Six Geese A-Slaying (Meg Langslow Series #10)

( 43 )

Overview

Meg Langslow and Michael's house is serving as the marshaling point for the annual Caerphilly holiday parade. The theme is "The Twelve Days of Christmas," and it features twelve drummers from the school marching band, eleven bagpipers, ten leaping lords costumed in medieval finery from the college drama department, and so on. There are also assorted floats, a live nativity scene on a flatbed truck, the Three Wise Men on Caerphilly zoo camels, and Santa in a bright red horse-drawn sleigh. As organizer, Meg's job ...

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Six Geese A-Slaying (Meg Langslow Series #10)

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Overview

Meg Langslow and Michael's house is serving as the marshaling point for the annual Caerphilly holiday parade. The theme is "The Twelve Days of Christmas," and it features twelve drummers from the school marching band, eleven bagpipers, ten leaping lords costumed in medieval finery from the college drama department, and so on. There are also assorted floats, a live nativity scene on a flatbed truck, the Three Wise Men on Caerphilly zoo camels, and Santa in a bright red horse-drawn sleigh. As organizer, Meg's job is already hard enough. But when her nephew Eric, wide-eyed and ashen-faced, whispers, "something's wrong with Santa," things take a tragic turn. Turns out the local curmudgeon, whose beard and belly made him a natural for the role, has been murdered. Now it's up to Meg and Chief Burke, who is playing one of the wise men, to tackle a two-fold mission: Solving the murder and saving Christmas…

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Editorial Reviews

The Charlotte Observer

If you long for more 'fun' mysteries, à la Janet Evanovich, you'll love Donna Andrews's Meg Langslow series.
From the Publisher
“If you long for more ‘fun’ mysteries, à la Janet Evanovich, you’ll love Donna Andrews’s Meg Langslow series.”—The Charlotte Observer
Publishers Weekly

Bah, humbug! In the 10th entry in Andrews's fine-feathered cozy series (Cockatiels at Seven, etc.), Meg Langslow is having a tough enough time trying to organize the Christmas parade, with its Twelve Days of Christmas theme, in Caerphilly, Va. Then someone drives a stake through the heart of Santa, played by grouchy Ralph Doleson, who hates children and animals (and no, he's not a vampire). Finding the killer who could totally spoil Christmas becomes number one priority for perky amateur sleuth Meg. Suspects include protesting members of SPOOR (Stop Poisoning Our Owls and Raptors), six of whose members are playing geese in the parade, a local woman whom Doleson may have been blackmailing and a nosy Washington Tribune reporter. Though Andrews strains for humorous effect at times and the revelation of whodunit may strike some readers as far-fetched, fans will enjoy catching up with old friends among the regular cast of characters. (Nov.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

A dead Santa rains on Meg's Christmas parade.


—Rebecca Vnuk
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312536114
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 11/3/2009
  • Series: Meg Langslow Series, #10
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 335
  • Sales rank: 210,152
  • Product dimensions: 4.20 (w) x 6.70 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Donna Andrews

Donna Andrews is the author of the Meg Langslow mysteries, including Stork Raving Mad and Swan for the Money. She has won the Agatha, Anthony, and Barry awards, a Romantic Times award for best first novel, and two Lefty and two Toby Bromberg Awards for funniest mystery. When not writing fiction, Andrews is a self-confessed nerd, rarely found away from her computer, unless she's messing in the garden. She lives in Reston, Virginia.

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Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE

December 23, 8:30 a.m.

“We wish you a merry Christmas

We wish you a merry Christmas

We wish you a merry Christmas

And a happy New—”

“Bah, humbug,” I said.

Under my breath, of course. As Caerphilly County’s reigning Mistress of the Revels, I didn’t dare let anyone hear me badmouthing Christmas or showing less than the brightest of holiday spirits. I took a deep breath and straightened my holly wreath headdress before saying anything aloud.

“Could you please tell the drummers and pipers to stop drumming and piping immediately?” I fi nally said. Shouted, actually, to be heard above the din.

“They won’t like it, Meg,” my brother, Rob, shouted back. “They’re having a competition to see who can make the most noise.”

“I never would have guessed,” I muttered. But I kept smiling as I said it. And I reminded myself that muttering wasn’t particularly inconspicuous in weather so cold your breath smoked.

If only someone had warned me beforehand that “Mistress of the Revels” wasn’t an honorary title. It meant I was in charge of organiz ing Caerphilly’s annual holiday parade.

This year’s theme was “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” The twelve drummers drumming were represented by twelve members of the Caerphilly College fife and drum corps, while the pipers piping were eleven assorted bagpipers—currently playing in at least eleven different keys.

The drummers outnumbered the pipers, especially since they’d also brought along twelve matching fi fers. But the bagpipers seemed quite capable of holding their own in the noise department. They were definitely going to win if this turned into an endurance test. The drummers were already showing signs of fatigue, and the bagpipers hadn’t even hit their stride yet. And while “Silent Night” and “The Little Drummer Boy” are both lovely Christmas carols when played separately, they didn’t work well when played simultaneously by dueling groups of musicians.

None of which would have bothered me if they’d been doing it farther off—say, down in the cow pasture where they’d been asked to muster. Why did they insist on hovering right across the street from our house, all too near the spot in our front yard where I’d stationed myself, clipboard in hand, to check in the arriving parade participants?

“Go and tell them—” I began, and then stopped. Rob looked at me expectantly. He was quite dashing in one of the medieval costumes we’d borrowed from the Caerphilly College drama department. The blue brocade tunic matched his eyes, and unlike some of the volunteers, he was skinny enough to get away with wearing tights. As one of the ten lords a-leaping he was going to be a smashing success.

But as an enforcer, Rob would be a disaster. I knew what would happen if I sent him over to quell the riotous music. He’d ask them politely. They’d ignore him—if they even heard him. A little later, I’d go over to see why they hadn’t shut up and fi nd Rob taking bagpiping lessons or practicing his leaping in time with the fife and drums.

Some things you have to do yourself.

“Never mind,” I said, as I turned to head in the direction of the musical duel. “Go make sure none of the other leaping lords have hopped off anywhere. And can you check the Weather Channel and get the latest prediction on when the snow will start? I’m going to— damn!”

I’d stepped in something squishy. I remembered that the eight maids a-milking had recently strolled by, leading their eight purebred Holstein milk cows.

“Please tell me I didn’t just step in cow dung.”

“Okay, you didn’t just step in cow dung,” Rob said. “I’m pretty sure the cleanup crew has been by at least once since the cows came through here.”

“That’s a relief,” I said. Though I was energetically scraping my foot on the gravel anyway.

“So that’s almost certainly camel dung.”

As if that made a difference. I lost it, briefl y.

“Can’t those stupid wise men keep their beastly camels out of the road?” I snapped. Rob had turned to go and either didn’t hear me or pretended not to. It occurred to me that perhaps I shouldn’t be so harsh on the wise men, since Michael Waterston, my husband of six months, was one of them.

“Don’t blame the stupid wise men,” came a voice from behind me. “It was my fault.”

I turned around to see an enormous, bushy-bearded figure clad in a peculiar feathered garment. One of the six geese a-laying, I realized—I’d have recognized that immediately if he’d been wearing the goose head and had been waving wings instead of a pair of brawny arms covered with thick hair and a colorful collection of biker- and wildlife-themed tattoos. But never mind the incomplete costume—I was just glad to see its wearer.

“Clarence!” I said. “You made it!”

“Wouldn’t miss it for the world,” he said, giving me a bear hug.

“So this is one of the six geese a-laying?” said a nasal voice with a hint of a Southern drawl. I glanced over to see who was talking and saw a tall, cadaverously thin man in jeans and a faded brown parka. And he wasn’t just tall compared to my fi ve feet ten—he even looked tall standing beside Clarence, who was six and a half feet tall and almost as wide.

Brown parka was scribbling in a pocket notebook. Around his neck he wore a small silver digital camera and a lanyard with a laminated badge.

“You must be the reporter from The Washington Star- Tribune,” I said.

“Are you—” he paused to look into his notebook. “Meg Lansdowne? The parade organiz er?”

“Meg Langslow,” I corrected.

“J. Ainsley Werzel,” he said. He stuck out a hand and I shook it, somewhat awkwardly, since he was still holding the ballpoint pen in it.

“So, one of your geese, I presume?” he repeated. He stuck his pen behind his ear and grabbed his digital camera, apparently intent on getting a festive holiday shot of the ferrets inked up and down Clarence’s arms.

“And also one of our vets,” I said. “This is Dr. Clarence Rutledge. He’ll be helping look after the welfare of the many live animals appearing in today’s parade.”

I winced inwardly at how stilted I sounded, like something out of a press release from the town council. But better stilted than dimwitted.

Clarence shook the reporter’s hand with a great deal less caution than I had. He was so used to enduring the teeth and claws of his more recalcitrant patients that a mere ballpoint pen wound meant nothing to him. Werzel was the one who winced.

“Damn,” Werzel said, as he continued to gape at Clarence. “I wish my photographer would get here already. You haven’t seen him, have you—short guy with a big Nikon?”

I shook my head.

“Damn,” Werzel repeated. “He said ten minutes half an hour ago. Ah, well.”

He stood looking around with an odd expression on his face, as if tracking down the source of a bad smell. I checked my foot again. No, it was clean. And when I took a deep breath, the icy air held only the tantalizing odors of the coffee, cocoa, and spiced cider at a nearby refreshment stand. I could hear sleigh bells jingling in the distance, and strains of Christmas carols drifting from various parts of the yard. A brace of cousins hurried by pushing a cart loaded high with poinsettias, and several small children dressed as elves were handing out candy canes, courtesy of the Caerphilly Candy Shop. What could possibly be causing that sour face?

“Quaint,” Werzel pronounced.

“Quaint what?”

“Clearly that’s going to have to be my angle on this story. Quaint.”

He nodded as he said it, and a satisfi ed expression replaced the frown. He couldn’t have been here more than five minutes, the parade itself wouldn’t start for hours—and he’d already decided on his angle?

“Pity I can’t think of something more sexy,” he said, shaking his head.

Not that he’d tried.

“I’ve never really considered Christmas all that sexy,” I said aloud.

“It’s all a big conspiracy by the stores,” he said.

I hoped that wasn’t going to be the theme of his story. But then, I didn’t have high hopes about the story anyway. The Caerphilly Town Council members might have been thrilled when they heard that the Trib wanted to cover our event, but I was far more pessimistic about how much could go wrong today. Not to mention more cynical about how ridiculous an unsympathetic reporter could make us look if he wanted to.

And why was the Washington Star- Tribune sending a reporter to cover our parade, anyway? Caerphilly County and the town of Caerphilly were in rural Virginia, two hours south of Washington, D.C., and the Trib rarely mentioned their one claim to fame—the small but prestigious college where my husband taught in the drama department. Our parade drew good attendance each year, but mainly from the county itself and from nearby counties even more rural than we were. Why wasn’t Werzel covering more glamorous sights closer to home, like the national Christmas tree and whatever holiday parades and festivals the greater metropolitan Washington area had to offer? He could have written a clichéd story about our quaint country parade without leaving his desk. I was convinced Werzel had an ulterior motive— to make us look not only quaint but ridiculous. Unfortunately, if that was his plan, I couldn’t think of any way to stop him.

The ten lords a-leaping danced past, with Rob in the lead. They had all strapped sets of Morris dancing bells onto their shins, and their pro cession sounded like “Jingle Bells” on steroids. I couldn’t help smiling as they passed. Werzel didn’t even look their way.

“I mean, what’s so special about yet another Christmas parade?” he asked, when he could make himself heard again.

“Holiday parade,” I corrected. It was a refl ex by now. “We’ve decided to make this year’s parade as diverse and multicultural as possible.”

“That’s nice,” he said. “Of course, in a place like this, I guess multicultural means you’ve asked both the Baptists and the Episcopalians.”

He doubled over laughing at his own joke.

“Not exactly,” I said.

Just then a large, mud-spattered truck eased to a stop near me and an elderly woman wearing a large, jewel-trimmed turban stuck her head out of the passenger side window.

“So where do the elephants go?” she asked.

“Anywhere they want to,” I said. “But see if you can convince them they’d like to wait in the sheep pasture across the street.”

“No problem,” she said, as the driver eased the truck over in the direction I’d indicated.

“Elephants?” Werzel asked, looking slightly wide- eyed.

“For the Diwali part of the parade.”

“Diwali?”

“The Hindu festival of lights,” I said. “It’s their major winter holiday. Elephants are customary, I understand. Why don’t you go watch them unload?”

Werzel nodded and stumbled after the truck. I smiled. Maybe the elephants would save us from the quaint stereotype. And if not—well, we could live with quaint.

“Nothing like elephants for human interest, is there?” Clarence said.

“For some kind of interest,” I said. “I wouldn’t necessarily call it human, with just the elephants and this Werzel fellow involved. But with any luck, he’ll have so much fun photographing the elephants that he’ll be in too good a mood to be snide.”

“I should go over and check out the pachyderms,” he said. He sounded quite matter-of-fact—but in addition to being one of the town veterinarians, Clarence was the official veterinarian for the Caerphilly Zoo, so he had treated elephants before. “That reminds me—sorry about the camel dung, but one of them was limping, and I was taking him for a walk to check it out.”

“Please don’t tell me we have an injured camel,” I said, clutching my clipboard anxiously. “The zoo’s only got the three camels. It just won’t have the right effect at all if the wise men come riding in on two camels and a ten-speed bike.”

“Oh, don’t worry—” Clarence began.

“Meg, dear,” I heard my mother say.

Excerpted from Six Geese A-Slaying by Donna Andrews.

Copyright © 2008 by Donna Andrews.

Published in November 2009 by St. Martin's Press.

All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and

reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in

any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 43 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 45 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 6, 2008

    hilarious amateur sleuth tale

    With her husband Michael being up for tenure Meg Langslow has no choice except to put on the Caerphilly Christmas Parade becase someone who could help her spouse asks her. Meg always a trooper has all the people she needs to perform the ¿Twelve Days of Christmas¿. She hides her dissatisfaction of being stuck with the town¿s first choice for Santa Ralph Doleson, a mean miser who makes Silas Marner look like a deficit spending Congressman she believes he got the role because he can fill out the suit so the council need not waste money on alterations or a new costume.----------- To get him out of the way so the kids won¿t see him, she places Ralph in the pig¿s sled and forgets about him until her nephew Eric and his pal inform her something is wrong with Santa. Meg checks only to find Ralph dead with a stake through his heart like a bad vampire movie. Meg gets Chief Burke, who is one of the three Wise Men. There are plenty of suspects who wanted odious Ralph dead especially those outraged over Whispering Pines the low rent townhouses and the Spouse Attic where people lease space to place things they conceal from their families Between his two buildings Ralph has a good blackmail business going.. To save Christmas from the odious Grinch who was murdered, Burke and Meg investigate.------------- SIX GEESE A-SLAYING is a hilarious amateur sleuth tale as Meg struggles with putting on the parade, finding a new Santa who can wear the garb, and solving the homicide of the original Santa. The scenarios are so chaotic that Meg needs Lucille Ball to perform her role. Meg is at her best juggling several balls in the air although when some drop she just picks them up and tosses them again. Readers will adore her antics and this amusing tale summed up by the Nativity Scene on a flatbed truck.------------- Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2015

    Shade stayed for a bi

    T

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2015

    Reesha to shade

    Posted at house.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2015

    Shine

    She tried to shapeshift into fox. Atleast I'm still a Shapeshifter. She turned to human she was back to her dark brown eyes d hair. Will it happen again? She asked.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2015

    Storm

    "Chances are yes. Lets focus on getting you to ang though" picked her up and threw shine on her back. Turned into a horse and galloped back to camp

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 8, 2014

    Next to the tenor wore tap shoes series

    This is the funniest community christmas ever including the Bubba and series. How do these southern authors collect so many kissing kin miss maggie

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  • Posted June 14, 2013

    Another great entry in the Meg Langslow series!

    Lucky Meg, she's been named "Mistress of the Revels" and learns that means she' s in charge of Caerphilly annual holiday parade. Which includes geese, camels, elephants and a very unpopular Santa, who turns up dead shortly before the parade is to begin. A rollicking tale as Meg deals with protestors, a very pregnant "Mary", loads of family and, of course, uncovering the killer.

    Donna Andrews never fails to deliver and this is no exception.

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  • Posted December 28, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    a de-lite-ful Christmas Read

    Just what you need during the Christmas season.. Something light, fun and humorous.. Not so griping that you can not put it down, in order to decorate the house, wrap gifts, or go to holiday parties.. But simply a pleasure to find the time to curl back up to and relax and unwind with a nice well deserved stretch of quiet time..

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  • Posted December 26, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    Great Read

    I loved this book. It's only the second I've tried in the series, and I'm sure now to try more. Off the wall humor, "Look, it's the Goose of Christmas yet to come." and murder, interesting and well done plot. Full and entertaining characters. A thoroughly enjoyable mystery. If you're looking for a fun holiday read with a touch of murder and a gaggle of suspects, you'll love this one.

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  • Posted November 29, 2011

    Great read

    A great Christmas murder mystery with the Langslow family. For Donna Andrews fans a must read.

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  • Posted February 14, 2011

    Great Seasonal Read

    You'll be glad to relax with this one after all that shopping.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 6, 2010

    Fun Read

    A fun read the main character reminds me of the daughter in Father Knows Best and her dad reminds me of the dad in Happy Days. A lot of fun.

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  • Posted February 24, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Fun and fast read

    Donna Andrews uses birds as a theme for her murder mystery books. This is what makes these books different from other murder mystery books. They are funny, intriguing and enjoyable to read. They make me what to know more about Meg and her family. What is fun about this series is that they are near where I live. I recommend this book as a nice easy read when too much stuff is going on in your life and you need a break.

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    Posted May 16, 2011

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    Posted March 8, 2011

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    Posted January 15, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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    Posted May 24, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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    Posted May 4, 2012

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    Posted August 17, 2011

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    Posted June 19, 2011

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