Imagine this: two days before Christmas, a small Virginia town is forming up for its annual Christmas parade. This year's theme is The Twelve Days of Christmas, and so twelve drummers and eleven pipers are trying to out-noise each other, various people in costume are roaming around (including thirty-seven members of the local birdwatching/conservation club dressed as Canada geese), there are animals everywhere--including two elephants, three camels, and a herd of sheep--On the Nativity float, a very pregnant young woman who is portraying the Virgin Mary is going into labor. A third-rate stringer from a Washington DC newspaper is hassling everyone, most notably Mistress of Revels Meg Langslow.
And then, just when it seems all will finally settle down and the parade will get off to a peaceful and successful start, two Boy Scouts (assigned to clean up behind the elephants) run up to Meg, eyes wide, breathless, to announce they just found Santa in a shed where he had gone to get into costume--dead.
Dead he is, with a stake of holly shoved through his heart.
And so begins Donna Andrews's Christmas cozy, Six Geese A-Slaying.
The series began with Murder with Peacocks, and presently runs to ten volumes. Six Geese A-Slaying was published in 2008.
Complications abound throughout the opening chapters as Meg tries to get the parade ready to roll, but a dead (MURDERED) Santa is just about the last straw. The dead man is, as is usual in cozies, the most loathed man in town, Ralph Doleson, a truly unfit choice to play Santa; unfortunately, he's the only one in town who will fit into the suit, bought years earlier by the city council, who refuse pointblank to buy a new one and appoint a new Santa.
At first Meg--influenced by her college-professor (and still new) husband Michael, who's rehearsing for a one-man show of A Christmas Carol--thinks there's a Dickens connection. But as she digs deeper, offering her amateur but competent help to the police, she finds that it's not a hatred of Santa that got Doleson killed--it's his activities as a blackmailer. And his vic list is extensive.
Donna Andrews writes in a style reminiscent of Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series, so events unfold in excruciatingly funny detail until the denouement, when Doleson's killer kidnaps Meg and her injured brother Rob. He's foiled in his attempt, of course, but even that unfolds in hilarity.
If you're in the mood for a lighthearted mystery, I recommend this one.
As for me, I'll be somewhere in a corner with a book.
6 years ago