In MacLeod’s An Owl Too Many, the owl too many is a decoy meant to lead Thorkjeld Svenson’s owl counting group into a murder trap. Svenson is president of Balaclava Agricultural College. His group is part of the traditional annual Balaclava County owl count.
As it happens, the wrong person gets swooped up in a net and murdered. And the whole thing goes back to Associate Professor Winifred Binks’ inheriting millions from her now-deceased, certifiably crazy grandfather.
Along the way, our hero Peter Shandy and his friend Professor Binks end up in a life threatening situation. (You'll have to read about it to appreciate it.) Only President Svenson’s mastery of an ancient Swedish art can save them.
No matter that when you think about it logically, the motivation for the crime in this story seems convoluted at the least. All the good people of Balaclava County are on hand, and that in itself, is enough to make An Owl Too Many funny, mostly straight-through-readable, and good.