Crouching Buzzard, Leaping Loon
You really want to read the first 3 books in the series before you begin this one. Each of the main characters has a complex, convoluted past that lays the groundwork for why they are the way they are in this series. You will miss out on a lot of the whys and double meanings if you try to jump right to this one.
Donna Andrews - Meg Langslow
That being said, it's almost a fish out of water situation here. Meg is on her own in this book - her boyfriend is off in California and only calls in his part of the relationship. Meg is helping her brother with his now successful software company. I'm a programmer and a game reviewer, so I had a blast with this premise. For people who think these characters in the gaming design world are outlandish - really, this is how they are :) I've played midnight role-playing games. I've had pizza and beer brought in at 11pm as yet another build ran over schedule. You have to be insane to survive this sort of lifestyle. Practical jokes and code changes are standard fare. I laughed out loud at many parts - not because I thought it was ridiculous - but because I identified with what was happening.
Meg is injured and is completely away from her normal lifestyle. She's being a secretary here. As is normal for the series, she doesn't detect as much as she falls over clues, and gets many of them wrong. You can complain that this is bothersome - but there are plenty of other books where the super-smart detective sees everything at one glance. Meg's style is quite different. You accept it as part of her bumbling charm.
I actually found myself wondering a few times during the book if I liked this book so much because it had completely removed elements that made the first 3 books unique! A key part of the books so far had been Meg's relationship with her Prince Charming. I found him a bit annoying. I was very happy with his long distance situation - but that doesn't bode well for me for future books :) The same is true for the environment. I loved the software environment, but again this is a one-off. Meg isn't going to be around software developers for all of the books! It was really challenging for me to figure out if the writing style had just matured - so that I liked the "Meg Series" better with this fourth book - or if it was the specific combination of no-boyfriend and great-atmosphere that nailed it for me.
In any case, as usual, I was disappointed by the ending. I just don't like the way any of these books wrap up. You'll have to judge for yourself if you like these style of endings or if they annoy you. Still, if I have a great time through 99% of the book, and this author's particular style of ending doesn't please me, that is still a great ride. If I can laugh out loud the entire time - and read it straight through even though it's 4am and I should be getting to sleep - then that is a book I definitely recommend to others.
Just be sure to read the other earlier books first!
Donna Andrews - Meg Langslow
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