Just One Look

I am now almost completely caught on the Donna Andrew canon, with only The Twelve Jays of Christmas, this year’s Christmas Meg mystery, to go. I have already decided to save it for Christmas Eve and Christmas day reading; what better way to celebrate the holiday with yet another visit to Caerphilly at Christmastime? I have also realized that I have done something I try to never, ever do; once I have finished that particular Meg story, I won’t have another to read until next year’s release. Insane as it may sound, I never want to run out of books to read by favorite authors; it’s oddly comforting to know there’s still another one left for me to read. I still have about three to go with Sue Grafton, and there’s one Elizabeth Peters novel still left unread for me to sink my teeth into with a heavy sigh someday. I know it makes little to no sense to think this way, and it’s kind of irrational, but I’ve never claimed that my brain and its peculiarities and weird ways of working makes sense to anyone who is NOT me

And in complete honesty, I’m not entirely certain I understand how my brains works. It certainly mystifies me most of the time.

“Mom?”

I kept my eyes firmly closed and focused on breathing in and out in the slow, deliberate way that was supposed to make you feel better when you were stressed. One…two…

“Mom,” Jamie repeated. “I know when you’re doing your yoga breathing we’re not supposed to interrupt you unless there’s actual bleeding involved.”

“Or open flames,” his twin brother, Josh, added.

“But I kind of think this might qualify,” Jamie went on.

My eyes flew open.

All I could see for a second were the muddy shins and baggy knees of the woolen hose they were wearing as part of their medieval costumes. I craned my neck to see upward, past the well-worn lether doublets to their faces. Josh was leaning on his longbow as if it were a staff. Jamie had his lung over his left shoulder. Neither appeared to be injured. But they both looked…anxious. And that wasn’t a look I saw very often on the faces of my not-quite-teenage sons.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

They exchanged a glance. Were they deciding what to tell me? Or just sorting out who had to do the telling?

“We think we found a body,” Josh said.

“A dead body,” Jamie clarified.

As always, Meg has her hands full as the book opens. Not only have the twins discovered what may be a dead body in the woods near the house, the reason they are dressed in medieval costume is because Michael, her husband and a professor of drama at the local college, is mounting a production of Macbeth, and the twins have (small) roles. Because of insane and arcane academic inter-departmental politics, the Drama department has had to enlist the assistance of the History department in a skirmish against the villainous English department, which has resulted with a group of re-enactors camping out in the field on her parents’ neighboring property; the leader of the group is a royal pain in the ass. There’s also a house full of relatives, as per usual, and due to the on-going housing situation in Caerphilly, many of the cast of the show are having to stay, if not in Meg’s and Michael’s house, then camping out around it. There have also been some incidents of vandalism, inside and outside the house–and oh, yes, there’s a documentary filmmaker staying in his trailer, also on the property and also proving to be a bit of a handful.

Never ever a dull moment in Meg’s life, certainly!

If that’s enough, the area is in the middle of a drought, and someone has been lighting campfires in the woods. Rose Noire, Meg’s cousin and an herbalist/naturalist/holistic healer type, is convinced that whoever is lighting the campfires is up to no good–and the discovery of a page torn from a book with an evil spell written out in nearby only seems to back up Rose Noire’s intuition (Rose Noire is becoming a favorite of mine; I love all the characters in this series–the ongoing feud between Meg’s grandparents is a personal favorite on-going subplot of mine–but Rose Noire was a bit irritating at first, but as I’ve spent more time with her she has definitely grown in my estimation; and her devotion to protecting animals–as happens throughout this book–played no small part in that rise) that the miscreants are definitely up to no good.

I don’t want to give away too much of the plot–which is, as always, interwoven with various subplots and minor mysteries, which only serve to complicate and confuse the reader (not so much Meg) while trying to solve the central mystery–but the book is, as always, a charming experience that engaged me throughout, making me laugh aloud several times, and while I was glad to get to the bottom of the mystery, and the ending was enormously satisfying…at the same time I was a little morose to be done with my latest visit to Meg’s world.

And I only have one more to read. Heavy sigh.

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