CROUCHING BUZZARD, LEAPING LOON
As a favor to her brother, blacksmith and occasional sleuth Meg Langslow agrees to temporarily man the switchboard at his computer gaming company. Luckily, there's never a dull moment on the job, what with an eccentric group of engineers practicing martial arts in the halls, squabbling therapists sharing their space, and an office menagerie led by a one-winged buzzard named George.
When the company's practical joker whizzes by playing dead on the electronic mail cart, Meg is too busy to pay any mind. But on his fourth trip around, she notices he's not just playing! Someone has strangled him with a mouse cord. Of course, the police start eying all the wrong suspects, and it's up to Meg to save the day.
This may be the funniest installment of Andrews wonderfully wacky series yet. It takes a deft hand to make slapstick or physical comedy appealing, yet Andrews masterfully manages it (the climax will have you in stitches). In addition, the plethora of quirky characters makes the villain pleasantly unpredictable. (Jan., 320 pp., $23.95)