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by Donna Andrews
Thomas Dunne Books, August 2006
259 pages
ISBN: 0312329407

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

The latest in the enjoyable Meg Langslow series, NO NEST FOR THE WICKET starts with Meg playing a game of Extreme Croquet with rules right out of Alice in Wonderland, complete with someone losing their head -- or more accurately, losing her life when a mallet crushes her skull.

It looks at first as if it was just a horrible accident, the sort of thing that might happen when someone wanders unexpectedly into a game where cows and sheep are considered wickets and hard wooden balls go flying for yards. But although at first nobody on either team claims to have the faintest idea who the unfortunate woman was, it turns out that many of them had dealings with her. Unpleasant dealings in every case, since she had been the sort of person who thrived on arguments and drama and held a grudge against the entire town. Even Meg's fiance Michael has an embarrassing history with her.

The plot is a little thinner than usual in this installment; the mystery is competent but rushed through. But then, the main charm in an Andrews book is the offbeat characterization; she is one of the few authors who can do quirky without it coming across as overly coy.

Meg's family provides much of the insanity. Her managing mother has a very small role, but her mystery-mad father is much in evidence, along with new-age cousin Rose Noire. Spike the homicidal little dog is used to great effect. In addition we have Mrs Pruitt and her ancestor-worshipping reverence for the Civil War soldier in her background, a trio of Morris-dancing students, the Shiffley family construction crew, and the Briggs couple, who want to build a mega-mall on the peaceful farm next door.

All in all, it's a fun, light read; it might not engage your brain, but it will certainly tickle your funnybone. Newcomers should find all they need to be able to follow along, while long-time fans will once more be amused by Meg's family and their predicaments.

Reviewed by Linnea Dodson, September 2006

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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