Tag Archives: mystery

A Cozy Mystery Series Favorite: Donna Andrew’s Round Up the Usual Peacocks

3 Aug

Donna Andrew’s first book in her Meg Langslow series, Murder with Peacocks, was set during a series of weddings that the main character Meg, a blacksmith, was scheduled to participate in as maid of honor.  Quirky family shenanigans ensued and a romance that has grown throughout the series blossomed.  Murder with Peacocks received an Agatha Award for Best First Novel. This latest entry is a call back to the 1999 original, with the wedding of Meg’s brother and his charming fiancé Delaney. 

Rather than multiple weddings to contend with, an additional plot line is weaved throughout the latest novel of a possible threat to Meg’s nephew, Kevin, and his fellow podcaster who may have gotten too close to solving one of the cold case mysteries they broadcast about.  If you love Only Murders in the Building than this storyline will appeal.   

The main delight of the Meg Langslow series is always the crazy cast of relatives and friends that Meg is surrounded by.  If you ever longed for a loving extended family that go in for huge family gatherings than this will be a delight.  Also in each of the mysteries since the first, some sort of bird has been part of the mystery or at least been featured in a subplot, in this case again we have the peacocks who are as ornery as they are beautiful. 

With Round Up the Usual Peacocks, Donna Andrew’s again proves why she is my favorite cozy mystery author! You can read several of my past blogs about Andrew’s works including Murder Most Fowl and The Twelve Jays of Christmas. I’m looking forward to what comes next in her Christmas release Dashing Through the Snowbirds, which is scheduled to be available in October.

If you are a mystery fan, make sure to check out our library’s Mystery Book Club; you can email for more information: rosary.vaningen @ hoboken.bccls.org.

Written by:
Aimee Harris
Information and Digital Services Manager

Quirky Characters, a Charming Setting and Topical Issues: Louise Penny’s A Better Man

4 May

A Better Man
Take a small rural Canadian village. A bistro serving almond croissants and café au lait. A quirky cast of core characters, with a few new faces mixed in each new book of the series.

Mix in some current topical issues, in this case the effects of environmental change, social media reality and the how impressions can be shaped there by anonymity, doctored videos and the viral nature of opinions. Add other dark aspects of life, like violence against women.

What you get is a somewhat cozy mystery with enough rough reality mixed in that you won’t gag from the sweetness.

It’s a formula that is repeated throughout this now 15 book long series. Armand Gamache, an officer of the Surete du Quebec lives with his extended family in the (fictional) village of Three Pines in Quebec. He deals with various crimes (a rather shocking amount, for such a backwater) as well as issues within the Surete du Quebec. He carries the baggage of decisions he has made in his career in each new book. In this one, he is looking into the disappearance of a woman known to have been abused by her husband. He is helped by his son-in-law Jean-Guy Beauvoir, and other Surete agents that have appeared in previous books in the series.

I hesitate to make the suggestion, because it is a rather substantial reading commitment, but it really is best to read the series in order. There is enough explanation of the backstories of the major plot developments to get you through each book as a stand-alone, but your enjoyment will be deeper for seeing characters develop over time. Penny doesn’t pull any punches. She is not afraid to write main characters out of the script or involve plot twists that will shock you.

A list of the series in order from the first to the most recent is: Still Life, A Fatal Grace/Dead Cold (same book, different title), The Cruelest Month, A Rule Against Murder/The Murder Stone (same book, different title), The Brutal Telling, Bury Your Dead, A Trick of the Light, The Beautiful Mystery, How the Light Gets In, The Long Way Home, The Nature of the Beast, A Great Reckoning, Glass Houses, Kingdom of the Blind, and A Better Man.  You can find them as ebooks and/or digital audiobooks to checkout from eLibraryNJ, eBCCLS, and Hoopla.

If you require s bit more convincing, take a look at Louise Penny’s web site, which features reviews and more describing the books in detail.

What I enjoy about the series is the morality of Armand Gamache and the plotting that keeps each book both familiar and surprising. And the food! The characters frequently indulge in food and drink at the bistro or at get-togethers at the villagers’ homes that sound awesome.

Written by:
Victoria Turk
Reference Librarian

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