Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Revenge of the Wrought-Iron Flamingos, Donna Andrews

Revenge of the Wrought-Iron Flamingos
Donna Andrews

So there's this flamingo thing in my life. I have to write up the story at some point, but suffice it to say that there is a flamingo collection that follows me around. It's not that big - perhaps 30 specimens, mostly of the plush toy variety - and most of the time it's in a box to keep it out of the way, but it's real and various people know about it. In fact, I bought only two members of the collection. The rest were given to me by others, mostly co-workers at various jobs.

In any event, through an odd set of circumstances that I inflicted upon myself, some good friends in the neighborhood learned about my flamingo collection and gave me this book, based purely on the title, I assume.

Now that I've read it I can tell you a bit about it. It's a murder mystery (and those who've read my reviews here before will note that isn't my favorite genre) set at a craft fair and historic battle reenactment in Virginia. I guess it's also supposed to be a comedy, though to be honest I don't recall laughing much while I read it.

The main character - Meg Langslow - winds up as both a suspect in and the solver of a murder. There is the usual cast of characters - many of whom are suspects - and the incompetent cop who needs help solving the case.

Frankly it seemed a bit formulaic, and clearly the author has a pattern going. Her book titles in this series (at least those featuring Meg Langslow) include: "The Penguin Who Knew Too Much", "Cockatiels at Seven", "Murder With Puffins", and so on. There are more, but I'm sure you get the idea.

Of more interest to me was the craft fair scene. I've done shows like that, and I know a couple of iron workers as well. Not only that but some of the other things relating to the plot revolved around software in one way or another. I'm afraid I don't have any interest in the reenactment thing, but other than that I'm a pretty good stand in for Meg in terms of background and experience.

In the end, I think she got much of the fair right. She did mangle a couple of details, but that's minor. I don't think her understanding of the software issues is all that good, alas. And I'm even less sure about her descriptions of the police work at the scene, but there we're outside my area of expertise.

Still, if you take it as a light hearted read, it's OK. Maybe someone like Ed would know more about the murder mystery side of it and could tell me if it's any good or not. Her books get pretty high marks in amazon.com's reviews.