This is the latest in the hilariously fun Meg Langslow mystery series, all of which are named after birds (the first is Murder With Peacocks, but others include: Revenge of the Wrought Iron Flamingos, We'll Always Have Parrots, Crouching Buzzard, Leaping Loon, Stork Raving Mad, Some Like it Hawk, The Hen of the Baskervilles, and the soon to come out, Lord of the Wings). Meg is a blacksmith who lives in a small college town in Caerfiily, with her husband, a drama professor at the college, their two children, her parents who live next door (including her "retired" father a doctor who is obsessed with mysteries and in solving any murder that happens in their area and her mother a classy woman with excellent tastes, that do not always agree with Meg's idea of decoration). In their large house on a farm they bought, they have found various family members living with them, including Rose Noir, a vegetarian who makes things with herbs and such to give away and sell and her brother Rob, who passed the bar, but never wanted to be a lawyer, but created a killer game about lawyers, that his company, that is wisely run by someone else, has made him a lot of money and Rob has continued to create more successful games). They also live with many farm animals and two dogs: a small dog named Spike, who is extremely viscious and people avoid, and Rob's Irish Setter, who may be sweet, but is so large and has been taught to jump on people, that some are scared of her too. Meg also has a great many family members on her mother's side that are hard to keep track of, and frankly remind me of a friend of mine, who is also from Virginia and has a large extended family. If you need anything done, there is always someone in the family who can.
A few books back, Meg's father found out that the famous animal rescuer and television star, Dr. Blake is his father. In this book, Blake has hired a PI to find the woman who fathered the child he never knew about and could not find after he had to go on a quick trip to the Galapolyis Islands. Meg is said to look exactly like her. The PI has found a woman, Annabel, living an hour away, who is the cousin of the woman, Cordelia, whom he thinks is Meg's grandmother. A recluse, she only agrees to meet with Meg if she helps to solve the murder of her cousin, six months ago. She believes it is their evil neighbor, but other suspects soon begin to turn up, when Dr. Blake finds about the wild Emus living in the area, who were released into the wild by their owner, a rancher who could not make a go of it. These Emus are causing problems for the town and people are starting to shoot them, so Blake, with his followers and cameras, arrive to make a rescue. Then, someone gives Blake a poisoned bottle of scotch that he gives to another man, who almost dies from drinking it. But that is not the last victim.
Meg soon finds herself becoming close to Annabel, even though she is slightly resentful that her grandmother lived so close by, but never got in contact with them and now she is dead, while Annabel is still alive. Cordelia was interested in buying back the farmland they had sold and create a pottery and art studio and place for artists to sell their wares, but she is not the only one interested in that property. She had it checked for mining perposes by an environmentalist who said it would be a disaster and not worth it for the minerals inside to go through with. However, others would like to open a mine there and just might do anything to have that happen.
While Meg begins to suspect that one of the voluteers who came with her grandfather to help with the emu rescue may be the killer, she cannot figure out why.
I do not think that there can ever be enough books about anything and I say that knowing that some of them are going to be about Pilates.The more knowledge the better seems like a solid rule of thumb, even though I have watched enough science fiction films to accept that humanity’s unchecked pursuit of learning will end with robots taking over the world.-Sarah Vowell