The hilly terrain next to the old Sprocket house that Meg Langslow and her fiancé, Michael, are refurbishing is the perfect location for an extreme croquet field - even the legs of cows and sheep are convenient extra wickets. Croquet has become all the rage in Caerphilly...until it appears someone in town has taken the rage a bit too literally. While stumbling down a steep bank after her ball, Meg encounters the body of a fresh female corpse with a mallet-sized dent in her head.
Meg Langslow was actually looking forward to renovating the old Victorian mansion she and her boyfriend Michael bought. But she wasn't thrilled by the lifetime of junk accumulated by the house's eccentric previous owner, Edwina Sprocket. The easiest solution: hold the end-all and be-all of gigantic yard sales.
As the holidays draw near in Caerphilly, Mother volunteers to take part in a big Christmas-themed decorator show house - each room of a temporarily untenanted house is decorated to the hilt by a different decorator for the public to tour. Of course, Mother insists that Meg pitch in with the organization, and she finds herself surrounded by flamboyant personalities with massive egos clashing and feeling their professional reputations are at stake.
"Bernadette Dunne is a Gem"
Meg is Team Mom, and Michael is coach of their twin sons' youth baseball team, the Caerphilly Eagles. Meg tangles with Biff Brown, the petty, vindictive league head. On opening day Biff's lookalike brother is found dead in the porta-potty at the ball field. So many people think Biff's scum that it would be easy to blame him, but he has an alibi - and Meg suspects he may actually have been the intended victim.
"Just love it."
A few nights before Christmas, Meg is awakened when Michael is summoned to the New Life Baptist Church, where someone has rigged a cage full of skunks in the choir loft. The lengthy process of de-skunking the church requires its annual pre-Christmas concert to relocate to Trinity Episcopal, despite the protests of Mr. Vess, an elderly vestryman.
"This will put you in the mood for Christmas!"
Poor Meg Langslow. She's blessed in so many ways. Michael, her boyfriend, is a handsome, delightful heartthrob who adores her. She's a successful blacksmith, known for her artistic wrought-iron creations. But somehow Meg's road to contentment is more rutted and filled with potholes than seems fair.
Molly is terrified that she may lose her farm because her idle husband has left her for a rich hobby winemaker and is demanding his half of the land. Meg enlists Mother's help to find Molly a divorce lawyer, which Mother is all the more willing to do because the unfaithful husband's new girlfriend is the bete noire of the wine pavilion. She is so universally disliked that Meg begins to worry about her safety. But it's the unfaithful husband whose murdered body she and Michael find that night.
"A Cluck of a Story - Get It"
Meg Langslow knew the fan convention for her actor-boyfriend's hit television series was going to be the ultimate in weird. But she came along because she figured Michael could use an occasional dose of sanity, and because it was an inspired place to sell her hand-crafted weapons. And so far, she was dealing pretty well with the costumed fans camped outside, the batch of escaped parrots and monkeys frolicking throughout the hotel, and the minefield of egos lurking behind the show's success.
"I love this series"
It's another holiday and Mayor Randall Shiffley has turned Caerphilly, Virginia, into Spooky City, USA. The residents are covering every window with cobwebs and roaming the streets in costume to entertain the tourists, and Meg's grandfather is opening a new 'Creatures of the Night' exhibit in the zoo. When a real body at the zoo and a suspicious fire at the Haunted House threaten to mar the town's creepy fun, it's up to Meg Langslow to save Halloween.
"Give Us More"
Meg's paternal grandfather has hired Stanley Denton to find her grandmother Cordelia. Stanley has found a trail to his long-lost love in a small town a short drive away. He convinces Meg to come with him to meet her, but unfortunately, the woman they meet is Cordelia's cousin. Cordelia died several years ago, and the cousin suspects she was murdered by her long-time neighbor. Stanley and Meg agree to help track down the killer.
"Always a pleasure"
Meg Langslow is plying her blacksmith's trade at Caerphilly Days, a festival inspired by the town's sudden notoriety as "The Town That Mortgaged Its Jail". The lender has foreclosed on all Caerphilly's public buildings, and all employees have evacuated - except one. Phineas Throckmorton, town clerk, has been barricaded in the courthouse basement for over a year. But the lender seems increasingly determined to evict him, and may succeed after one of its executives is found shot, apparently from inside the basement.
"Hurrah! Meg Langslow finally in audio!"
"New Rules Curbing Wall Street Pay Proposed" is from the April 21, 2016 Markets section of The Wall Street Journal. It was written by Donna Borak, Andrew Ackerman and Christina Rexrode and narrated by Alexander Quincy.