The Nightingale Before ChristmasMeg Langslow writes a letter to one of her cousins, with editorial comments from her husband, Michael

December 20

Dear Cousin Safflower,

Michael: Do you actually have a cousin named Safflower?

Meg: Now I do. She thought Susan was too commonplace.

Mother told me that you were thinking of coming for a visit at Christmas. Of course we’d love to have you–

Michael: Love to have her? Are you crazy? We already have more visitors than guest rooms. Tell her there’s no room at the inn. Tell her–

Of course we do have rather a lot of family already staying here, but I’m sure we can find room for one more. We’re all family, right? Aunt Ida says you’re welcome to bunk with her.

Michael: Isn’t Ida the one whose snores the boys mistook for another earthquake last night?

We’re pretty informal about meals at the moment, because Mother and I are spending so much time down at the Decorator Show House.

Michael: Won’t “informal about meals” imply that someone around here actually might have time to feed her this week?

I’m sure you’ll love the show house—we have twelve different designers, each doing a room in his or her own unique style.

Michael: She might love your mother’s room and a couple of the others, but I’m pretty sure she won’t like that bedroom that looks like something you’d find in the Addam’s Family’s house. And what about that dining room, with the forty-seven different flowered prints? Is that really supposed to be stylish?

Meg: No, Mother thinks it’s pretty tacky, too. But Caerphilly’s a small town. We only have so many decorators. We had to use the available talent.

Michael: Yeah, I guess that’s why you included that jerk Clay Spottiswoode. Why someone hasn’t throttled that man years ago is a mystery to me.

Mother is doing the Great Room, and I’m sure she’d love to have another pair of willing hands to help her finish everything that needs doing before we open. We’ve all been putting in twelve or fourteen hour days. By the way, how well do you sew?

Michael: Excellent! That should scare her off. And since she’s a cousin, I assume she knows about how much chance she’d have of escaping a work detail when your mother’s around.

Do let me know when you’re arriving. Dulles Airport is only two hours away, and while it’s unlikely that Michael and I will be able to meet your plane, luckily, one of the local chicken farmers drives his truck up just about every day to deliver eggs and live chickens to an organic market in Washington, and he’s always happy to swing by the airport for us.

Looking forward to seeing you soon!



You can read more about Meg and her illustrious family in The Nightingale Before Christmas, the 18th book in the “Meg Langslow” mystery series, published by Minotaur. The first book in the series is Murder with Peacocks.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 6 p.m. eastern on October 27 for the chance to win a copy of THE NIGHTINGALE BEFORE CHRISTMAS. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.

Meet the author
Donna Andrews is the author of twenty-two mystery novels, including eighteen in the Meg Langslow series from Minotaur. Her most recent books are The Good, the Bad, and the Emus (July 2014) and The Nightingale Before Christmas (October 2014). She blogs with the Femmes Fatales (, and when not writing she can probably be found in her garden, taking a picture of whatever flowers haven’t yet been eaten by the deer.

You can reach Donna at her website, on Twitter or on Facebook.

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