Caerphilly, Va., goes bust, leaving its detritus all over Meg Langslow’s property.
It’s a tribute to the wacky world created in Meg’s first 11 adventures (Stork Raving Mad, 2010, etc.) that when she hears animal noises downstairs during a 2 a.m. feeding of her infant twins, it never occurs to either her or the reader that they represent anything dangerous or criminal. Indeed, the menagerie ensconced in her living room—enough animals for Noah, it seems—has been brought there by her physician father, her irascible grandfather and their fellow members of the Committee Opposed to the Ruthless Slaughter of Innocent Captive Animals (CORSICA). Now that financial pressures have forced the town’s animal shelter to revisit its no-kill policy, CORSICA stalwarts have liberated its inmates and brought them all to Meg’s. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Under the dubious leadership of Mayor Pruitt, Caerphilly has run up a ruinous debt secured by the town’s public buildings. Now the faceless (but Pruitt-friendly) bank is poised to foreclose, seizing both the town’s assets and, under the law of eminent domain, the farms belonging to Meg’s family and her neighbors. It’s enough to make you forget the murder of Parker Blair, whose plan to start placing all those animals in good homes was cut short by a bullet. But figuring out whodunit doesn’t look half as hard as pulling Caerphilly back from the brink of financial disaster.
Surprisingly, Andrews, sobering up measurably after her curtain-raiser, spends most of her time and energy solving Parker’s murder, leaving his hometown’s troubles to recede almost of their own accord in an undeservedly upbeat epilogue.