloween, and I thought about putting it down and saving it for October. But I could never wait that long and devoured it right away. The town of Caerphilly has decided to throw a giant Halloween festival this year in an effort to bring more money to their small economy. Meg Langslow isn’t in charge of it – that has fallen to the Lydia, the new hire in town responsible for all the festivities they put on over the course of a year. Meg is just in charge of the Goblin Patrol, the group of volunteers who are helping with security for the wide spread event. However, a few days before Halloween, things obviously begin to go haywire. Someone breaks into the town’s haunted house. While Meg is chaperoning a trip to the zoo with her twins, a fake foot is found in with the alligators. And a dead body is found behind the zoo. With so much happening, can Meg make sense of anything before the craziness of the holiday really hits? This is a wide ranging plot with several very diverse elements. I loved that because it kept me quite confused as to where the story was really going. And between everything Meg was juggling, the pace never slowed down. I was turning pages as quickly as I could until I reached the logical climax. The series has introduced us to a large cast of characters, which is no surprise for a series that’s been running this long. The series regulars are all present and accounted for, and it was fun to see them again. We actually got to see more of Meg’s brother Rob and his computer company, Mutant Wizard, in this book than is often the case, and I enjoyed that. Of course, my favorite characters are still Meg’s twins, who steal many a scene in this book. There are a nice group of suspects as well who are well developed and help keep us from guessing the ending too soon. I found all the Halloween revelers to be quite amusing and had to laugh as some of their antics over the course of the book. Couple that with Meg’s crazy family and the twins, and you’ll be smiling and laughing as the pages fly by. About my only disappointment is that a potential new series character introduced a couple of books ago is once again only referenced in passing. I guess I need to let my hope that we’d see more of this person go. Other characters who were in earlier books of the series have dropped by the wayside as others have taken their place. I guess that will be the case here as well. It just seems a waste since there is much character growth potential in the series regulars that could be explored here. And, trust me, this is a minor complaint. I enjoyed spending time with Meg and her family again. Lord of the Wings was over all too soon, and I am already looking forward to my next visit.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
To who ever wanted se.x
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Walks in