Book Review: Love, Honour, and O’Brien by Jennifer Rowe

Love, Honour, and O'BrienLove, Honour, and O’Brien
Jennifer Rowe
Poisoned Pen Press, January 2012
ISBN 9781590585436
Hardcover (e-ARC)
Also available as a trade paperback and ebook

From the publisher—

She stared into the speckled mirror, wondering how she had come to this. How could she, Holly Love, apple of her parents’ eye, competent manipulator of invoices in Gorgon Office Supplies, have ended up alone and starving in a dead man’s flat?

How indeed? Most reluctant heroines would throw in the towel at this point. But Holly Love is made of sterner stuff. She’s sworn to track down the cheating swine who ripped her life apart, and make him pay. But as she tries to keep her head in the face of a bizarre mystery, a gloomy old house, a hearse-driving Elvis impersonator and a gang of vengeful thugs – not to mention a garrulous and possibly possessed parrot – Holly is forced to come to terms with a great truth. However bad things seem, they can always get worse.

Every now and again, I find myself in need of humor in my reading and I’m not especially picky about where I get it but I do appreciate it when it comes in one of my favorite genres. I like it even more when I feel as though I’ve “discovered” something cool and that’s the case with Jennifer Rowe.

Back in my bookstore-owning days, one of our most popular middle-grade authors was Emily Rodda. She was also a favorite because she was Australian, a label that for some reason intrigues us Americans.

What’s up with that? Is it the whole reversed seasons thing or maybe the thrill of crocodile hunting? The really odd animals like platypuses/platypi and Tasmanian Devils and the Southern Hairy-Nosed Wombats (as opposed to the Northern Hairy-Nosed Wombats)? But I digress.

So, anyway, Emily Rodda had loads of titles on our shelves in the kids’ section. Over in the mystery section, our largest, we had one title that I can recall by a woman named Jennifer Rowe. If I ever read it, I don’t remember it, but I clearly failed miserably in my sworn duty as a bookseller, to know everything there is to know about every book ever written by every author who ever lived. I’ll probably never get over the shame of not realizing that my beloved Emily Rodda and Jennifer Rowe are one and the same. I didn’t find this out until I was offered an advance reading copy of Love, Honour, and O’Brien and the publisher spilled the beans.

So, let’s take care of the elephant in the room—yes, I was massively biased in favor of this book before I read it. Isn’t it nice that my bias wasn’t misplaced?

I chortled and sniggered and heehawed my way through this book and, by the way, enjoyed the mystery, too. Holly Love is a wonderful character, funny and a bit naive, but determined to not let the aforesaid swine get away with it, not to mention get her money back so she can eat more than leftover cheese and pickles. When hiring a private detective named Mick O’Brien doesn’t work out so well, Holly decides to carry on, meeting a plethora of wonderful folks along the way, my favorite being the Elvis impersonator. Eventually, Holly finds herself at an Australian version of a remote country house in the mountains where she just might learn a few things, including where the swine has gone.

Love, Honour, and O’Brien is a hilarious and delightful cozy with a puzzling mystery, a great cast and a lot of humor. Please, please, Ms. Rowe, say there will be more Holly Love adventures!

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, August 2012.