Gift of the Magpie

by Donna Andrews

Kirkus Ornamental blacksmith/general do-gooder Meg Langslow’s Christmas activities entangle her with a fellow resident of Caerphilly, Virginia, whose domestic life is even more chaotic than hers. Unlike Meg, who’s surrounded by members of her own cheerfully argumentative family as well as the Shiffleys, Caerphilly’s somewhat more benign version of the Snopeses, Harvey Dunlop has chosen to surround himself with stuff—objects of dubious value he can’t bring himself to throw out. So Meg, her friend Caroline Willner, Meredith Flugleman of Adult Protective Services, and other concerned members of Helping Hands for the Holidays have banded together to strong-arm, er, help and encourage him to go through his house with a shovel and relocate his treasures to an empty building Randall Shiffley owns in the hope of deep-cleaning the house and then urging Harvey to move on without moving his prized junk back in. Except for the unwelcome appearance of Morris, Ernest, and Josephine Haverhill, the cousins who seem to be Harvey’s only living relatives, the preliminaries go well. But when Meg shows up at Harvey’s for the main event in the decluttering marathon, her host is unresponsive, brained with a spittoon in his garage. As Harvey hovers between life and death, Meg plunges into his family history to uncover a motive for the murderous attack. Readers patient enough to wait for any mystery, or for that matter any significant conflict, to develop will be rewarded when their own suspicions about whodunit are proved exactly right. Andrews lays on the good cheer with a trowel. Even the rabbi’s wife gets a cameo. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Kirkus Ornamental blacksmith/general do-gooder Meg Langslows Christmas activities entangle her with a fellow resident of Caerphilly, Virginia, whose domestic life is even more chaotic than hers.Unlike Meg, whos surrounded by members of her own cheerfully argumentative family as well as the Shiffleys, Caerphillys somewhat more benign version of the Snopeses, Harvey Dunlop has chosen to surround himself with stuffobjects of dubious value he cant bring himself to throw out. So Meg, her friend Caroline Willner, Meredith Flugleman of Adult Protective Services, and other concerned members of Helping Hands for the Holidays have banded together to strong-arm, er, help and encourage him to go through his house with a shovel and relocate his treasures to an empty building Randall Shiffley owns in the hope of deep-cleaning the house and then urging Harvey to move on without moving his prized junk back in. Except for the unwelcome appearance of Morris, Ernest, and Josephine Haverhill, the cousins who seem to be Harveys only living relatives, the preliminaries go well. But when Meg shows up at Harveys for the main event in the decluttering marathon, her host is unresponsive, brained with a spittoon in his garage. As Harvey hovers between life and death, Meg plunges into his family history to uncover a motive for the murderous attack. Readers patient enough to wait for any mystery, or for that matter any significant conflict, to develop will be rewarded when their own suspicions about whodunit are proved exactly right.Andrews lays on the good cheer with a trowel. Even the rabbis wife gets a cameo. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Publishers Weekly The Christmas spirit suffuses bestseller Andrews’s atmospheric 28th Meg Langslow mystery (after The Falcon Always Rings Twice). During the holiday season, Meg is the project manager for Helping Hands, “a sort of Make-A-Wish program for grownups,” in Caerphilly, Va. Her volunteers step in to assist citizens with anything that needs doing, including sourcing organic manure and rounding up experienced quilters. The main task at the moment is helping Harvey Dunlop (aka Harvey the Hoarder). Harvey’s conniving cousins and rapacious neighbors have filed complaints with the town council about the unkempt appearance of his home. It falls to Meg and her crew to declutter and repair the property. After only one day of packing up debris and possible treasure, Meg arrives to find Harvey lying in a pool of blood on his garage floor. He’s rushed to the hospital, where he’s declared dead. Never mind the slight murder investigation that ensues. Caerphilly, with its endearing residents, is the kind of place every cozy fan would like to escape to during stressful times. Andrews consistently entertains. Agent: Ellen Geiger, Frances Goldin Literary. (Oct.)

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Book list With Christmas fast approaching, Meg Langslow’s house is full of visiting relatives, and she is in charge of Caerphilly’s Helping Hands for the Holidays, where neighbors volunteer to help those who need assistance with projects, from building a handicapped ramp to finishing a quilt. Their biggest challenge to date is to declutter hoarder Harvey Dunlop’s home before the authorities move in in response to the complaints from his neighbors and the feigned concern of his cousins. The project is progressing well when Meg finds Harvey in his garage, badly injured. Meg and the other volunteers are saddened when Harvey dies, convinced he was in the process of turning his life around. Suspects include Harvey’s neighbors, his cousins, and a woman who claims to be Harvey’s girlfriend. Meg assists Chief Burke with his investigation, and, with the support of friends and family, she uncovers the killer. Framed by the warmth of the holiday season, this satisfying entry in the long-running cozy series delights with humor, familiar quirky characters, and a Christmas miracle.

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

Book list With Christmas fast approaching, Meg Langslow’s house is full of visiting relatives, and she is in charge of Caerphilly’s Helping Hands for the Holidays, where neighbors volunteer to help those who need assistance with projects, from building a handicapped ramp to finishing a quilt. Their biggest challenge to date is to declutter hoarder Harvey Dunlop’s home before the authorities move in in response to the complaints from his neighbors and the feigned concern of his cousins. The project is progressing well when Meg finds Harvey in his garage, badly injured. Meg and the other volunteers are saddened when Harvey dies, convinced he was in the process of turning his life around. Suspects include Harvey’s neighbors, his cousins, and a woman who claims to be Harvey’s girlfriend. Meg assists Chief Burke with his investigation, and, with the support of friends and family, she uncovers the killer. Framed by the warmth of the holiday season, this satisfying entry in the long-running cozy series delights with humor, familiar quirky characters, and a Christmas miracle.

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

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