The Nightingale Before Christmas Review
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There’s just something about the holiday season that makes it the perfect time of year to curl up with a cozy mystery. And if that cozy mystery just happens to have a holiday theme—like The Nightingale Before Christmas, a Meg Langslow Christmas mystery by author Donna Andrews—it makes it even better.

The story finds wife, mother, and blacksmith Meg Langslow scrambling to make it through another holiday season. Meg’s mother is one of the decorators taking part in a holiday show house for charity, and Meg has been roped into being the on-site coordinator. As deliveries go missing and both personalities and design sensibilities clash, Meg is in the middle of it all, just trying to get the designers to finish their rooms in time. And the stress levels in the house rise when one of the more disruptive designers is murdered in the house, making the rest of the designers prime suspects.

CSI meets HGTV in this fun-filled comic mystery starring a beloved whodunit heroine. While The Nightingale Before Christmas is Meg’s 18th mystery, though, there’s no need for newcomers to the series to shy away. Though first-time readers may not have the same history with the characters, there’s still plenty here to love—from the small-town holiday setting to the eccentric designers and their ongoing antics.

It’s no surprise that these characters offer more than their share of conflict. When you put a group of competing designers together, have each one decorate a different room in the same house, give them a tight deadline, and make them all fight for a jury-selected prize, tempers and egos are sure to flare. And these designers definitely don’t disappoint. From grim, gothic Vermillion to womanizing Clay to designers nicknamed “the Quilt Ladies” and “Our Lady of Chintz,” almost all of these eccentric characters bring their own personality and style to the story (though, admittedly, some of them get lost in the shuffle). And the more you get to know these characters (especially the victim), the more interesting they become.

Of course, there’s nothing ground-breaking or thought-provoking about this cozy mystery—but that’s just a part of its cozy-mystery charm. It’s simply light and entertaining, with a humor-filled story, an ensemble cast of quirky characters, a small-town setting, and loads of holiday spirit.

If you’re stocking up on cozies for your holiday season enjoyment, be sure to add The Nightingale Before Christmas to your collection. After a long day of shopping and baking and holiday errands, this easy-going mystery is perfectly paired with a mug of hot chocolate, a plate full of cookies, and your favorite reading chair.

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