A Pitying of Doves by Steve Burrows
|A Pitying of Doves by Steve Burrows|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: A neatly-constructed and well-told police procedural. If you like north Norfolk you'll feel as though you're there. If you like birds you'll feel as though you're in heaven.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 384/12h40m||Date: April 2018|
|Publisher: Point Blank|
|External links: Author's website|
The body of a senior attaché from the Mexican consulate was found in a local bird sanctuary, along with the body of the director. It was a strange tableau: the girl impaled on a branch and the man lying at her feet, both in a cage. The fact that the man is a diplomat isn't immediately evident - he was in the area under an assumed name. DCI (and birder enthusiast) Domenic Jejeune is conflicted. The immediate problem is obviously to establish who murdered the man and the woman - and even that's complicated by the political necessity of not to involving the Mexican consulate, thus tying his hands rather tightly. The thoughts which are running in the back of his mind though are about the full-time research position studying birds which the director's death has opened up. Could this be his escape route from the police force?
It's a neat and well-constructed story: we're used to detectives with all sorts of personal problems, but I can't recollect another where there's an obsession with birds and the detective really doesn't want to be doing the job. The situation is exacerbated by the fact that Jejeune is something of a poster boy for the police force after success in a high-profile case. In his own way, he's famous - and he'd rather not be. There's only one consolation as far as he's concerned and that's the fact that he's stationed in Saltmarsh on the north Norfolk coast - and that's the UK's premier birding country. It serves up a lot of temptation though - and the other officers at Saltmarsh are only too aware that Jejeune doesn't always have his mind completely on the job.
It's difficult for his girlfriend, Lindy Hey, too. She's never quite certain about her relationship with Jejeune: she knows that the temptation of the full-time research position would mean him spending long periods (only eight weeks at a time, according to Jejeune) abroad - and if the police job doesn't work out, would he opt to go back to his native Canada? She's an award-winning journalist and doesn't feel inclined to put her career on hold to follow Jejeune.
I didn't work out whodunnit: I had someone else entirely chalked in and I wasn't alone in my conclusions, but the final solution was very satisfying. On the cover the book is described as a blend of procedural and cosy and just right for followers of M C Beaton's Hamish Macbeth. Personally, I think this undersells the series as it has rather more too it, but if these are the books you enjoy you're unlikely to be disappointed by the Birder Murders.
As well as reading the book I listened to an audio download (which I bought) narrated by David Thorpe. It was particularly well done, with Jejeune's soft Canadian accent contrasting well with the local Norfolk burr. I'm looking forward to listening to more from the combination of Steve Burrows and David Thorpe, but I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy of the book to the Bookbag.
I think there is some benefit to reading the books in chronological order, although I haven't come across any spoilers. You'll find a list here.
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