"Murder With Peacocks" is a fun, light, witty, comedy of manners, filled with eccentric characters, powered by a compelling mixture of obsession, compassion and optimism. It could easily have been entitled "Three Weddings And A Few Murders". It made me smile and, occasionally, laugh. It was the perfect read for a lazy Bank Holiday.
The story is told from the point of view of the formidable Meg Langslow, an independent, unflappable, competent and obsessively organised young woman, who abandons her blacksmith business for the summer to return home to the small Virginia town she grew up in and where she is related to almost everyone, to manage three weddings: her best friend's, her brother's and her (recently divorced) mother's.
Armed with her Notebook-That-Tells-Me-When-To-Breathe (this was published in 1999, seven years before the first iPhone) she sets about the task of providing each bride with the wedding of their dreams.
Meg is immediately attracted to the gorgeous Michael (ex-soap actor and current Professor of Theatre at a posh school) who is running the bridal gown shop, Be-Stiched, in his mother's absence. She is disappointed when the local gossips tell her that Michael is gay. Her inability to see that this is untrue provides the basis for a "Twelth Night" style comedy of manners.
In the midst of the wedding madness, a guest dies in suspicious circumstances. Meg and her retired Doctor father, believe the guest was murdered. A mystery follows in which various disasters occur and some more people are killed or seriously injured.
Meg splits her time between organising recalcitrant brides, building an easy, if frustratingly Platonic, partnership with Michael and figuring out who done it.
This is a book where the weddings are more important than the murders and the humour outshines both the romance and the mystery. It is none the worse for that.
Meg, fearless, pragmatic but ultimately kind, is a wonderful creation. I enjoyed my time in her company.
The book held no surprises except for how happy and relaxed it made me feel.
Fortunately, this is book one in a series of twenty books, so I'm hoping I have a lot more relaxation and happiness ahead.