Wednesday, 2 March 2016

A seige of Bitterns - Steve Burrows

Newly appointed police inspector Domenic Jejeune doesn’t mind ruffling a few feathers. Indeed his success has elevated him into a poster boy for the police. The problem is Jejeune doesn’t really want to be a detective at all; he much prefers watching birds.
Recently reassigned to the small Norfolk town of Saltmarsh, located in the heart of Britain’s premier birding country, Jejeune’s two worlds collide with the grisly murder of a prominent ecological activist. His ambitious police superintendent foresees a blaze of welcome publicity, although doubts soon emerge when Jejeune’s best theory involves a feud over birdwatching lists. A second murder does little to bolster confidence.
Jejeune must call on all his birding knowhow to solve the mystery and deal with unwelcome public acclaim, the mistrust of colleagues and his own insecurities. For, in the case of the Saltmarsh birder murders, the victims may not be the only casualties…

The plot line of this book reminded me a lot of all those Agatha Christie books I used to read many years ago. But I out grew them and this is how I felt about this book. 

As the book cover tells us Jejeune doesn't want to be a detective, so that doesn't really endear you to him as he harps on about it through his internal dialogue. He likes watching birds and so too I feel does the author. To have this much knowledge of birds to this level the author has either researched so very deep or is already a birder himself. Yes there was a mystery in this book,  but it is so routed in the concept of birds that it just began to turn me off reading the book. At one point the main character Jejeune goes to visit a house and is admiring the garden and then he starts to think about the birds he sees. I found myself saying out loud "enough with the birds!" 

Don't get me wrong, to begin with I was totally fine with the concept of the plot being linked to birding, but this was too much for the average reader.Really the book is so very heavily routed in the birding culture that I doubt many people will make it to the end of this book. 

I got to page 188 and Jejeune announced he knew who the killer was - thank goodness for that I exclaimed - except the book is 344 pages in length, so what was going to take up the rest of the book........... a second murder!

There was some good exploration of the characters and the one that most intrigued me was Maik, I really enjoyed the parts of the book that his voice narrated. A lot of the other characters I found very flat and dull and they held no interest for me.

I don't do spoilers but the scribbled note that sets Jejeune off on his investigation - I just knew from the start wasn't what he thought it was - and I'm NO birder.

I understand the author now lives in Canada. But if you are going to set a novel in Norfolk, England then terms like cell phone and other transatlantic phrases need to be changed in the book. As a reader they just irked me.

I'm giving this book 3 out of 5 stars. 

My thanks go to Real Readers for a free advance copy of this book in exchange for a review.

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