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by Donna Andrews
St Martin's Minotaur, August 2007
262 pages
ISBN: 0312329423

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

You have to be in the right mood to read a Meg Langslow mystery. If youíre not, the bubbling brew of crazy coincidences, bizarre birds, and frenetic family and friends could grate. On the other hand, Andrews has a deft hand with her outrageous humor; having an Andrews in my review queue was a bright spot in a bad week.

Thereís always a bird in this series. In this case, it's a homeless flock of penguins Ė Meg comes to the house that she and her fiancť Michael have recently bought to find her father digging up the basement to put in a pool for the penguins he offered to foster from a local zoo. If that wasnít bad enough, his excavations uncover a body. A recently murdered body with the crossbow bolt still sticking out of it.

When the body turns out to be the zookeeper, other animal fosterers start showing up to drop off their charges as well. The penguins, llamas, and assorted antelopes all seem to be fine, but the monkeys, hyenas, and wolves are proving to be a bit more challenging. Especially since the arrival of the animals also means the arrival of a famous zoologist who isn't much help in animal wrangling. Plus, the Save Our Beasts (work out the acronym) group that had been protesting at the zoo simply moves to the animalsí new quarters.

Meg isnít so much investigating as trapped between family members making pets of the animals, a claustrophobic medical examiner, and the discovery that a member of her contractorís family has already gotten in trouble for accidentally shooting a dik-dik while on a deer hunt Ė a crossbow deer hunt.

The medical examiner is a bit odd for even a Langslow mystery and the solution to the puzzle doesnít take that long to figure out. But itís the journey, not the destination, in these books. Some very large twists are made in the characters' lives, opening up new avenues for future books. And because the insanity is always well balanced by the sane and sensible Meg and Michael, things donít head over the top.

THE PENGUIN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH is worth it for Langslow and Andrews fans, although it isnít really the best book to start with if youíre not familiar with the series.

Reviewed by Linnea Dodson, June 2007

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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