A Bird in the Hand (George and Molly Palmer-Jones) by Ann Cleeves

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A Bird in the Hand (George and Molly Palmer-Jones) by Ann Cleeves

Category: Crime
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: A young birder was found dead in the Norfolk marshes: it's a case for George Palmer-Jones. A good read a very informative about twitching, ringing and birding in general.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 224/7h24m Date: November 2014
Publisher: Bello
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1447289050

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A young birder, Tom French, was found dead in the Norfolk Marshes, battered about the head and with his binoculars still around his neck. He'd been a popular young man, keen to help others with their birdwatching despite being trapped in a catering job he didn't enjoy at all. Birds were his life - well, birding and his girlfriend and her young son, Barnaby. Who would have murdered one of the best birders in England, the man who had put the village of Rushy on the birdwatching map? The father of Adam Armitage, another young birdwatcher asked George Palmer-Jones to investigate the murder: he was concerned that his son might be involved with some distinctly unpleasant people. You couldn't help but suspect that it was his own reputation he was worried about, rather than his son's welfare.

I normally do my best to avoid private investigator books, particularly when murder is involved: it's difficult to see how anyone can be better equipped to handle an investigation than the police and there's always a feeling of unreality. However, no audiobook to listen to in the early hours of a sleepless morning, an interest in birds (of the more common varieties) and a great respect for anything written by Ann Cleeves persuaded me that I needn't be quite so picky. And I'm pleased that I changed my mind. It was a good read (or listen - but more about that later).

Perhaps the reason for George Palmer-Jones becoming involved in the case was a little tenuous, but suspend disbelief. He used to be something in the Home Office (and you suspect that it wasn't something lowly) and his wife, Molly, is a retired social worker. They bring different skills to the investigation and make a good partnership. George is a birder too and I was fascinated by the insight into that community - it wasn't at all as I'd expected. It's a twisty tale, with plenty of red herrings and I had several people confidently chalked in as the murderer and still didn't get it right.

I had been slightly worried that a book originally published in 1986 might seem a little dated more than thirty years later, but apart from wondering on a couple of occasions about the lack of mobile phones (how long is it since you asked someone if they minded if you used their phone?) I might have been reading a current story. Part of this is down to Ann Cleeves' superb writing: it was good to see an early example of a master at work.

Rather than read the book I listened to an audio download (which I bought myself) narrated by Seán Barrett. He's impressive: his narration was easy to listen to and I was pleased by his range of voices. Unusually for a man I found his range of female voices as good as the male: none bled into each other and I was never in any doubt about which character was speaking. Not only have I found a new series to read, I've discovered a new narrator.

It's too early for me to say whether it's important to read the books in the order in which they were written, but if it's important to you, you'll find a list here.


Buy A Bird in the Hand (George and Molly Palmer-Jones) by Ann Cleeves at Amazon You could get a free audio download of A Bird in the Hand (George and Molly Palmer-Jones) by Ann Cleeves with a 30-day Audible free trial at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy A Bird in the Hand (George and Molly Palmer-Jones) by Ann Cleeves at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy A Bird in the Hand (George and Molly Palmer-Jones) by Ann Cleeves at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy A Bird in the Hand (George and Molly Palmer-Jones) by Ann Cleeves at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy A Bird in the Hand (George and Molly Palmer-Jones) by Ann Cleeves at Amazon.com.


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