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).
The threat from above is an ever-present danger. A man falls to his death from a high cliff face in northern Scotland. From a distance, another man watches. He approaches the body, tucks a book into the man’s pocket, and leaves. When the Scottish police show Inspector Domenic Jejeune the book, a bird guide bearing his name, he can truthfully say he that he has no idea how it came to be in the dead man’s pocket. What he does not tell them is that he recognizes the book instantly. So, while puzzled, he is not entirely surprised when his brother Damian emerges from his fugitive existence to reveal that the dead man is a notorious “taker” — a poacher of live wild falcons.
The case gets personal in a way Jejeune has never experienced before. He is acutely aware that with each passing day, rare birds are being illegally taken from the wild. And hovering over his every move is the threat that if he gets this one wrong, no one in the North Norfolk Constabulary will escape the wrath of the nation’s highest-placed officials.
If you are a birder and you like murder mysteries, you are already predisposed to like the Birder Murder Mysteries by Steve Burrows. This third installment of the series returns the reader to the Norfolk area of England, to see what Inspector Domenic Jejeune is involved in now—obviously from the title, falcons feature as an important part of the action.
Developments include Jejeune’s relationships with his partner Lindy, his sergeant Danny Maik, and his superior officer Colleen Shepard, among others. Plus we finally get a peek into the family backstory that has been alluded to in the previous two books.
Burrows uses his life experience as a birder and as a Brit transplanted to Canada to craft an engaging main character (Jejeune is a Canadian ex-pat in Norfolk).
The plot gets a bit messier, just like real life, and the entanglements get more difficult to sort out. Justice proves a little more difficult to achieve. A satisfying story—but I can see the possibilities for the next book A Shimmer of Hummingbirds, which I will be on the look-out for next year.