The Nightingale Before Christmas by Donna Andrews.

Hardcover, published Minotaur Books October 2014, 18th in the Meg Langslow series.
The mixture as before and thank heavens for it. Having stopped buying one mystery series that I loved because the author went off at a tangent, and with another much-loved series being on the same brink, I was really happy to find nothing like that had happened to this series. In fact I read this book when it reached me last October, and enjoyed it so much I’ve just re-read it for this quick review. That’s twice in six months which says a lot as to how well it held up. And it’s all on again in Caerphilly when a Christmas-themed Show Home, each room decorated by a different designer showing off their skills and wares, becomes the scene of a murder. Before that there’s in-fighting, sabotage of some of the rooms, and Meg’s mother as one of the twelve designers, right in the thick of it.
Writing a humorous whodunnit is tricky. If the author goes too far over the top it merely becoms silly, if her humour is too vulgar it merely becomes crass, I find that Donna Andrews keeps an excellent balance. Her humour arises from the people and natural situations and events. Much of it, only very slightly tweaked, is the sort of thing that may well have happened or been said to the readers at some time, (leaving them laughing for ages) and I love the feeling at least once in any of this series, of ‘ah ha.’ Yes, something similar once happened/was said to me. It’s that natural progression of amusement that is to my mind, one of the strongest underpinnings of the books. Oh, and by the way, Minotaur books gives her excellent covers as well. Nothing outre, just attractive and relevent. And long may that continue because when I look at the covers provided some other authors, I can only wonder what their publishers were thinking!

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