Owls Well that Ends Well
Owls Well that Ends Well is the sixth in Donna Andrews' series about blacksmith Meg and her drama teacher / actor boyfriend Michael. Where previous installments found M & M in a variety of oddball locations, making me wonder if it was the locations that held such appeal, in this book they are nestled into their new, if rundown, home and are "simply" having a yard sale. That Donna could turn such a typical suburban event into a fascinating story is proof to me that she is simply a master storyteller and that she could turn ANY situation into a brilliant mystery romp.
Donna Andrews - Meg Langslow
Nothing goes smoothly for Meg and her clan, of course. The family, as we've seen in previous books, is very eccentric and each person has their own idea about how to do things. Meg is a little on the march-forward side of things, to the point of dumping icewater on the heads of unwanted callers and envisioning the piles of clutter around her as an evil invading army. Michael, intent on convincing his long-time girlfriend to finally marry him, is the model of patience and help throughout it all. Things are only barely lurching along when a corpse is found in the center of the yard sale area.
One of Michael's good friends - and the man responsible for hopefully getting him tenure at his college - is the prime suspect, and Meg eagerly wants to get him cleared. I found this reason far more believable than previous reasons for Meg to get herself involved in the solving of the murder. However, I found some of the situations vastly unbelievable, considering the number of murders Meg has been intimately involved with over the past few years. She was upset about being near a dead body?? Meg, who has been touching at least one a year? I understand the desire to make this book "readable" by someone who just picks it up without having read the rest of the series - but really, that's not going to happen. There is SO much back story to every character here, and so many in-jokes, that people who try to start here are going to be confused and perhaps disappointed. The readers who have gone step by step through the previous five books are going to find it exceedingly odd that Murder Expert Meg has suddenly forgotten about all of those other murders and is treating this like her very first one.
I loved the interplay of characters, the unique personalities that the various people had, and how the minor stories wove themselves in and out of the plot. Characters were nicely complex. Michael was on one hand very supportive and almost angelic - but on the other hand his frustrations and temper snapped through at times. His dramatic skills were made good use of. Spike had his role to play, as did Rob, mom, dad and other key characters. If there's any minor complaint, there were a number of "silly" puns near the end that didn't seem to fit.
I really enjoyed the book a lot, going through it, as usual, on one straight pass in an evening. These stories really do hook you and don't let you go until you finish them. And, in fact, where the other books left me feeling happy - their laugh out loud situations can really cheer up a day - this book both did that and got me motivated to go around and declutter things! Donate things to charity! Sell them on eBay! So if a book can make you happy AND help you get your home organized, I say get two copies, and give one to a friend :)
Donna Andrews - Meg Langslow
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