I have finished the 147th book for the book challenge. It was Murder With Peacocks: (Meg Langslow Mysteries) by Donna Andrews.
Meg Langslow, who works with iron, is taking a break this summer and is coordinating three weddings as the maid of honor for her best friend Eileen, her future sister-in-law Samantha, and her mother. So she is in Yorktown for the summer.
She meet Michael, the son of the owner of Be-Stitched, the seamtress shop where the gowns are being made. He lives nearby and he becomes her partner for the summer. Everyone thinks he is gay because he turned down propositions from Samantha’s bridesmaids.
Meg’s mother is marrying Jake Wendell, whose wife Emma died from cancer last year. The wife’s sister has come to visit. Her name is Mrs. Grover and she is an unpleasant woman. She has alienated virtually everyone at a party thrown in her honor. But Meg’s dad offers to take her birdwatching. When she doesn’t show up, he wonders where she is. Meg later discovers her body on the beach below the bluff. Meg’s dad does some experiment to see if she fell from the bluff (nope), or if her body was carried there on the currents from the river (also nope). The conclusion is that she was hit over the head and then carried there. She was murdered and then left there.
Then strange things start to happen. The fuse box at Meg’s house is tampered with and the electrician who comes to fix it nearly dies. A jack-in-the-box is left for Meg at the front door and it has a bomb in it. Then the salsa at Samantha’s bridal shower is poisoned and everyone is made ill, but it is meant for Meg’s dad who usually eats a bowl of it himself.
Meg orders peacocks for Samantha’s wedding and for her mother’s wedding from a farm nearby. They arrive and she keeps them in her parents’ yard.
Then more tragic events occur. Meg’s dad’s ride on lawn mower is tampered with and the boy who is riding it is killed when it goes over the bluff. The brakes on her dad’s car are tampered with and his car goes out of control but no one is hurt.
Eileen’s wedding goes off without any problems except it is hotter than hell and everyone is wearing velvet. Even the odious Barry is well behaved.
Then comes the rehearsal dinner for Samantha’s wedding. The Reverend Pugh is found face down in the caviar. He has been poisoned. The caviar had poison in it from Meg’s dad’s garden. Another death. Meanwhile, Meg’s dad had her go into Jake’s house and take Emma’s ashes and he has had them analyzed. She substituted her Great Aunt Sophy’s ashes and Jake had dumped them in the river one night. Very suspicious.
Samantha’s and Rob’s wedding takes place, complete with peacocks. The reception is held at Samantha’s parents’ home. Samantha is supposed to be changing to go on the honeymoon with Rob but instead she runs off with one of the groomsmen to the Cayman Islands with money her former fiancé embezzled. In her room, the Sheriff finds materials about poisons and fuse boxes and lawn mowers and cars. They want to arrest her for murder. But Meg feels it isn’t right.
Meg’s dad has planned a surprise for her mother’s wedding. He has ordered Spanish moss to hang from the trees in their back yard because she loves Spanish moss. Meg keeps her mother out on errands and has a brainstorm while she is out. She knows how Mrs. Grover’s murder was committed. At the wedding the next day, when the minister asked if anyone knows why these people should not be married, Meg’s dad speaks up. He says that Jake killed his wife and he doesn’t want Meg’s mother to be next. Jake takes Meg hostage with a gun. The sheriff is called. Meg explains how Jake killed his wife and stuffed her in a storage locker and then put her in the trunk of his car until he could take her to the beach. He has been doing all the tampering and planted the materials in Samantha’s room. The peacocks fly down and land on Jake and startle him and he lets Meg go and the sheriff tackles Jake and captures him. Since the minister is there, Meg’s mother and dad remarry.
This was a fun story. Meg and Michael finally end up together but unfortunately when they go back to Michael’s house, they find that his mother has come home. Something always seems to come up to keep them apart. Meg was right to not feel good about Jake. And she was right to not feel good about Samantha. But all’s well that ends well. It was a good read.