Ornamental blacksmith Meg Langslow seeks a killer who committed his dastardly deed in the basement of her hometown’s courthouse, while the building’s ownership is very much up for grabs.
Nothing, it seems, can throw Caerphilly, Va., off its reliably eccentric rhythm. Ex-mayor George Pruitt may have mortgaged the town’s public buildings to First Progressive Financial, LLC (aka Evil Lender) and embezzled the cash he raised; FPF may be threatening to foreclose on the collateral if its demands for the town to annex some choice private property through eminent domain and turn it over to FPF aren’t met; town clerk Phineas K. Throckmorton may have barricaded himself in the courthouse basement in protest over a year ago. The locals simply close ranks behind Phinny, refusing to tell FPF’s private eye Stanley Denton about the tunnel through which they’re taking food to the embattled clerk and doing their best to protect his 11 remaining pigeons from the hawk FPF has set on them. All would be perfectly normal, or at least what passes for normal in Caerphilly, if someone didn’t shoot FPF vice president Colleen Brown dead only a few yards from Phinny’s barricade. It’s an obvious attempt to frame the clerk and flush him out of the courthouse, but which of FPF’s many minions is responsible? Before Meg can celebrate the Fourth of July by answering that question, she’ll have to deal with a litigious ecdysiast mime, a uniformed security force everyone calls the Flying Monkeys and a crime scene inspector whose preferred apparel is a gorilla suit.
Not even Andrews (The Real Macaw, 2011, etc.) can sustain the comic inspiration of her wacky opening premise for an entire volume, but it sure is fun to watch her try.