by Donna Andrews
Series: Meg Langslow #27
Publication Date: October 16, 2020
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
27 books and I don’t think Andrews has written a bad one yet. The only books in this series that I enjoy less than the others are the ones with settings that aren’t typically my jam.
This is one of those books. The story takes place at a Renaissance Fair being hosted by Meg’s grandmother during summer weekends at the Craft School she owns and runs. Ren Fairs aren’t my thing; I had a brief fling with them as a teen-ager, but you have to be seriously invested to get into a Ren Fair in Florida’s heat and humidity, and I enjoyed the arts and crafts more than the food and the role-playing.
Still, the Red Fair as envisaged by Andrews sounds like a pretty good time: actors that do a daily improve around a loose plot involving the heir to the throne of their fictitious kingdom of Albion. Unfortunately, their nefarious villain takes his job a little too much to heart, and is on the verge of termination for harassment when he’s found dead in the woods outside the fairgrounds, murdered.
What follows is a well-plotted mystery, as Meg and her family assist the police with their investigations while continuing to run the fair. The mystery of who murdered Terrance wasn’t obvious, but it wasn’t a shock either, though Andrews does a pretty good job with clues and misdirection.
Meg is an inspiration to me, not only as the most realistically organised character I’ve ever read, but also the most unflappable. She is so capable that just reading about her makes me feel more capable by osmosis. And her family never, ever fails to delight; the more of them that are present in a story, the more delighted I am.
I keep expecting a flop, to be honest; statistically speaking, it’s a reasonable expectation, but so far Donna Andrews’ well of imaginative stories has not drawn low, and I sincerely hope it never does. I need to be reminded – at least once a year, if not more often in these horrific times – that strong, capable, unflappable, rational men and women (especially women in Meg’s world) exist, even if only on the page.
I read this for my Cozy Mystery square for Halloween Bingo 2020.