Saturday, March 22, 2014

Some Like it Hawk by Donna Andrews

Some Like it Hawk
by Donna Andrews

Published:  St. Martin's Press
Format: paperback
Copyright: 2012
Pages: 324
Genre: Mystery
Source: personal copy  

From the back cover ...

"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 for Phineas Throckmorton, the town clerk who barricaded himself in the courthouse basement.

Phinny's year-long siege of protest has been possible because of a tunnel thorough which his local supporters deliver food and supplies. But when a woman is found dead on the premises, Phinny become a person of interest. Meg is certain that Phinny's been framed by the hawkish lender. Now it's up to Meg and the rest of Caerphilly to protect Phinny – and his beloved pet pigeons. Meanwhile, the killer has flown the coop ..."

Wow - who writes these things ?!? This is a rather ridiculous synopsis of the plot. Right, so in the last book, The Real Macaw, we found out that the mayor of Caerphilly had been up to some serious shenanigans with the town's money, putting the town at the mercy of the 'Evil Lender.' This book picks up with the main characters trying to save the town, both with lawsuits and a town festival, Caerphilly Days.

These are more madcap style cozy mysteries, so you don't go in expecting a deep and complicated mystery. Some of the books in the series are more clever than others when it comes to the who done it portion of the story (I loved Crouching Buzzard, Leaping Loon). On the other hand, the things I love about the series will keep me reading - I really like the main character Meg, she is a blacksmith, forthright and intelligent, she takes more on her shoulders than she should, including lots of  responsibility for her wacky extended family.  Her family and the cast of characters in the books is a huge plus - they grow on you and create a really 3-dimensional world. 

I also like that things move forward in the stories - we have not spend all of our time waiting for a main character to pick between to 'luv interests' or some such - Meg has gone from single, to married, to homeowner, to mother in this series.  With the 14th book, it is a bit of a struggle to keep things fresh, but the stories are not simple retreads of previous books.  This one wasn't as laugh out loud as earlier entries in the series, but it was still fun and relaxing to read. I still look forward to reading the next entries in the series and when I am under stress I will often pick up earlier books in the series for a re-read.

This particular entry in the series was not the strongest - in some ways it felt more like an intermediate story (13.5) meant to resolve the things that were leftover from the last book.  Each story usually has a very strong uniting theme - like attending an SF/F Con, Civil War reenactment, or a garden club contest - that also plays an important role in the story.  Caerphilly Days was more of a panoramic backdrop than a coherent venue. The cast of characters was smaller than usual as well, and no one got to be particularly odd - which is the source of most of the fun the books. I did laugh out loud a couple of times and I liked seeing Meg adapting to life with the twins.

I can't really rate this fairly because I read these totally for fun and have become somewhat invested in the series (this was the 14th book!) - my best stab at an impartial rating would be three and a half because the ending - you saw that coming and the resolution went a bit too quick. But, I will keep reading the series and enjoying them.

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