Swan for the Money Review
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When I first picked up Swan for the Money, a mystery that’s centered on a rose competition, I wasn’t sure how interesting a gardening event could turn out to be. However, since I’m such a sucker for serial amateur sleuths, I couldn’t resist giving it a go. I need not have worried, though, because author Donna Andrews brings readers a highly entertaining tale about an ordinary competition with not-so-ordinary participants.

Meg Langslow is so relieved that her parents have chosen a safe hobby that can’t possibly get them into trouble that she volunteers to organize the Caerphilly Garden Club’s first annual rose show. Little does she know that rose growers are so highly competitive that they’ll do anything to take home a prize—maybe even resorting to murder.

The show is to be held at the atrocious Mrs. Winkleson’s eccentric house, where everything is decorated in black and white. The same color scheme applies to the farm animals, which raises the ire of Meg’s grandfather, Dr. Montgomery Blake, an environmental activist, who wants to come along and snoop around the animal pens. So, along with Catherine Willner, owner of a nearby animal refuge, Dr. Blake sets out to find evidence of animal cruelty.

  
 
A victim, who’s dressed too much like Mrs. Winkleson, ends up stabbed in the back with garden shears and left to die in the goats’ pasture. Meg suspects that Mrs. Winkleson was the intended victim—and she’s so unlikable that just about everyone has a motive. So, as Meg deals with black swans bent on breaking bones, goats that faint at the slightest noise, and some equally nutty rose growers, she keeps her eye out for a murderer who could strike again at any time.

I have to stand up and applaud author Donna Andrews for taking something as prosaic as a rose competition and turning it into one great, big, hilarious mystery—because there’s not one boring moment in Swan for the Money. It takes a talented writer to pull off something like that, and Ms. Andrews ranks among the best of them.

Filled with humor, wit, and unusual, lovable characters, Swan for the Money engages readers in a clever mystery that takes place in a strange setting, surrounded by equally abnormal events.

There’s no way that you’ll guess where this one is headed. Still, Meg handles anything that can (and does) go wrong with outward patience, and she’ll make you laugh by sharing what’s really going on inside her mind when things get a little bit over the edge.

Swan for the Money was such an enjoyable read that I plan to collect Ms. Andrews’s backlist and immerse myself in the world of amateur sleuth Meg Langslow. I recommend that you do, too.

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