The falcon has almost landed

by Donna Andrews of the Femmes Fatales.

Tomorrow is publication day for The Falcon Always Wings Twice. Which is, to my astonishment, book 27 in my Meg Langslow series.  I have to admit: it’s probably not as exciting as having your first book out . . . but I’m still far from blasé about my pub dates.

In the weeks leading up to a book’s pub date, we all wait anxiously for the reviews--by we, I mean my editor and the other staff at Minotaur who work on the book, my agent and her team, and me.  Especially me.

To our collective delight, the reviews we’ve seen so far were very nice.

Publishers Weekly opened with:

Bestseller Andrews’s charming 27th mystery featuring level-headed Meg Langslow (after 2019’s Owl Be Home for Christmas) finds Meg’s grandmother, Cordelia Mason, hosting the Riverton, Va., Renaissance Faire at her Biscuit Mountain Craft Center, where Meg is conducting blacksmithing demonstrations, along with her teacher and mentor, Faulk Cates, and her twin sons.

(Which is also a pretty good short take on what the book is about.)

And concludes:

Andrews supplies her usual droll plot and familiar cast of eccentrics, and the picturesque Renaissance Faire setting adds to the fun. This quirky, long-running cozy series shows no signs of losing steam. 

Booklist commented:

Fans of Andrews' humorous cozy series will enjoy the familiar quirky characters, all in fine form in this satisfying entry. The Renaissance Faire frame provides a wealth of details on life and times in the fifteenth century as well as on falconry and blacksmithing.

And the often-savage Kirkus noted:

Sudden death competes for attention with Andrews’ trademark brand of comic bedlam at the Riverton Renaissance Faire . . . Although Andrews keeps the proceedings as light and brisk as a carnival, there’s more mystery than in Meg’s last several adventures, and Meg rises to the occasion till she’s cornered by not one but two independent candidates for the hoosegow.

So the crew breathed a happy sigh of relief.

My editor was probably happier than usual with this book, because I included two of his favorite things in it: blacksmithing, and Meg’s grandmother, Cordelia. Readers who have been following the series from its beginning will notice--and I hope enjoy!--the return of two characters last seen in Revenge of the Wrought Iron Flamingos: Faulk Cates, Meg’s blacksmithing mentor, and his boyfriend (now husband) Tad Jackson, programmer extraordinaire. Fans of Meg’s mother may cavil, since she appears less than in some books, but I almost left her home altogether. Remember, like all too many temporary outdoor events the Riverton Renaissance Faire is furnished with portapotties, not  flush plumbing, and the mere thought of entering one of those is enough to cause Mother to retreat to her room to lie down with a cool, damp cloth over her eyes until she recovers.  

But Dad is in his element, and once Meg’s grandfather recovers from his shock that a Ren Faire is not, as he thought, an ornithological convention in celebration of wrens, he enters into the costumed mayhem with surprising enthusiasm.

A lot of the new characters imported for the occasion are actors playing parts in “The Game”--an ongoing semi-improvisational form of entertainment organized by Michael. 

“Most Renaissance fairs just replay the story of Henry the Eighth and one or another of his wives,” Michael had said when he’d explained the idea to my grandmother Cordelia, the Riverton Faire’s owner and organizer. “Or Queen Elizabeth beheading Essex. What I have in mind is something much more exciting. We have this fictitious kingdom, and all the actors belong to one or another of the factions fighting to control it, and they plot and scheme and duel and seduce and betray each other. And they do it loudly and publicly at regular intervals all day long, in period costume and elegant Shakespearean prose.”

“Sounds like a cross between an old-fashioned soap opera and that Game of Thrones TV show,” Cordelia had said. “I like it.”

Michael and his fellow thespians are having a blast. Meg, not so much--she’s Cordelia’s second in command, which means it’s her job to cope whenever anything threatens to derail the success of the fair--including, of course, murder.

And in honor of pub day, I’ll be giving away a signed copy of The Falcon Always Wings Twice. Just comment on the Femmes blog or on Facebook. Say something amusing about falcons. Or renaissance fairs. Or portapotties. Whatever.  I’ll do a random draw, and might throw in another copy or two for entertaining comments.