Book Review: The Falcon Always Wings Twice by Donna Andrews

Posted August 26, 2020 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 2 Comments

Book Review: The Falcon Always Wings Twice 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.

The Falcon Always Wings Twice by Donna Andrews
Series: Meg Langslow #27
Genres: Mystery, Amateur Sleuth, Cozy
Published by Minotaur Books on August 4, 2020
Pages: 304
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

Also by this author: The Hen of the Baskervilles, Duck the Halls, The Nightingale Before Christmas, Die Like an Eagle, Gone Gull, How the Finch Stole Christmas!, Toucan Keep a Secret, Lark! The Herald Angels Sing, The Gift of the Magpie

Twenty-seventh (!!) in the Meg Langslow amateur sleuth cozy mystery series and revolving around Meg and her very extended family. This tale takes place in Riverton at a Renaissance Faire.

My Take

Ooh, there’s always something fun in the Meg Langslow stories. In this one, the core of the family characters is deeply involved in Cordelia’s Renaissance Faire, making it quite different from other Ren Faires. Of course, Cordelia involves the citizens of Riverton while Michael and Meg pull in friends. I dearly love how supportive Meg and Michael are with their friends. It’s a trait they’ve passed on to their sons, as they eagerly volunteer to help at the booth and with Faulk, coming up with some interesting angles on why two young kids are participating. I loved it!

Cordelia’s ideas for her Faire are wonderful, very creative. And she’s danged lucky to have Meg as a manager, keeping an eye out for anything that might go wrong.

It’s fascinating to “watch” Meg balance the various actors’ personalities and figure out the best character for them to play. It’s helpful that Andrews uses first person protagonist point-of-view from Meg’s perspective, so we always know what she’s thinking.

Grandfather is a crack-up. He’s so obsessed with his environmental and animal issues that he has no clue what a, ahem, “wren fest” is. I’m looking forward to future stories, as it sounds like Andrews is setting up a future romance between Cordelia and Grandfather. That’ll be fun to watch, lol.

Naturally, there’re birds in this, with Sir Greg explaining feaking and preening and how very unnatural Harry’s behavior is. There’s a sweet bit at the end when Greg explains the different levels of mastery and how he’s limited to caring for only three birds.

Meg’s booth provides fascinating background on women blacksmiths in days gone by, on metalcrafting, and on crafting blades. There’s also a good bit of drama surrounding Faulk, which plays into Tad’s later troubles. I love Tad’s green-screen idea, lol. It’s fooling his bully of a boss!

The core drama is character-driven action with Terence at the center of it all, being such a jerk to everyone in this slow and easy cozy mystery. An actor who doesn’t care about the faire’s plotline and is much more interested in stirring up drama, harassing the other actors…and indulging in blackmail.

The Story

Cordelia’s Renaissance Faire is a hit. Now if that one actor would stop sabotaging everyone, things would be perfect.

Only Meg didn’t mean dead.

The Characters

Meg Langslow is a blacksmith of decorative work with a love for organizing and a penchant for amateur sleuthing. Her husband, Professor Michael Waterston, teaches drama at Caerphilly College. They have twelve-year-old twin sons, Josh and Jamie. Spike, the Small Evil One, is their dog.

Meg’s brother, Rob, owns a computer gaming company. He’s also into Morris dancing. Kevin is a cyber-savvy cousin who runs the Faire’s website. The Hollingsworths are Mom’s side of the family.

While Grandfather (he runs the Blake Foundation and films documentaries in his role as a biologist and environmentalist) hadn’t married Cordelia, they did have Dad, Dr James Langslow, who is very enthusiastic about medicine and murder. Almost as enthusiastic as Grandfather and Cordelia are in hating each other. “Great” is the twins’ nickname for Grandfather. Meg’s mother works behind the scenes designing and supervising costume creation.

The Riverton Faire is…
…a Renaissance Faire owned and organized by Cordelia, Meg’s paternal grandmother, who had started the Biscuit Mountain Craft Center a few years ago and set up her Victorian house as a B&B. The Faire takes place Friday through Saturday.

The “story” the actors play out was created by Michael, a.k.a. the Duke of Waterston, and takes place in the kingdom of Albion with Cordelia as queen. Meg plays a lowly craftworker, a blacksmith of all things, *laughing*, and gives demonstrations of her craft along with her mentor, Faulkner “Faulk” Cates. Tad Jackson, Faulk’s husband, is a brilliant computer programmer. When he takes a work break, Tad becomes Sir Tadjik, the Moorish ambassador. Josh and Jamie are helping out at their mom’s blacksmithing booth as assistants, which turns out to be a blessing as events unroll.

Sir Terence is the archvillain and is played by Terence Cox who really is good at improvising Elizabethan dialogue, but he takes too much delight in sabotage. George Sims is playing Sir George of Simsdale, Michael’s arch-rival to inherit the kingdom.

Nigel Howe is a friend who has newly found sobriety, and the family is anxious for him. He performs as Sir Nigel whose daughter’s hand is vied for by all the noblemen; he works in the sewing studio during the week. Dianne Willowdale plays Lady Dianne, the daughter. Jacquelynn “Jacks” Morris plays Lady Jacquelynn.

Greg, a.k.a. Sir Greg Dorance, the Queen’s Own Falconer, is the senior member of the two-person falcon team who answers fairgoers’ questions. Vinnie is his partner. Gracie is a peregrine falcon while Harry is a lazy red-tailed hawk. Delilah is a one-winged red-tailed hawk that is Greg’s third bird.

Dad plays a Renaissance doctor and mans a first aid station. The vegetarian Rose Noire is a cousin deeply involved in organic herbs and teas and is selling her New Age wares at the festival. Cousin Horace is a Caerphilly deputy, crime scene tech, and EMT who is playing the part of a guard. Grandfather gets slid in as Magister Blake when he insists on playing.

Camp Anachronism is where the actors sleep. Madame Destiny is the fortuneteller. Granny Destiny plays the fortuneteller’s mother, adding color to the scene. The Muddy Beggar, a.k.a. Stanislaus W&ecedil;grzynkiewicz, provides color while staying off that knee that needs surgery so badly. The Bonny Blade sells cheap knives, etc. Linnet is a weaver at the Faire. Seamus is a leatherworker.

The Mad Monk is a nutjob fairgoer.

Riverton PD
Mo Heedles is the police chief, and she’s deputized Horace for her district. She’s assigned Lenny, one of her deputies, to play a guard at the Faire. Ashley is their dispatcher. Carlton is another deputy. Dad has worked with their local ME before. Judge Brown would be more at home in the 1850s or 1950s.

The deaf Mrs Larsen owns Den Lille Hytta (Norwegian for “The Little Cottage”), a B&B in Riverton.

The Arena Stage is…
…a theater in Washington D.C. The pushy Neil O’Malley is a infamous director casting for a new play of Hamlet. Michael can’t stand him, having worked under him before. Zachary Glass is a former teen heartthrob who may be playing the lead role.

Faulk’s dad disapproved of his choices. The ER in Jessop is to be avoided. Seth Early is one of the Waterstons’ neighbors whose sheep continually escape his fields. Dr Clarence Rutledge is the veterinarian Grandfather’s organization uses. Ragnar is a rock ‘n roll musician who has a house near Caerphilly, and he’s one of Meg’s best customers. Caroline Willner, one of Grandfather’s friends, runs the Willner Wildlife Sanctuary.

The Cover and Title

The cover has a horizontal gradient of violet fading to lilac in the center. At the very top is a yellow info blurb. The author’s name is below it in white with the wings of the jester-crowned falcon overlapping the “An”. In one claw, the falcon clasps a “medieval” banner with a purple band at the top, red ribbons flying on either side of the arrow-tipped bar and a checkerboard of green and white squares with golden bells in the white. The bottom of the banner is vertical stripes of white and purple. The series info is in the violet to the right of the falcon’s tail. The title is in yellow at the bottom.

I can’t figure out the title. I’m guessing it’s a description of how a falcon flies?? As in The Falcon Always Wings Twice?

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