Murder With Peacocks by Donna Andrews
My rating: 4 of 5 stars (8/10)
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.
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