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Literature / Meg Langslow Mysteries

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The Meg Langslow Mysteries are a series of comedic mystery novels written by Donna Andrews. Similar to the Stephanie Plum novels, each features a murder mystery with a heavy dose of humor in the story. Each also features bird-related antics, with these taking a greater role in the plot of some of the novels in the series than others.

To date, the following titles in the series have been either been published or are scheduled:

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  • Murder with Peacocks
  • Murder with Puffins
  • Revenge of the Wrought Iron Flamingos
  • Crouching Buzzard, Leaping Loon
  • We'll Always Have Parrots
  • Owls Well That Ends Well
  • No Nest for the Wicket
  • The Penguin Who Knew Too Much
  • Cockatiels at Seven
  • Six Geese A-Slaying
  • Swan For The Money
  • Stork Raving Mad
  • The Real Macaw
  • Some Like It Hawk
  • The Hen of the Baskervilles
  • Duck the Halls
  • The Good, the Bad and the Emus
  • The Nightingale Before Christmas
  • Lord of the Wings
  • Die Like an Eagle
  • Gone Gull
  • How The Finch Stole Christmas!
  • Toucan Keep a Secret

  • A Murder Hatched (Compilation containing Murder with Peacocks and Murder with Puffins)
  • Night Shades (Short story available in an anthology)
  • Birthday Dinner (Short story available in an anthology)

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The Meg Langslow Mysteries provide examples of the following:

  • An Ass-Kicking Christmas: Four Christmas Episode books so far, with festive preparations seamlessly mixed with murder investigations.
  • Beware of Vicious Dog: Spike - Meg Langslow's dog that her mother-in-law forces on her after she turns out to be allergic to him. He turns out to be surprisingly gentle toward and protective of Meg's children once they're born, though.
  • Blackmail: The plot of Crouching Buzzard, Leaping Loon focuses on figuring out who killed Ted, an office practical joker who had secretly compiled a blackmail list and was managing to dig up dirt of some sort on just about everyone at the office of Mutant Wizards, the computer game company founded by Meg's brother Rob.
  • Censorship by Spelling: Meg and her family do this when discussing sensitive topics in earshot of Meg's twins in Hen of the Baskervilles. At one point, they spell out i-c-e c-r-e-a-m, only for one of the twins to immediately start babbling about ice cream, but Meg assures the others that the twins are always asking for "ice cream" and it doesn't mean that they're learning to spell.
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  • Characterisation Marches On: Most of Meg's relatives who are portrayed as bumbling wannabes who try too hard in the earlier books become actually good at their chosen jobs/hobbies in the later ones, (even when they have their own methods.) Most notably her mother's attempts at interior decoration actually becoming classy and more or less within the budget, and her dad becoming an actual medical examiner for the police.
  • Coincidence Magnet: Meg and her relatives have an uncanny ability to turn just about anything into an over the top chaotic mess by their mere presence. Then take it in stride and sort it out (more or less.)
  • Comic-Book Time / Webcomic Time: precise dates and too detailed references to any current events are avoided, computers and cell phones have the capabilities they had when respective books were written, but from the ageing of the twins, less than ten years passed in the books for almost 20 years of Real Life, while most adult and senior characters apparently didn't age at all.
  • Famed In-Story: Although Meg herself is only locally famous, her brother (a video game designer) husband (a TV actor-turned-academic who played an Ensemble Dark Horse character in a Show Within a Show) and Dr. Blake (her long-lost grandfather and a host of wildlife documentaries) are famous enough to have their own in-universe fandoms.
  • Genius Ditz: Meg's brother Rob. He's clumsy, has no computer (or any) skills whatsoever, and no business sense. He's still somehow a video game design genius and has a prosperous company to prove it... Even if his actual involvement in the business should be carefully supervised.
  • Granola Girl: Rosenoire. And she's one of the more level-headed Meg's relatives...
  • Halloween Episode: Lord of the Wings is an entire book based around a Halloween festival in Caerphilly. Of course, the festival isn't complete without a couple of grisly murders and other dangerous incidents which Meg and her friends / family end up helping to investigate.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Each book features a bird of some sort in the title; all titles after Murder with Puffins also reference a popular saying, often one which is the title of a film. Within the books themselves, in Crouching Buzzard, Leaping Loon, Meg's brother has created a computer game called "Lawyers from Hell" and is now trying to spin off various clones such as "Cops from Hell," "Doctors from Hell" and "Veterinarians from Hell."
  • Insistent Terminology: A Running Gag in the series is Meg's mother and her cronies adopting some pretentious (and not always completely accurate) term for a mundane object.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: This happens in Hen of the Baskervilles when a body ends up splayed across the county line of Caerphilly County and Clay County. Clay County is very much unequipped to do a proper investigation of the murder, but wants jurisdiction anyway. Meg and the Caerphilly County police chief manage to convince them to give Clay County to give the case to them by insinuating that the cost of the investigation will be astronomical, though Clay County still insists on having one of their people on the case as an observer, who turns out to be an interfering idiot. The twist in this case is that he's not simply an interfering idiot, he also happens to be the murderer.
  • Like Reality Unless Noted: The books seem to take place more-or-less in the real world, with reference to real world television series such as Thomas the Tank Engine, but are set in the fictional town of Caerphilly, Virginia
    • Although most of the wildlife descriptions and factoids throughout the books are reasonably accurate, the gull species Dr. Blake is trying to find in Gone Gull appear to be entirely fictional, and would have been a major discovery in Real Life.
  • Morally Bankrupt Banker: The "Evil Lender," First Progressive Financial, in The Real Macaw and Some Like It Hawk. One of the darker and probably the most murderous Big Bad in the series.
  • Mystery Magnet: Meg Langslow
  • Never Suicide
  • Pregnant Badass: Meg Langslow in Stork Raving Mad
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: The police chief may not like Meg (or anyone) meddling with his investigations, but he definitely appreciates any info and leads, no matter the source.
  • Saving the Orphanage: Let's see... Meg's neighbour's farm, her own farm, a zoo, an animal shelter, all the town government buildings all needed rescuing at some point.
  • Title Drop: With the name of the book in "Some Like It Hawk," as the name of a service that provides a hawk to chase away nuisance pigeons
  • Who Murdered the Asshole?: A significant proportion of the plots, but not so significant that it becomes formulaic.
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