A Siege of Bitterns: A Birder Murder Mystery Paperback – Apr 5 2014
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This is one of the most delightful, old-fashioned mysteries of recent years. (DailyMail)
Sound plot and well-drawn characters within the police and from all sides of Norfolk's ecological issues make for a most entertaining read. (The Times)
Finally, a solid, well-constructed murder mystery that happens to involve a subject with which many mystery readers might not be familiar.(Booklist)
While Jejeune may not be too enthusiastic about his profession, it’s easy to be enthusiastic about Burrows’ first mystery, and I’m looking forward to more fowl play in the future.(National Post)
A murder plot built around birdwatching doesn’t, at first, seem plausible or even possible. But Oshawa author Burrows pulls it off in a dazzling debut novel sure to make the shortlist for next year’s Arthur Ellis. . . Riveting from first page to final line. (Globe and Mail)
Filled with clues dead ends . . . and blinding moments of “Eureka!” (The Sun-Times)
. . . with its bird-focused cop and crimes, it has also located a natural audience: besides environmentalists in general, the novel’s basic passion will ring bells for the world’s considerable contingent of bird-watchers. (London Free Press)
The debut of a major new Canadian talent. (Globe and Mail)
About the Author
Steve Burrows has pursued his birdwatching hobby on five continents. He holds degrees from York, Dalhousie, and the University of Hong Kong, and is the author of a number of articles on environmental issues. A former editor of the Hong Kong Bird Watching Society Magazine, Steve now lives with his wife in Oshawa, Ontario.
Top Customer Reviews
“Professional success seemed a high price to pay if it robbed you of the appreciation of nature’s gifts.”
Jejeune doesn’t care for his job and finds it particularly unfulfilling. He would much rather be out ‘birding’, than chasing down criminals. Just as he studies the minute movements of birds, so does he study humans. He is a people watcher, an expert in watching body language and catching the unguarded facial expression. For someone so young, he is keenly perspective and an astute judge of human nature who always has an eye out for behavioral inconsistencies.
Jejeune’s second in command is Sergeant Danny Maik, a seasoned policeman, recently back from medical leave for heart problems. He is an ‘old school’ copper. Ex-military, and lacking in the university education of Domenic Jejeune. The rest of Jejeune’s team include the young womanizer, Tony Holland, and the astute, middle-aged, female constable, Salter.
Jejeune seems an enigma to his team. His reputation has preceded him. They know he has had great success in his career despite his youth, but they don’t know what to make of his unconventional tactics. The team, and Maik in particular gradually build a grudging respect for this interloper in their midst. I loved reading of the growing relationship between Maik and Jejeune.
“Indeed Sergeant. A lot of birders headed in the same direction in a hurry. That usually only means one thing”.
If Jejeune was amused, he forgot to tell his face.
Jejeune and his team are called out to a murder. A local celebrity, television presenter, and ardent environmentalist has been found hanging from a tree near his cottage. Cameron Brae’s celebrity and that of his pop star second wife, will ensure that this case will be under the utmost public scrutiny.
“As far as the public round here was concerned, opposing Cameron Brae was like kicking Bambi to death”.
No book has every so subtly reminded me of the oh so fragile environmental balance. The author’s love of the natural world, and birding in particular, shines through his writing.
“That’s the beautiful thing about birding, my dear, it’s so remarkable inexpensive. The greatest show on earth, sun up to sun down, all for the cost of a pair of binoculars”.
The writing was beautiful. The author sure knows the value of a well formed turn of phrase. His love of words is evident throughout the novel, and his penchant for collective nouns is belied by the titles of his novels.
“Domenic Jejeune drove without haste beneath a sky the colour of sorrow.”
I must admit, I would never have picked up this book to read if I went solely by the cover (as those who know me KNOW I do). I think the cover is unattractive. The content of the book however belies the cover. This is a well-paced, well-plotted, police procedural mystery that should be enjoyed by all lovers of the genre.
There are two more books in this series that are currently available, and a third that will be published this year. I have already purchased the second novel “A pitying of doves”.
The third and fourth titles in the series are “A cast of falcons” and “A shimmer of hummingbirds“. All of these titles are prime examples of the author’s love of collective nouns.
Highly recommended to all who love a good police procedural mystery.
4.5 stars rounded up for Amazon
I nabbed this wonderful debut novel for my Kindle and knew within pages that author Steve Burrows would be joining my short list of must-read authors. Days later, I heard of a local book signing and was delighted to meet Steve and bring home an autographed book for my 'keeper' shelf.
Within the first few pages of A Siege of Bitterns, I felt utterly transported to Saltmarsh. Mr. Burrows set the scene beautifully and populated the story with characters I quickly came to care about, especially Detective Chief Inspector Dominic Jejeune, a man who is very, very good at his job. Unfortunately, it's a job he's no longer certain he wants. He'd rather be birding. Throughout the book, we're treated to hints and glimpses of a mysterious past that haunts Jejeune and continues to challenge him. I look forward to the ongoing slow reveal of Jejeune's past as the series continues.
A Siege of Bitterns is a fresh take on the traditional English village mystery. I thoroughly enjoyed the insider's view of the addictive and sometimes obsessive world of birding. The author clearly knows his subject and deftly shares details about birds and ecology. (I work with environmental scientists, so the passions and rivalries at play in the book felt both familiar and gratifyingly authentic.)
Based on hints offered up in his Twitter feed, Mr. Burrows is hard at work writing another in the series. Here's hoping he writes quickly, because I can't wait to get back to Saltmarsh for another birder murder with the enigmatic Inspector Jejeune and his team. Very highly recommended.
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“A Siege of Bitterns” is a dazzling birder murder mystery set in the small Norfolk town of Saltmarsh at the heart of Britain’s birding...Read more
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