Murder with Peacocks (Meg Langslow Series #1)

Murder with Peacocks (Meg Langslow Series #1)

by Donna Andrews

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780312970635
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 01/15/2000
Series: Meg Langslow Series , #1
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 167,887
Product dimensions: 4.12(w) x 6.81(h) x 0.88(d)

About the Author

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.

Read an Excerpt

Murder With Peacocks

Tuesday, May 24
I HAD BECOME SO USED TO HYSTERICAL DAWN PHONE CALLS THAT I only muttered one halfhearted oath before answering.
"Peacocks," a voice said.
"I beg your pardon, you must have the wrong number," I mumbled. I opened one eye to peer at the clock: it was 6:00 A.M.
"Oh, don't be silly, Meg," the voice continued. Ah, I recognized it now. Samantha, my brother, Rob's, fiancee. "I just called to tell you that we need some peacocks."
"What for?"
"For the wedding, of course." Of course. As far as Samantha was concerned, the entire universe revolved around her upcoming wedding, and as maid of honor, I was expected to share her obsession.
"I see," I said, although actually I didn't. I suppressed a shudder at the thought of peacocks, roasted with the feathers still on, gracing the buffet table. Surely that wasn't what she had in mind, was it? "What are we going to do with them at the wedding?"
"We're not going to do anything with them," Samantha said, impatiently. "They'll just be there, adding grace and elegance to the occasion. Don't you remember the weekend before last when we all had dinner with your father? And he was saying what a pity it was that nothing much would be blooming in the yard in August, so there wouldn't be much color? Well, I just saw a photo in a magazine that had peacocks in it, and they were just about the most darling things you ever saw ..."
I let her rattle on while I fumbled over the contents of my bedside table, found my notebook-that-tells-me-when-to-breathe, flipped to the appropriate page, and wrote "Peacocks" in the clear, firm printing I use when I am not in a very good mood.
"Were you thinking of buying or renting them?" I asked, interrupting Samantha's oration on the charms of peacocks.
"Well--rent if we can. I'm sure Father would be perfectly happy to buy them if necessary, but I'm not sure what we would do with them in the long run." I noted "Rent/buy if necessary" after "Peacocks."
"Right. Peacocks. I'll see what I can turn up."
"Wonderful. Oh, Meg, you're just so wonderful at all this!"
I let her gush for a few more minutes. I wondered, not for the first time, if I should feel sorry for Rob or if he was actually looking forward to listening to her for the rest of his life. And did Rob, who shared my penchant for late hours, realize how much of a morning person Samantha was? Eventually, I managed to cut short her monologue and sign off. I was awake; I might as well get to work.
Muttering "Peacocks!" under my breath, I stumbled through a quick shower, grabbed some coffee, and went into my studio. I flung open all the windows and gazed fondly at my unlit forge and my ironworking tools. My spirits rose.
For about ten seconds. Then the phone rang again.
"What do you think of blue, dear?" my mother asked.
"Good morning, Mother. What do you mean, blue?"
"The color blue, dear."
"The color blue," I repeated, unenlightened. I am not at my best before noon.
"Yes, dear," Mother said, with a touch of impatience.
"What do I think of it?" I asked, baffled. "I think it's a lovely color. The majority of Americans name blue when asked their favorite color. In Asian cultures--"
"For the living room, dear."
"Oh. You're getting something blue for the living room?"
"I'm redoing it, dear. For the wedding, remember? In blue. Or green. But I was really leaning to blue. I was wondering what you thought."
What I thought? Truthfully? I thought my mother's idea of redoing the living room for the wedding had been a temporary aberration arising from too much sherry after dinner at an uncle's house. And incidentally, the wedding in question wasnot Rob's and Samantha's but her own. After the world's most amiable divorce and five years of so-called single life during which my father happily continued to do all her yard work and run errands for her, my mother had decided to marry a recently widowed neighbor. And I had also agreed to be Mother's maid of honor. Which, knowing my mother, meant I had more or less agreed to do every lick of work associated with the occasion. Under her exacting supervision, of course.
"What sort of blue?" I asked, buying time. The living room was done entirely in earth tones. Redoing it in blue would involve new drapes, new upholstery, new carpet, new everything. Oh, well, Dad could afford it, I suppose. Only Dad wouldn't be paying, I reminded myself. What's-his-name would. Mother's fiancé. Jake. I had no idea how well or badly off Jake was. Well, presumably Mother did.
"I hadn't decided, dear. I thought you might have some ideas."
"Oh. I tell you what," I said, improvising. "I'll ask Eileen. She's the one with the real eye for color. I'll ask her, and we'll get some color swatches and we'll talk about it when I come down."
"That will be splendid, Meg dear. Well, I'll let you get back to your work now. See you in a few days."
I added "Blue" to my list of things to do. I actually managed to put down my coffee and pick up my hammer before the phone rang a third time.
"Oh, Meg, he's impossible. This is just not going to work."
The voice belonged to my best friend and business partner, Eileen. She with the eye for colors. The he in question was Steven, since New Year's Eve her fiancé, at least during the intervals between premarital spats. At the risk of repeating myself, I should add that I was, of course, also Eileen's maid of honor.
"What's wrong?" I asked.
"He doesn't want to include the Native American herbal purification ceremony in the wedding."
"Well," I said, after a pause, "perhaps he feels a little self conscious about it. Since neither of you is actually Native American."
"That's silly. It's a lovely tradition and makes such an important statement about our commitment to the environment."
I sighed.
"I'll talk to him," I said. "Just one thing ... Eileen, what kind of herbs are we talking about here? I mean, we're not talking anything illegal, are we?"
"Oh, Meg." Eileen laughed. "Really! I have to go, my clay's ready." She hung up, still laughing merrily. I added "Call Steven re herbs" to my list.
I looked around the studio. My tools were there, ready and waiting for me to dive into the ironwork that is both my passion and my livelihood. I knew I really ought to get some work done today. In a few days, I would be back in my hometown for what I was sure would be a summer from hell. But I was already having a hard time concentrating on work. Maybe it was time to throw in the towel and head down to Yorktown.
The phone rang again. I glared at it, willing it to shut up. It ignored me and kept on ringing. I sighed, and picked it up.
Eileen again.
"Oh, Meg, before you go down to Yorktown, could you--"
"I won't have time to do anything else before I go down to Yorktown; I'm going down there tomorrow."
"Wonderful! Why don't you stop by on your way? We have some things to tell you."
On my way. Yorktown, where my parents and Eileen's father lived and where all the weddings were taking place, was three hours south of Washington, on the coast. Steven's farm, where Eileen was now living, was three hours west, in the mountains. I was opening my mouth to ask if she had any idea how inconvenient stopping by was when I suddenly realized: if I went to Steven and Eileen's, I could force them to make decisions, extract lists and signatures. I would have them in my clutches. This could be useful.
"I'll be there for supper tomorrow."
I spent the day putting my life on hold and turning over my studio to the struggling sculptor who'd sublet it for the summer. I went to bed feeling virtuous. I intended to spend the next several days really getting things done for the weddings.
Copyright © 1999 by Donna Andrews.

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From the Publisher

"Andrews's debut provides plenty of laughs...hilarity and comic panache." —Publishers Weekly

"Loquacious dialogue, persistent humor and interrupted romance..A fun, breezy read."

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Murder with Peacocks (Meg Langslow Series #1) 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 95 reviews.
SFL More than 1 year ago
Loved the characters and the author's way of writing. A very pleasant read from cover to cover. My only complaint is that the second in the series is not available for Nook. In fact I think the next available book in the series for Nook is about book 8 or 10. So disappointing to get started in a series only to find you either have to wait until they come out on Nook, which should have been established already, or read them in paperback version. This defeats the purpose of having a Nook.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Read the first six Meg Langslow novels so far. Excellent. Now I am on a reading binge throughthe rest if them. All women authors apparently must be compared to the Evanovitch Standard. Sorry, Stephanie Plum is a klutzy flake who loses handcuffs and misplaces bullets - repeatedly - and never learns. She survives because her mystery man, the bounty hunter answer to James Bond x Daddy Warbucks, has trouble keeping his eyes, hands, and other body parts off her. Meg Langslow is a smart, capable, foxy lady who holds her own as a protagonist. She brings fun and excitement to the woman detective genre. Maybe it is time for a new standard. Ladies, it may be nice to think about being 38-24-38; some of us male chavinist porkers have our own gender specific version of the dream But PLEASE think about protagonists whose IQs are equal to the sum of those measurements, like Meg, Nicki Heat, V.I. Warshawski, et alia; not their average.
BNreader56SC More than 1 year ago
First time I have read any of her books. I really enjoyed it. There is a cast of quirky characters that keep the humor flowing. This light reading and pure fun and escapism. Enjoy
jmoon74 More than 1 year ago
Really liked the story. Meg definatley has her hands full with her relatives and her friends. I can honestly say I did not want to put this book down.
melouria More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed the dysfunctional and quirky characters and once the accidents and bodies began dropping the dark comedy was appreciated as well. I plan on reading more from this author.
Artistic_Fish More than 1 year ago
Gave me a whole new appreciation for peacocks! LOL Great characters, made me want to read the next one in the series immediately! Funny and intriguing page after page!
ElizabethPA More than 1 year ago
I enjoy reading this kind of book when I am falling asleep at night. It is fun and quirky. The whole book was inviting and appealing but it held together as a story and I never lost interest in the outcome.
JulieOhio More than 1 year ago
The quirky characters and odd-ball antics were just fabulous and made me laugh out loud many times. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the series.
MusicMom41 on LibraryThing less than 1 minute ago
Richard was touting this series so much on his 75 Challenge thread (and getting them on Hot Review list¿so I got a double dose of the reviews!) that I finally broke down this weekend and decided to try the first one. I picked it up at the library Saturday morning when hubby and I started on our long list of errands. He drove and I read. The first 50 pages I was thinking, ¿Okay, this is cute. I think I¿ll probably enjoy this.¿ By the time we got home I was half way through the book, so as soon as we unloaded the car I plopped myself in my recliner and continued to read. Suddenly I burst out laughing aloud. Hubby asked what I was reading and I read him the funny part¿even he chuckled. I then said to him that this book was definitely getting three stars! About an hour¿and several guffaws ¿later hubby said he thought I was enjoying it enough to give it a higher rating, so I said 3 stars for the mystery and extra ½ star for the humor. By the time I finished the book that night hubby insisted I had had too good of a time with the book not to give it at least 4 stars. This is not generally the type of mystery I enjoy but this was one of the best humorous novels I¿ve read in a long time. The mystery was okay¿although I knew ¿who dunnit¿ early on¿but the delightful characters and the humor made me think of Jerome K. Jerome or P.G. Wodehouse at their best. I will definitely be reading the next one in the series! Highly Recommended¿4 stars
CheriePie69 on LibraryThing 3 months ago
Meg Lanslow, a 30-year-old blacksmith, heads back to her home town of Yorkstown, VA for the summer to be the maid of honor in 3 weddings, her mother's, her brother's, and her best friend Eileen's, all within 2 weeks of each other. After a few days, the mayhem begins with the first dead body found on the beach behind her mother's house. Of course, this wouldn't be a Meg Lanslow mystery if the conditions and circumstances surrounding the murder weren't zany and strange.As Meg and her Dad go sleuthing to uncover the culprit, they unwittingly become the murderer's next victims, presumably because they're getting too close to the truth. Aided by Meg's new friend Michael, the dressmaker's son, hilarity ensues and a few more bodies are found, fortunately of characters that you've come to dislike anyway.Even when you think you've got it all figured out, some new twists are introduced that cause you to rethink your suspicions. This book kept me enthralled from the first page to the last, and I'm eagerly anticipating Murder With Puffins, which I've requested from my local library.
rocalisa on LibraryThing 3 months ago
This book was a delight. The characters are quirky, funny and quite, quite insane. The story rolls along at an easy pace and goes in logical but totally unexpected directions. Meg Langslow knows she has a busy summer ahead of her. She's bridesmaid at three weddings and the main organiser of them all. Meg's mother is getting remarried, despite no-one understanding why she and Meg's father ever split up in the first place, especially since her father spends almost all his time at the family house as if he had never left, only staying nights in his new home with Meg's sister. Her brother's fiance - the one who decided her wedding requires the peacocks of the title - has given Meg the honour and the hard work of being chief bridesmaid. To round the number out to three, her best friend is also getting married and Meg is in charge of her wedding as well. The entire prospect is daunting, one bright spot being Michael, who is running the local dressmakers while the owner, his aunt, is recuperating from an unexplained accident. She is soon informed he is gay, which given his good looks she considers a disappointment, but his help and friendliness is much appreciated. Between them, they start undertaking the difficult task of getting three bridal parties outfitted, while Meg also has to deal with all the other wedding preparations. Once guests start arriving, things only get more frantic. Especially when Meg's mother's sister-in-law to-be arrives in town. She is a tactless, disagreeable woman who clearly has the ability to make enemies at the drop of a hat. The only thing that could make life more difficult than her presence is her death. When she is found dead below the cliff near Meg's family home, difficult is an understatement. Her father dives in to trying to solve the mystery - in his own unique fashion - while Meg attempts to keep her attention on the weddings. Even so, with Michael's help, she seems to keep finding herself in the middle of it all to the point that someone starts trying to kill her. Andrews writes the book in a quirky and easy-to-read style. Meg's various trials are sympathetically written and yet funny to read. Her accidental solving of the murder slides easily into place beside the wedding planning and she is an engaging and sympathetic character. Meg's father is beautifully drawn and his gift to his ex-wife who is about to marry someone else is truly touching. The other characters are generally well penned, but my favourites remain Meg, Michael and Meg's father. Oh, and the peacocks. They are there to stay.
MyriadBooks on LibraryThing 3 months ago
I first found this book by visiting my local library and typing "murder" and "wedding" into a keyword search (I had a rash of weddings I was gearing up to attend. I need some sort of outlet). This was the only book that came up in the search. I liked it so much that not only did I purchase six copies to give to other bridesmaid friends of mine, I also skived my reading tastes strongly to mystery.Poor Meg Langslow has been roped into being the maid-of-honor for three different brides, whose weddings will all take place within a 15-day timespan. The author's clever way of begining and ending each 'chapter' is wonderful, the characters just beg for more books to be written about them (the book is really worth reading just for the character interactions alone), and the ending was satifying (if not quite unique). But the real mystery? None of the brides were the ones murdered.
LibraryLioness on LibraryThing 3 months ago
Donna Andrews won the 1998 St. Martin's Press/Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery Contest with this cozy mystery. It was the first of the Meg Lanslow series. Meg is a blacksmith. Well, maybe one should say that she creates decorative ironwork. "Murder with Peacocks" begins Meg's adventures as an amateur sleuth as she spends a crazy summer as an attendant in three weddings -- and a solver of a murder. Along the way we meets her eccentric family and one particular local resident who will become very important in her life. If you love quirky, hilarious mysteries, give the Meg Lanslow series a try.
TheLibraryhag on LibraryThing 3 months ago
Meg plans to spend the summer in her hometown in Virginia, organizing 3 weddings, her mother's, her best friend's and her brother's. It is a real challenge because her mother and best friend are helpless and she does not even like her brother's fiance. Before she can get the first wedding ready, a body shows up and her father, retired doctor and avid mystery fan, is trying to solve the murder, with Meg's help of course. She has nothing else to do. One disaster follows another and Meg finally decides that all these coincidences just can't be, well, coincidences. With the help of the hunky dress shop owner, Meg decides she has to solve the mystery, before more people end up dead. I really enjoyed this mystery. Meg and her family are a hoot. I look forward to more in the series.
lwright on LibraryThing 3 months ago
Very funny a waiting for Evanovich pick. First in the Meg Langslow series
Carstairs38 More than 1 year ago
Meg's summer as maid of honor in three weddings for three different demanding brides is complicated enough before a dead body shows up. And there's the attractive man in town for the summer as well.... This is a fun, enjoyable series debut with plenty of humor. However, the mystery gets side tracked by all the antics of the characters at time. Still, this does start a series I love to this day.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Happy dance. Loved it.
cjmaine More than 1 year ago
Love all her books, they are fun and keep you guessing till the end
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Favorite book of all time! Perfect plot!
Delphimo More than 1 year ago
This murder series is set on the coast of Virginia, and follows the cozy mystery format. The series centers on Meg Langslow, a blacksmith artist, who visits her family hometown for the summer to plan and coordinate three weddings. The whole town seems to be related to Meg's family and the various characters provide much comic release. Meg's father is a retired doctor who loves gardening and his ex-wife. Meg's mother prepares for her wedding to a recent widower, and this will be the final of the three summer weddings. Not to spoil the story, the weddings do not go smoothly. After just reading the latest Elizabeth George, this novel provided laughter and very speedy reading, but no character vividly remains etched in my memory.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Holy crap I wish my life was like Meg's. This is a fantastic book (and series) that kept me laughing the entire time. Murder with Peacocks is the beginning to a fantasic series of mystery, crazy family, and overall insanity. A must read for any mystery enthusiast!
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