Some Like It Hawk: A Meg Langslow Mystery

Some Like It Hawk: A Meg Langslow Mystery

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by Donna Andrews

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Meg helps run Caerphilly's summer arts and crafts festival while trying to smoke out a murderer—turn up the heat, because Some Like it Hawk!

The hilariously funny Donna Andrews delivers another winner in the award-winning New York Times bestselling series that has captured human and avian hearts alike. Meg Langslow is plying her blacksmith's

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Meg helps run Caerphilly's summer arts and crafts festival while trying to smoke out a murderer—turn up the heat, because Some Like it Hawk!

The hilariously funny Donna Andrews delivers another winner in the award-winning New York Times bestselling series that has captured human and avian hearts alike. Meg Langslow is plying her blacksmith's trade at "Caerphilly Days," a festival inspired by her town's sudden notoriety as "The Town That Mortgaged Its Jail." The lender has foreclosed on all Caerphilly's public buildings, and all employees have evacuated —except one. Phineas Throckmorton, the town clerk, has been barricaded in the courthouse basement for over a year.

Mr. Throckmorton's long siege has only been possible because of a pre-Civil War tunnel leading from the courthouse basement to a crawl space beneath the bandstand. The real reason for Caerphilly Days is to conceal the existence of the tunnel: the tourist crowds camouflage supply deliveries, and the ghastly screeching of the tunnel's rusty trap door is drowned out by as many noisy activities as the locals can arrange. But the lender seems increasingly determined to evict Mr. Throckmorton—and may succeed after one of its executives is found shot, apparently from inside the basement. Meg and her fellow townspeople suspect that someone hopes to end the siege by framing Mr. Throckmorton. Unless the real killer can be found quickly, the town will have to reveal the secret of the tunnel—and the fact that they've been aiding and abetting the basement's inhabitant. Meg soon deduces that the killer isn't just trying to end the siege but to conceal information that would help the town reclaim its buildings--if the townspeople can find it before the lender destroys it in a gut-busting caper that will have giggles and guffaws coming as fast as a four-alarm fire.

A gaggle of praise for Donna Andrews and the Meg Langslow Mystery Series:

"If you long for more fun mysteries, a la Janet Evanovich, you'll love Donna Andrews's Meg Langslow series." —Charlotte Observer

"A long-running series that gets better all the time. A fine blend of academic satire, screwball comedy, and murder." —Booklist
"As always, Andrews laces this entertaining whodunit with wit, a fine storyline and characters we've come to know and love." —Richmond Times-Dispatch on The Real Macaw

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St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
Meg Langslow Series , #14
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Chapter 1
“Welcome to the town that mortgaged its own jail!”
The amplified voice blaring over the nearby tour bus loudspeaker startled me so much I almost smashed my own thumb. I’d been lifting my hammer to turn a nicely heated iron rod into a fireplace poker when the tour guide’s spiel boomed across the town square, shattering my concentration.
“Mommy, did the blacksmith lady do that on purpose?” piped up a child’s voice.
A few onlookers tittered. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, then opened them again. I checked to make sure that all fifty or sixty of the spectators were safely behind the fence around my outdoor blacksmith’s shop. Then I raised my hammer and began pounding.
Nothing like blacksmithing when you’re feeling annoyed. The voice from the tour bus still squawked away, but I couldn’t hear what it was saying. And I felt the tension and frustration pouring out of me like water out of a twisted sponge.
Along with the sweat. Even though it was only a little past ten, the temperature was already in the high eighties and the air was thick with humidity. It would hit the mid-nineties this afternoon. A typical early July day in Caerphilly, Virginia.
But in spite of the heat and the interruptions, I managed to complete the current task—shaping one end of the iron rod into the business end of the poker. I flourished the hammer dramatically on the last few blows and lifted the tongs to display the transformed rod.
“Voila!” I said. “One fireplace poker.”
“But it needs a handle,” an onlooker said.
“A handle?” I turned the rod and cocked my head, as if to look at it more closely, and pretended to be surprised. “You’re right. So let’s heat the other end and make a handle.”
I thrust the handle end of the poker into my forge and pulled the bellows lever a couple of times to heat up the fire. As I did, I glanced over at my cousin, Rose Noire. She was standing in the opening at the back of my booth, staring at her cell phone. She looked up and shook her head.
“What the hell is keeping Rob?” I muttered. Not that my brother was ever famous for punctuality.
I wondered, just for a moment, if he was okay.
I’d have heard about it already if he wasn’t, I told myself. I pushed my worry aside and kept my face pleasant for the tourists. After all, I’d been making a good living off the tourists all summer. However inconvenient it had been to move my entire blacksmithing shop from our barn to the Caerphilly town square, it had certainly been a financial bonanza. Maybe it wouldn’t be a bad idea if the town held Caerphilly Days every summer.
I just hoped we didn’t have to continue them into the fall. What if—
I focused on the tourists again and continued my demonstration.
“To work the iron, you need to heat it to approximately—”
“That tent on your right contains the office of the mayor,” the tour bus boomed, even closer at hand. “Formerly housed in the now-empty City Hall building.”
No use trying to out-shout a loudspeaker. I smiled, shrugged apologetically to the tourists, and steeled myself to listen without expression as the voice droned on, reciting the sad, embarrassing history of Caerphilly’s financial woes.
“Alas, when the recession hit,” the loudspeaker informed us, “the town was unable to keep up with payments on its loan, so the lender was forced to repossess the courthouse, the jail, and all the other public buildings.”
Convenient that they didn’t mention the real reason Caerphilly couldn’t make its payments—that George Pruitt, our ex-mayor, had stolen most of the borrowed funds for his own use. Actually, a few buses had, until he’d threatened to sue, so now they just mentioned the ongoing lawsuit against him. Not as dramatic, but less apt to backfire.
“And to your left, you can see the Caerphilly Days festival, organized by the citizens to help their troubled town out of its dire plight.”
I always winced when I heard that line. It wasn’t exactly false—but it did seem to imply that we craftspeople were donating our time and our profits out of the goodness of our hearts, to benefit the town. We weren’t—we were making good money for our own pockets. Our real value to the town lay elsewhere.
Not that we could let the tour buses know that—or worse, the Evil Lender, as we all called First Progressive Financial, LLC, the company that had foreclosed on so much of our town. Only our new mayor made an effort to call them FPF, and that was because he spent so much time negotiating with them and had to be polite.
I glanced into the forge and was relieved to see that my iron was hot enough to work. I glanced at Rose Noire and nodded, to indicate that I was about to start hammering again. She bent over her cell phone and began texting rapidly. To Rob, I assumed.
“Come on, Rob,” I muttered. “Hurry up.”
I pulled the rod out of my forge and began the much more complicated job of hammering the handle end into a sinuous vinelike coiled shape. Mercifully, by the time the iron needed reheating, the amplified tour bus had moved on, and I had only the tourists’ questions to deal with.
“What happens if you break it?”
“Don’t you ever burn yourself?”
“You shoe horses, don’t you?”
“Wouldn’t it be faster to do that with a machine?”
I spun out my answers in between bouts at my anvil. Finishing the poker required several return visits to the forge, followed by several vigorous rounds of hammering. I could see Rose Noire, cell phone in hand, keeping a close eye on my progress. I treated the rod—and the tourists—to one last crescendo, a great deal louder than it needed to be, dunked the rod into the water bucket, releasing a small but dramatic cloud of steam, and held up the finished poker for the tourists to admire.
And then I did it all over again. Several times. I answered what seemed like several hundred more questions—or more accurately, at least a hundred iterations of the same half dozen questions. Finally the clock in the courthouse building chimed eleven, signaling the end of my shift.
I finished up the andiron I’d been making and thanked the tourists. Then I changed my sign to the one saying that Meg Langslow’s next blacksmithing exhibition would begin at 2 P.M. and slipped through the gate in the back of my enclosure. The cousin I’d recruited to mind the booth and sell my ironwork for me dashed in and began quickly shoving the tables of merchandise from the side of the enclosure to a much more prominent place front and center before the crowds dispersed.
Normally I’d have stayed to help her, but Rose Noire was waiting for me. She looked anxious. Not good.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“Rob’s been delayed,” she said. “He’s fine, and he’ll try again later.”
“Delayed?” I realized that I’d raised my voice. Several tourists were looking at us, so I choked back what I’d been about to say. “Back to the tent!” I said instead.
I strode rapidly across the small space separating my forge from the bandstand at the center of the town square. At the back of the bandstand was a tent. The town square was filled with tents of every size, shape, and description, but whenever anyone barked out “the tent!” as I just had, they nearly always meant this one.
Rose Noire scuttled along anxiously behind me.
As soon as I stepped inside the tent, I felt my fingers itching to tidy and organize. Even at its best, the tent was cramped and cluttered, since it served as the dressing room, green room, and lounge for all the craftspeople and performers participating in Caerphilly Days. Several coatracks held costumes for performers who would be appearing later or street clothes for anyone already in costume. And every corner held plastic bins, locked trunks, totes, knapsacks, boxes, grocery bags, suitcases, and just plain piles of stuff.
“Mom-my!” Josh and Jamie, my twin eighteen-month-old sons, greeted me with enthusiasm. They both toddled to the nearest side of the huge play enclosure we’d set up, holding out their arms and leaning over the child fence toward me, jostling each other, and repeating “Mom-my! Mom-my!”
Eric, my teenaged nephew, was sitting at the back of the enclosure, holding a toy truck and looking slightly hurt.
“They were fine until you came in,” he said.
“I know,” I said. “They just want to guilt-trip me.” Making a mental note to chivvy my fellow tent users into a cleaning spree later in the day, I stepped into the enclosure, sat down, and let the boys climb on top of me. Hugging them calmed me down.
“Thank you for watching them,” I said. “And not that I’m complaining, but what are you doing here instead of Natalie?” Eric’s sister had been our live-in babysitter for most of the summer.
“Grandpa says Natalie’s ankle is broken and she needs to stay off her feet,” Eric said. “So Mom drove up this morning to take her home and bring me as a replacement for the next few weeks. Assuming that’s okay with you.”
“It’s fine with me.” Having Eric babysit was fine, anyway. Should I feel guilty that my niece had broken her ankle chasing my sons? I’d worry about that later.
“And thank goodness you’re here to help out in time for the Fourth of July,” I said aloud. “Everything will get a lot easier after the Fourth.”
“I thought Caerphilly Days went on all summer,” Eric said. “What’s so special about the Fourth?”
“I haven’t told him,” Rose Noire said. “And evidently Natalie is very good at keeping a secret.”
“But he’s a resident now, at least for the time being,” I said. “Eric, do you swear you won’t tell a single soul what I am about to reveal?”
“Yes,” he said. “I mean, I swear by … um…”
“Cross your heart and hope to die?” I asked.
He nodded.
“Okay. Then it’s time we told you Caerphilly’s sinister secret.”

Copyright © 2012 by Donna Andrews

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Some Like It Hawk: A Meg Langslow Mystery 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 22 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read this entire series. While the murder mystery in each book is intriguing, it's Meg's quirky family that makes you laugh out loud. I would recommend this for anyone.
bookswomanSD More than 1 year ago
Donna Andrews has been writing about Meg Langslow for quite a while now, in fact this is book 14 in the series. I now own all of the series but this is the first I've read. I've heard wonderful things about the series but other books just seemed to keep pushing to the front. Well, no more! Even though I normally read series in order I made an exception for this book because I won it as an ARC and promised to read and write a review. Having missed out on the first 13 books I'm going to be very careful about spoilers. Meg and her family and friends are working to try and save their town from an "evil lender". In the process they are having a summer celebration with blacksmithing demonstrations, dancers, singers, bands, plays and just about anything else that can be done on a stage. There are food booths and craft booths, there are many, many "loud" things. The LOUDER the better since they are covering up a secret. There are lots of fun parts of the book, the cousin who when stressed needs to be in a gorilla suit, Meg's twins learning about fireworks and "boom". I love the characters, I love the setting and most of all I love that there was restraint in the number of dead bodies that show up. Meg is working with the police to solve the murder of one of the staff of the evil lender. With all the chaos of the "fair" and the confusion of the mystery the book kept me guessing. It is a tribute to a very good author that I could start at book 14 and want to go back and read all the earlier books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was looking forward to this addition to the Meg Langslow series and it did not disappoint. The only problem is now I have to wait for the next book in the series.
Connie1950 More than 1 year ago
Wow by the second chapter I had read "Evil Lender" so many times, that I wondered what the author had against banks and mortgage companies. Then she started badmouthing American corporations and I thought, I'm done! I tossed the book in the trash and just pulled it long enough to make sure I wrote a review on the correct author. What a waste of $7.99.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
BritVic More than 1 year ago
I had read series numbered 1 - 13 in about 3 weeks from the library and could not bear to wait until numbers 14 and 15 were also available, thus this purchase. I was not disappointed! One is introduced to characters who fast become "family" to the reader. The stories are fun and hold one's attention to the very last page. I thoroughly enjoy Ms. Andrews' style of writing and recommend this series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
good job! looking forward to this addition to the Meg Langslow series and it did not disappoint. The only problem is now I have to wait for the next book in the series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
rabidreaderinwashington More than 1 year ago
I learned about Donna Andrews through a book club I attend and I have said thank you every time a new book is published. The entire community is in on this one, including Meg and all of her family. In this day and age, it is wonderful to sit back and read a book that keeps you involved in trying to solve a mystery and makes you laugh out loud. Donna Andrews, well done.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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megareader-nc More than 1 year ago
First book that I have read by Donna Andrews but will not be the last. Great characters and the storyline is great with just a twist here and there.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have enjoyed all the books of the Meg Langslow series but this is my favorite. Loved the mystery & the characters dry sense of humor.
judiOH More than 1 year ago
this installment of the caerphilly town story, as well as meg's dealing with a crooked ex-mayor and an embezzlement by said ex. the town has been evicted from all it's offices, and the fpf is trying to take more land from it's citizens. what's going on and why? meg will figure it out. phinney has barricaded himself in the basement of the court house, which also houses the important papers of caerphilly. after a murder occurs, meg is involved in its solution. a cozy mystery with plenty of humor including a tunnel, (used to take food etc in to phinney), that you must lay down on a flat-bed cart to use to get to phinney, also a festival with lots of noisy entertainment to cover a loud trapdoor opening. and horace and his monkey suit are there too. if you want a fun read with a mystery involved, this is the one to read!
M_W More than 1 year ago
Meg Langslow and family are fun to get together with. If you are looking for a well written, funny, character centered mystery, this series is for you. It's clean, witty and the characters are like old friends.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have enjoyed the entire series. Andrews sense of humor is a winner!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
On reread of hawk that its not as funny i think it was all that tunnel door stuff just kept gong on and on marriage often slows a series but no reason nt to do flash backs with plots or as they say now prequels m.a.@sparta
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love the series but I didn't feel the necessity to read into the night with this one.