Praise for Donna Andrews’s Meg Langslow Mysteries

We’ll Always Have Parrots

“I can’t say enough good things about this series, and this entry in it.”

—Deadly Pleasures

Crouching Buzzard, Leaping Loon

“If you long for more ‘fun’ mysteries, a la Janet Evanovich, you’ll love Donna Andrews’s Meg Langslow series.”

—The Charlotte Observer

“There’s a smile on every page and at least one chuckle per chapter.”

—Publishers Weekly

Revenge of the Wrought-Iron Flamingos

“At the top of the list…A fearless protagonist, remarkable supporting characters, lively action, and a keen wit.”

—Library Journal

“What a lighthearted gem of a juggling act…With her trademark witty dialogue and fine sense of the ridiculous, Andrews keeps all her balls in the air with skill and verve.”

—Publishers Weekly

“Genuinely fascinating. A better-than-average entry in a consistently entertaining…series.”


Murder with Puffins

“Muddy trails, old secrets, and plenty of homespun humor.”

—St. Petersburg Times

“The well-realized island atmosphere, the puffin lore, and the ubiquitous birders only add to the fun.”

—Denver Post

“Andrews’s tale of two puffins has much to recommend it, and will leave readers cawing for another adventure featuring the appealing Meg and Michael.”

—Publishers Weekly

“The puffin angle proves very amusing…An enjoyable flight of fancy.”


Murder with Peacocks

“The first novel is so clever, funny, and original that lots of wannabe authors will throw up their hands in envy and get jobs in a coffee shop.”

—Contra Costa Times

“Loquacious dialogue, persistent humor…A fun, breezy read.”

—Library Journal

“Half Jane Austen, half battery acid…[W]ill leave you helpless with heartless laughter…Andrews combines murder and madcap hilarity with a cast of eccentric odd-balls in a small Southern town.”

—Kirkus Reviews

“Andrews’s debut provides plenty of laughs for readers who like their mysteries on the cozy side.”

—Publishers Weekly

Chapter 1

I woke up when Michael began screaming in the bathroom.

I pried open one eye and saw that it was 5:45. A.M.

“Michael,” I called.

He probably couldn’t hear me, given the volume of noise he was producing.

“Damn the man,” I muttered, pulling the pillow over my head.

The racket from the bathroom changed to a loud gurgle, and while the hotel’s meager pillow might be adequate for sleeping—just barely—it couldn’t muffle the sounds of a classically trained stage actor, diligently performing his morning vocal exercises. And gargling repeatedly with a variety of concoctions, to counteract the effects of a bad head cold.

I’d have bet that the alternating doses of salt water, dissolved baby aspirin, and Listerine did more to irritate his throat than soothe it. But I knew better than to say so. In the several years we’d been together, I’d learned that things went more smoothly if I didn’t try to argue with Michael about the various strange superstitions and crank health notions he shared with his theater friends.

I shoved the pillow aside, leaned over, and groped on the floor by the side of the bed until I found the program book I’d dropped there last night.

“Welcome to the Jungles of Amblyopia!” proclaimed the headline. I paused to look at the group photo below. Michael looked dashing despite the corny costume—a black velvet wizard’s robe, covered with phony magical symbols and allowed to fall open to show that he was shirtless beneath. Of course, maybe I was biased. Maybe to an unprejudiced eye Michael looked just as ill-at-ease as the rest of the cast of Porfiria, Queen of the Jungle—the low-budget TV show that had catapulted him to sudden cult fame.

And brought us to this rather run-down hotel in suburban Northern Virginia, where the Friends of Amblyopia —the show’s fan club—had organized their first East Coast convention. For the next three days Michael and his co- stars would endure an endless round of panels, banquets, and autograph sessions.

He’d tried to weasel out of it by claiming a conflict with his other career—his real career—as a drama professor at a small but prestigious Virginia college. But unfortunately his contract required attending a certain number of publicity events for the show—and everyone had to be at this particular convention on direct orders from Tamerlaine Wynncliffe-Jones, the aging B-movie actress who played Queen Porfiria and, more to the point, owned the production company. Apparently attendance had been embarrassingly low the last time they’d held a convention with only the QB, as the cast and crew usually called her. To her face, people pretended that QB stood for “Queen Bee,” but even she wasn’t stupid enough to ignore the obvious, slightly longer alternative to the second word. Since she never objected to being called the QB, I suspected she secretly relished the substitution.

So it was really the QB’s fault that Michael had awakened me this early. I liked that thought. Much more satisfactory to blame her for the loss of my beauty sleep.

I was already resigned to losing my identity for the weekend. Instead of Meg Langslow, blacksmith, I’d be Meg, she’s-with-Michael. Meg, can-we-add-one-more-to-the-dinner-reservation. Meg, who should disappear gracefully when the swooning fans show up.

“It would be different if we were married,” Michael said the last time we’d done one of these events. Reasons for tying the knot popped into our conversations with increasing frequency these days.

“True,” I said. “But as a reason to commit matrimony, I’d put that only slightly above filing a joint tax return, and way below your offer to elope even if both mothers threw tantrums at being deprived of the wedding of the millennium.”

And even if being married would make it easier for the convention organizers to recall my existence, it wouldn’t change the way Michael’s more devoted female fans hated me. But at least if I got enough sleep to look my best, “If only she didn’t exist!” wouldn’t automatically be followed by “What in the world does he see in her?”

I rubbed my eyes and flipped through the program to the Friday schedule. Aha. Michael had a 9 A.M. “spotlight”—a solo appearance on the main stage. Obviously he was in pre-performance mode. He’d spend an hour or so doing vocal exercises and another hour fussing with his hair and clothes. Normally this would leave him an hour to sit around making himself nervous, but I suspected today he’d spend that hour self-medicating for the cold.

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