Swan for the Money
Minotaur, Aug 2009, $24.95
For once, Meg Langslow believes her parents have taken up a safe hobby that could not harm anyone. They are growing roses especially working on hybrids with a hope of creating a black version. Elated with their new pastime that is so safe, Meg agrees to organize the Caerphilly Garden Club first annual rose show.
The event is being held on the Winkleson estate because wealthy, influential but mean spirited Mrs. Winkleson wanted a home court advantage with everyone owing her favors and those who do not she bullies so she can win the Black Sawn Trophy. Meg goes to see the estate’s beautiful fenced in rose garden, but instead of beautiful blooming flowers, she finds a dead female contestant. Soon afterward, the hostess becomes unconscious after taking a drink. It looks like someone was trying to kill her using cyanide. Meg as usual snoops, but quickly finds everyone including servants, but especially the club members have strong motives to kill Mrs. Wilkerson.
Donna Andrews is highly regarded for her comedic often slapstick amateur sleuths (see SIX GEESE A-SLAYING); her latest is once again a hilarious whodunit as eccentricity, including Meg’s parents, runs rampart throughout the plot. The contestants are to say the least an unconventional crowd of oddballs, misfits, geeks, and hermits in which Ms. Andrews uses hyperbole to emphasis the diverse differences. Between protecting her out of control parents and dealing with belligerent club members, harried servants and sinister killer swans, Meg has her work cut out solving the rose garden murder.