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by Donna Andrews
Minotaur, October 2019
297 pages
ISBN: 1250305314

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Donna Andrews is at it again with her sixth Christmas-themed and ornithologically- titled murder mystery. Meg Langslow has taken on the management of her grandfather's owl conference entitled Owl Fest 2019. The conference is at the Caerphilly Inn in Caerphilly, Virginia just a few days before Christmas.

Now Virginia is not noted for its snowstorms, but wouldn't you know, a polar vortex is swirling down on Caerphilly. Of course Caerphilly is unprepared for three feet of snow, so nothing in town is working: the power, the snowplows or anything else.

Fortunately the Inn has a generator so the conference is moving merrily along, or rather not merrily along. The ornithologists are wrangling over everything from owl taxonomy to whether the Barred Owls invading the Pacific Northwest and destroying the local threatened population of Spotted Owls should continue to be shot.

And then the obnoxious Dr. Frogmore is murdered and all heck once again breaks loose in Caerphilly. Fortunately, Meg's cousin Horace is a cop so he can begin the investigation, as well as reach Chief Burke on his two-way radio. Meanwhile Meg's twin boys are making snow tunnels in the inn's courtyard, her husband, Dr. Langslow is treating anyone who needs medical help and her mother is organizing carol sings.

When Chief Burke arrives on possibly the only snowmobile in Virginia, he begins questioning the possible suspects. Guns are pulled several times by several different people, Meg escapes through the boys' tunnels and, after several false leads, the murderer is found, the storm is over and everyone gets to go home Owl be Home for Christmas!

This is Donna Andrews 26th Meg Langslow mystery and the fun continues. There is enough information about owls to fill Santa's sack, owl puns to annoy all the pun-haters, and enough Christmas references to make us all feel cosy, warm and bright.

You won't want to miss the final banquet, which features Hanukkah food, Christmas foods from all over the world, and Japanese tentacle and seaweed dishes, all made by the Caerphilly Inn to please the ornithologists who are yearning for seasonal home-cooked meals.

OWL BE HOME FOR CHRISTMAS is the perfect book to find under the Christmas tree and the perfect one to read as you recover from the tryptophan haze of Christmas dinner.

Susan Hoover is a playwright, independent producer and retired college English teacher. She lives in Nova Scotia.

Reviewed by Susan Hoover, December 2019

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