Wrought-iron lawn ornaments are not something blacksmith Meg Langslow (Murder with Puffins, 2000, etc.) ordinarily wastes her talent on, but when feisty Mrs. Fenniman commissions a set of pink metal flamingos to replace the plastic birds banned by her neighborhood association’s Visual Enhancement and Aesthetics Committee, Meg obliges, since the disgruntled homeowner is one of Meg’s innumerable cousins. Unfortunately, Meg delivers the gaudy birds the weekend of Yorktown’s Revolutionary War reenactment, when crafters are limited by order of Mrs. Waterston (who in her saner moments is the mother of Meg’s boyfriend Michael) to clothing, tools, and merchandise of the 18th century. Struggling to stay “in period” in order to avoid fines levied by Mrs. Waterston’s Anachronism Police, Meg hides the flamingos, along with the Lawyers in Hell computer game her brother Rob hopes to sell to software developer Roger Benson, and the CD-ROM given her by Tad Jackson, a software engineer who hoped to market his CraftWorks program until Benson’s firm pirated its design. Instead, she proudly displays a dagger with an intricate falcon-patterned handle she made under the tutelage of master blacksmith William Faulkner Cates. Though Faulk approves of her craftsmanship, Meg’s pride is short-lived, since the evening after its unveiling, she finds her dagger plunged to its elegantly weighted hilt into Benson’s back.
Andrews’s humor is considerably dimmed by her resolute focus on the question of whether Meg will become related by marriage to virtually the only person on the scene she’s not already related to by blood.