This is posted as part of Keishon’s TBR Day challenge, which is aimed at encouraging us readers with the towering TBR piles (you know who you are) to start tackling the books that have been languishing in there for eons.
Book: Murder with Peacocks (cosy mystery) – excerpt here
Author: Donna Andrews
Copyright Date: 1999
Why did I buy this book? I’m always on the lookout for new cosy mysteries.
Why did it sit in my TBR pile for so long? Because my last couple of impulse buys in this subgenre have been, well, shall we say more miss than hit? But I read the anthology “Unusual Suspects” a couple of weeks ago, liked Donna Andrews’ contribution, looked her up and realised that she wrote cosy mysteries. So I made a mental note to check out her books, then thought a bit harder, and delved into the depths of my TBR pile. Sure enough, Ms Andrews’ “Murder with Peacocks” was there.
What is it about? Meg Langslow is going to have a rather busy summer, she’s maid of honour for three weddings – her mum’s, best friend’s, and sister-in-law-to-be’s. She heads back to her hometown to help organise the weddings, and finds herself involved in a series of possible homicides and near-fatal accidents.
So what did I think of it? This book won the Agatha Award for Best First Novel back when it first came out, according to the front cover. So after enjoying her short story in “Unusual Suspects” and seeing that award, it’s probably fair to say I had rather high expectations for this one.
Unusually for a cosy mystery, there isn’t much focus on Meg’s profession – she’s an ornamental blacksmith, but seeing she takes the summer off, I suppose there wasn’t much scope for exploring the ins and outs of blacksmithing. The focus instead is very much on wedding preparations together with Meg’s family and friends. Her hometown is populated with a whole cast of eccentric characters, of which her family are probably the craziest. It’s not quite slapstick, but close to it, and sometimes it worked for me, and other times it didn’t.
I thought the pacing was too slow at the beginning, though it picked up once the first murder occurred. The trying-to-throw-suspicion-on-everyone conversations were slightly boring, mainly because a lot of suspects just didn’t feel plausible. Meg doesn’t really play amateur sleuth in this one – it’s her dad that takes up the investigation with gusto, and Meg just gets dragged into his various madcap schemes.
Character-wise, I liked Meg, but I felt as though she was rather doormat-ish in the way she just agreed to do everything for the three brides-to-be. I mean, she was doing them a favour in the first place. If it had been me, I’d told them exactly where to get off. And there could have been a tad bit more chemistry between Meg and her romantic interest. I wasn’t really feeling the attraction on her part nor the frustration on his part. Having said that, I did like their blossoming relationship, and the ending made me want to read the next book.
My conclusion? I’m wondering whether my OCD-ish need to start series from the beginning means that I start with books where the author hasn’t really hit his or her stride yet. Despite my issues with this book, I thought there was some promise here, so I’m planning on picking up more books in this series. B- for me.