Monday, February 4

Revenge of the Wrought Iron Flamingos – Donna Andrews

Blacksmith Meg Langstow’s allowed herself to participate in Yorktown’s annual civil war reenactment, running a booth with her wares. Usually a fun and light-hearted occasion, the involvement of boyfriend Michael’s overbearing mother has forced an unnaturally rigid constraint on the event – Time Police patrol the ground, handing out fines for anyone possessing or interacting with anachronisms (even when the items, like Meg’s iron nails, aren’t anachronistic at all). While Michael enjoys himself enormously as a Frech soldier, Meg has to hide her stunningly anachronistic, hot pink flamingos (commissioned specially and at a high mark up to compensate for the psychic pain involved in their creation) from Mrs Waterston and the Time Police, derail annoying would-be journalist cousin Wesley, and discover if Roger Benson, the man her brother’s entrusted his carefully-honed computer game concept to, is indeed a crook. When Roger’s found murdered, in Meg’s tent, apparently stabbed with one of her flamingos, and the deputy running the case proves beyond doubt to be an idiot apt to pop suspects in prison for no reason, Meg knows whe has to intervene. Her family, unsurprisingly, are keen to take it in turns to be increasingly likely suspects.
In Flamingos I found the quirkiness and joy that I found in Murder with Peacocks but found missing in its sequel. Series with amateur detectives can stretch the limits of probablility but so far Andrews has managed to make her settings and secondary cast different and extensive enough that she's avoided this pitfall. Not every detail of the central character's romance needs to be discussed, which is pleasant, and Meg's family are still delightful. Most importantly, I like Meg herself, and I think that's the key to my enjoyment of the series overall - she's smart, funny, insightful, confident, capable and talented. I'm giving up on Andrew's other series but embracing this one wholeheartedly. - Alex

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