A Siege of Bitterns by Steve Burrows
|A Siege of Bitterns by Steve Burrows|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: The first in a new series which shows great promise. I was upset by a basic misunderstanding of the law, but if you get past that there's a good story here.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 368/11h39m||Date: March 2016|
|Publisher: Point Blank|
|External links: Author's website|
Detective Chief Inspector Domenic Jejeune is new to Saltmarsh, but his reputation has come before him. Success in a high profile case has made him the poster boy for the police. There's a snag though: Jejeune isn't actually that keen on the job. He'd much rather be out birdwatching, but that doesn't bring in an income and there's a simple fact. Jejeune is very a very good detective, with insights which few other people possess. There's one advantage to the job too: Saltmarsh is situated in North Norfolk, the UK's premier birding country but sometimes Jejeune's mind is more on the birds than the job.
His two worlds meet head on with the brutal murder of a prominent ecological activist. Jejeune's superintendent expects that there's going to be a welcome blaze of publicity and there's more than a little bit of frustration when the best theory that Jejeune seems able to come up with is a feud over birdwatching lists and the race to reach 400 different birds in Norfolk. Only Jejeune seems to think that people might kill over this. Then there's a second murder - and it doesn't look as though lists of birds could have any part to play here. Or perhaps they do.
I came to A Siege of Bitterns by a rather circuitous route: tempted by the location of the North Norfolk coast and birds I read the fourth book in the series, despite this usually being against my better judgement. Fortune favoured the brave though and the book was a winner. This time I'm conflicted, but I'll get the negative out of the way first.
At one point the superintendent tells a member of the public that he will not be prosecuted for trespass on private land, despite the fact that he'd been shot at by the landowner. That - apparently - was the trade off. Trespass, other than in very specific situations, is a civil and not a criminal matter, so the police would not become involved. I thought that the superintendent was obviously a wrong 'un and wasted rather a lot of time trying to work out how she could be involved.
On the plus side though, I did like Jejeune. He's far from perfect and you sense that the staff at Salmarsh don't entirely like him. He's a bit unpredictable and can be pernickety about grammar when it doesn't really matter. They put up with him, but - as yet - they're not really with him. Sergeant Danny Maik comes over well, the other officers less so, but I know that this will change in later books.
The location is wonderful and if you love the North Norfolk coast you'll be able to see it as you read. There's some thought-provoking content about the ecology of the area which is fascinating but not too preachy. If you're a birder, you'll be in heaven.
As well as reading the book I listened to an audio download (which I paid for myself) read by David Thorpe and it was a real pleasure. Thorpe captured Jejeune's Canadian accent perfectly and it was a delightful contrast to the Norfolk burr. I'm planning on listening to more from the series. I would 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.
You could get a free audio download of A Siege of Bitterns by Steve Burrows with a 30-day Audible free trial at Amazon.co.uk.
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You can read more book reviews or buy A Siege of Bitterns by Steve Burrows at Amazon.com.
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