Book Review: Gone Gull by Donna Andrews

Posted September 1, 2017 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 0 Comments

Book Review: Gone Gull by Donna Andrews

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Gone Gull Series: Meg Langslow #21
Genres: Humorous, Amateur Sleuth, Mystery, Cozy
Published by Minotaur Books on August 1, 2017
Pages: 320
Format: Hardcover
Source: the library

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Also in this series: The Hen of the Baskervilles, Duck the Halls, Lark! The Herald Angels Sing, The Gift of the Magpie

Twenty-first in the Meg Langslow funny, cozy, amateur sleuth mystery series and revolving around a blacksmith and her very extended family. Usually set in Caerphilly (York Town), Virginia, Andrews has gone into the Blue Ridge Mountains for this one.

My Take

I do enjoy the Meg Langslow mysteries. She has such a supportive family with a wide range of useful skills, especially Mother’s, lol. They’re split between total characters to salt-of-the-earth and will make you laugh. It does make sense, since Meg Langslow is a character-driven series with a lot of warmth.

Using first-person protagonist point-of-view enables us to “view” the scene from the organized and practical Meg’s perspective. An absolute sweetheart, she worries about everyone, but without being too protective.

This is not one of Andrews’ best stories, but it does showcase the respect in which Meg and Cordelia are held. I gotta love a woman who brings such class (and respect) to her guests. It makes me want to sign up for a summer of classes.

Andrews strews the red herrings all over the place. Thank god Marty didn’t have access to any for that compost…*shudder*… As for that little extra lagniappe about the feud between town and county and Mary Margaret’s new role as the birder’s babysitter…? Too funny. And sounds like real life.

The primary events in Gone Gull are Cordelia’s new venture with everyone chipping in to make it a success, and Grandfather’s obsession with those once-thought extinct gulls. Just to make it interesting, the story cast of characters is quite eclectic (they are artists, after all) and range from wonderful to horrible.

The Story

Grandmother Cordelia has started up a crafts center with some excellent teachers…once Meg gave the go-ahead. But someone (or someones!) are sabotaging the opening with acts of vandalism…and murder.

There are no end of suspects from developers and rivals to fellow artists intent on revenge to Grandfather’s enemies.

The mystery is whether they can solve it all before the paying guests flee and the center dies an early death.

The Characters

Meg Langslow is a blacksmith married to Michael Waterston, a drama professor at Caerphilly College. They have twin sons, eight year olds, Josh and Jamie. Spike is the Small Evil One, a canine ball of fur with teeth and a bad temper. Dad is a doctor with a fascination for murder, mystery, and forensics. Mother is too classy for words and could out-general any military man. Rob is Meg’s brother with a very successful gaming company, Mutant Wizards, but he’s not a computer whiz.

Rose Noire is the metaphysical, herb-loving, yoga-savvy cousin. Eric MacReady is a babysitting nephew who is also interning with Michael. Kevin, Eric’s older brother, is a computer whiz. Grandfather, a.k.a., “Great-great”, is a famous zoologist and environmentalist. Cousin Horace is in forensics. Jason, Cousin Lydia’s son, is a Navy SEAL, and Lance is a career Marine who has opened a gym/mixed martial arts studio. Festus Hollingsworth is an attorney cousin.

Caroline Willner runs the Willner Wildlife Refuge and is dating Grandfather. She’s the owner of the gypsy caravan where the boys are sleeping with the Small Evil One.

The Biscuit Mountain Craft Center is…
…in Riverton in the Blue Ridge Mountains, which is part of the Appalachian Trail in Virginia. Cordelia Mason, Meg’s grandmother, is the owner, a.k.a., “The Duchess”. The temperamental Marty is the so-very excellent cook. Cousin Mary Margaret is the acting chatelaine for Cordelia’s Victorian which has been temporarily turned into a B&B to handle the overflow.

The teachers include Amanda Walker, a friend of Meg’s and a weaver. Grandfather and Baptiste Deshommes, Grandfather’s staff nature photographer and friend, are teaching a nature photography class. Michael is teaching a children’s theater class. Gillian Marks is the pottery instructor. Valerian Eads teaches leatherworking. The snooty Edward Prine is teaching acrylics and oils and doesn’t understand the difference between flirting and sexual harassment. Peggy Tanaka is teaching jewelry-making. Dante Marino is the woodworker.

Francesca “Frankie” Zambrano will teach art. Mother, Kevin, Dad, and Horace will teach later in the summer. Phil Santiago taught jewelry in the previous session.

The students include the annoying and flighty Victor, Irma Venable is a sneaky, lying birdwatcher, Misty, Jenni Santo is sneaking out, and the “Slacker” switches from class to class without doing anything.

Law enforcement
Mo Heedles is the chief of the Riverton PD and respects Meg. Officer Lesley Keech is the only one of her officers with some crime scene training. Sergeant Abel Hampton is with the Virginia State Police. Vern Shiffley is a deputy in Caerphilly. Stanley Denton is a private investigator based in Caerphilly. Joe Radditch is a private detective Stanley knows.

Smith Enterprises is owned by a developer, Charles Rahn, who wants to buy Cordelia’s land. Jazz Hands Art Academy is a rival craft center owned by Calvin Whiffletree. E. Willis Jasperson, Esq., is not much respected as a lawyer. The Dock Street Craft Collective was a mistake.

The Cover and Title

The background of the cover is a gradated green from grass to deep, bottom to top. The text is a combination of sans-serif and serif with the major text embossed. The author’s name is at the top in a serif white while the title is slightly askew and centered in yellow with the series information in white, tiny white, below that.

The title is about Grandfather and his obsession with the natural world, for he’s Gone Gull.

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