Duck The HallsDuck The Halls by Donna Andrews is the 16th book in the “Meg Langslow” mystery series. Publisher: Minotaur, October 2013

“Tis the season to be jolly – and for Meg Langslow to round up stray animals of all sorts as well as a killer. Duck the Halls!

The brilliantly funny Donna Andrews delivers boughs of holly and barrels of laughs with Meg’s latest adventure in her award-winning, New York Times bestselling series.

A few nights before Christmas, Meg is awakened when volunteer fireman Michael is summoned to the New Life Baptist Church, where someone has rigged a cage full of skunks in the choir loft. The lengthy process of de-skunking the church requires its annual pre-Christmas concert to relocate to Trinity Episcopal, where Mother insists the show must go on, despite the budget-related protests of Mr. Vess, an elderly vestryman. Meanwhile, when Meg helps her grandfather take the skunks to the zoo, they discover that his boa has been stolen – only to turn up later during the concert, slithering out from the ribbon-bedecked evergreens. The next morning is Sunday, and the congregation of St. Byblig’s, the local Catholic church, arrive to find it completely filled with several hundred ducks.

It’s clear that some serious holiday pranksters are on the loose, and Meg is determined to find them. But before she can, a fire breaks out at Trinity, and Mr. Vess is discovered dead. Who would have murdered such a harmless – if slightly cranky – old man? Who has the time during the busy holiday season to herd all of these animals into the town’s churches? And will Meg ever be able to finish all of her shopping, wrapping, cooking, caroling, and decorating in time for Christmas Eve? A Yuletide treasure for the ages, Duck the Halls is guaranteed to put the “ho ho hos” into readers’ holidays.

Someone is pulling pranks but it gets out of hand when the latest prank results in a death. Was it the pranksters or someone else using it to disguise their murderous act? To find out, you’ll have to read this hilariously entertaining whodunit that I could not put down until the killer was revealed. Meg and her eccentrically quirky family are back in this character-driven drama that leaves you wanting more. Donna does a wonderful job in crafting a delightfully engaging and well-written tome with a mystery that kept me guessing and comedic moments that was both enjoyable and fun. As apropos with Meg and her family, the ending was perfect. A terrific read and I can’t wait for the next book in this fabulous series.

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