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Expendable Mudge Muses Aloud

The Penguin Who Knew Too Much - Donna Andrews Rating: 3.5* of fiveAnother fun entry in the Meg Langslow mystery series, set in fictional Caerphilly County, Virginia, and populated by the usual cast of nuts, weirdos, and goofballs that surround Meg, her husband Michael, and the one or two other normals that Andrews heaves into the chaos of her plots to provide anchors for the action.This entry in the series takes on a lot of expository responsibility. It requires the characters to navigate Meg and Michael's moving into their huge new home, the party that *must* ensue from that in Southern culture, the discovery of a long-lost relative, the actual wedding of Meg and Michael, and the ordinary nuttiness of an Andrews mystery.It succeeds, but barely. This is a breathless hurtle from giddy-up to whoa. Andrews's trademark bellow-with-laughter lines are fewer and farther between because of the pace at which events progress (though I will be stealing shamelessly the gut-busting, "Oh good, the hyenas are here" for the next family do). The need for speed trumps the need to make a person hoot.That said, this is still a very funny book. The reactions of all characters to the madhouse environment of Meg and Michael's world is pitch-perfect and just the right degree of puzzled acceptance of the most wacked events as normal.Recommended for those already in the know. Anyone not acquainted with the series should really start with the first one, Murder With Peacocks, in order to acclimatize to the madness. From there, I think there are few rules...though it's wise to remember that chronology makes life easier....