Toucan Keep a Secret by Donna Andrews is part of the Meg Langslow series of cozy mysteries. although this is number 23 in the series and I have not had the pleasure of reading its predecessors I was able to thoroughly enjoy this as a stand-alone book and will be checking out the rest of the series.
Meg Langslow is an artisan blacksmith is volunteering at the local Episcopalian church while the vicar is on maternity bed rest. one evening when she is closing up the church for the night she sees a light on in the columbarium (where cremated remains are entombed) out in the graveyard. intrigued she goes to investigate and walks in on a bloody body, broken urns and spilled ashes.
with the police taking the herm with the investigation Meg is left to deal with making peace with the families of the those whose ashes had been disturbed, during her talks she discovers a thread linking the victims and possibly a motive for murder not yet discovered by the police.
What I loved
I liked the intimacy that Donna Andrews manages to create in the relationships of the characters, it really adds to the close-knit community feeling that I so love in cozy mysteries.
What I didn’t not like
While I love a good pun. I don’t think that the titular toucan added to the story.
“What now?” I raced out of Robyn’s office and stood for a moment, trying to figure out where the sound was coming from. The back of the church, apparently. I strode into the sanctuary and down the center aisle toward the altar. I didn’t turn on the lights—partly to keep from alerting whoever was doing the hammering that I was hunting them down, and partly because I didn’t need to. The full moon shone through the soaring two-story stained glass windows along both sides of the sanctuary, casting great mosaics of multicolored light over the pews and the altar. I could see just fine. The noise wasn’t coming from the sanctuary. Possibly from downstairs. Or more likely from the churchyard. I reached the back wall and peered out of one of the relatively tiny non-stained glass windows. The churchyard would have been the perfect setting for filming a scary movie. One of those over-the-top Hammer Films with Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. The full moon cast spooky shadows from the gravestones and the weeping willows. And at the far end of the churchyard, another small multicolored splash of light spilled over the flagstone path that led to the crypt. “Someone’s in the crypt,” I said aloud. And then I immediately corrected myself. The columbarium. Both Robyn and Mother were adamant about using the proper term for a room whose walls were filled with niches to hold the ashes of parishioners who’d chosen cremation. But to me it would always be the crypt. It was a surprisingly large underground room that had been hollowed out of the side of the steep hill at the far end of the churchyard. In the middle of its gray stone front wall, a large medieval-style oak door with impressive wrought-iron hinges guarded the entrance to the crypt. As if deciding belatedly that the door made the place look too forbidding, the architect had added long, narrow stained glass panels on either side of the entrance. Stained glass panels that were now lit from within—a dead giveaway that someone was inside. My first impulse was to race out and accost the intruder. But I’d recently had a discussion with my dad, an avid reader of mystery books, about the Too Stupid to Live Syndrome.
Similar Books to Toucan Keep a Secret
For a mystery try The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith.
If you are looking for a cozy small town that is not a mystery try The Blue-Ribbon Jalapeño Society Jubilee by Carolyn Brown.