I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles. (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).
A charming first book from a man who is a dedicated birder himself. A Brit living in Canada, his main character is a Canadian living in the U.K. And not just anywhere in the U.K., in Norfolk, an area well known for its birding opportunities. He writes convincingly about the expat experience.
My very first international birding trip in 1999 led this Canadian birder to that very area—I have wonderful memories of birding at Cley & Titchwell and learning about British birds from our knowledgeable leader. Indeed, we six Canadian women on the tour had no idea how much it would affect our lives. Five of us have stayed fast friends ever since, continuing to travel together to many far flung places as well as in our own home area. One of the original six has passed away, another has severe dementia, a third is well into her 80s and not really getting out much anymore, but the remaining three are still plotting and planning the next travel.
I personally belong to the group of birders who are actually interested in the birds as creatures in their own right—how they live, what they are doing, their behaviours, etc. If I can watch an individual for a length of time, that is most enjoyable. I keep a list, but I am far from fanatical about it—the listing is the least enjoyable part of the hobby for me. I also try to avoid people who restrict their interests only to biriding—I prefer people with varied interests, with people skills, and more conversational flexibility. As a result, I now make it a priority to try to find birding field trip leaders who have a little more going on in their lives than just birds. The more well-rounded human beings are just more pleasant to travel with, talk with, and observe birds with.
That worldview is studied in A Siege of Bitterns; the sad states of the lives of the men who are totally consumed with birding (or with business) to the exclusion of all else. The mystery itself is as muddy as the marsh where it takes place. In fact, I would say that for me, it was the birding aspect that charmed me about this novel, rather than the mystery. Recommended for birders with well-rounded lives who enjoy reading.