by Donna Andrews
Series: Meg Langslow #31
Publication Date: August 2, 2022
Genre: Fiction, Mystery
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Kevin, Meg's cyber-savvy nephew who lives in the basement, comes to her with a problem. He's become involved as the techie for a true-crime podcast, one that focuses on Virginia cold cases and unsolved crimes. And he thinks their podcast has hit a nerve with someone . . . one of the podcast team has had a brush with death that Kevin thinks was an attempted murder, not an accident.
Kevin rather sheepishly asks for Meg's help in checking out the people involved in a couple of the cases. "Given your ability to find out stuff online, why do you need MY help?" she asks. "Um . . . because I've already done everything I can online. This'll take going around and TALKING to people," he exclaims, with visible horror. "In person!" Not his thing. And no, it can't wait until after the wedding, because he's afraid whoever's after them might take advantage of the chaos of the wedding at Trinity or the reception at Meg and Michael's house to strike again.
So on top of everything she's doing to round up vendors and supplies and take care of demanding out-of-town guests, Meg must hunt down the surviving suspects from three relatively local cold cases so she can figure out if they have it in for the podcasters. Could there be a connection to a musician on the brink of stardom who disappeared two decades ago and hasn't been seen since?
I’m giving this one the benefit of doubt at 4 stars because I went into it with reservations. As the title implies, this mystery is sort of an homage to the first in the series, Murder with Peacocks, which I loved – and I rarely enjoy attempts at revisiting the well.
Fortunately the homage is more like just a light breeze of familiarity that wafts through the story, as Meg helps her nephew Kevin with his true crime podcast, reviewing several old cold cases in an attempt to figure out who has it in for Kevin and his co-host. This structure works well, as it keeps Meg busy and the reader from getting bored. In the background is the preparation for the wedding to end all weddings, with the running gag that everyone is trying to avoid Meg’s mom so they aren’t put to work.
Of course Meg solves the cold cases, and here’s the one area that stretches believability because she solves all of them. I sort of feel like the story would have worked better had one of the cases been left unanswered; as it stands, everything is wrapped up too neatly at the end, even for a cozy. Although it was somehow satisfying to see everything tied up neatly, even if it felt over the top.
I read this for Halloween Bingo 2022 for the Cozy Mystery square. When Carlito was a young teen kitten, I caught a picture of him I can’t resist including here, because it’s his version of the Cozy Mystery Square cover: