Tag Archives: British mystery

Review: A Shimmer of Hummingbirds, by Steve Burrows

Book cover: A Shimmer of Hummingbirds, by Steve Burrows. Green cover, three black hummingbird silhouettes.

A Shimmer of Hummingbirds, by Steve Burrows (Dundurn, 2017)

“The cold lay across the land like a punishment.”

How’s that for an opening line to set the scene? In this classic mystery, the cold land is coastal northern England in December. When readers start getting too vicariously chilly, the next chapter will take us to the heat of Colombia.

Not only is there a murder for the local British constabulary to solve, but Detective Chief Inspector Domenic Jejeune has left the country. After a rival is brought in to replace him—one who appears easier to work with—will Jejeune have a job to come back to?

And will his impulsive birding trip to Colombia turn up anything that can clear his brother of the serious criminal charges against him?

A Shimmer of Hummingbirds is book 4 in the Birder Murder Mystery series: clean, engaging mysteries with vibrant settings, complex characters, and clever turns of phrase. I am so enjoying this series, which seems to draw me further in with each book.

Readers could begin here and not feel lost, but to fully appreciate the characters’ backgrounds and relationships it’s worth beginning with book 1, A Siege of Bitterns.

Readers with an interest in birds and birding, in the English countryside, and in environmental issues will most appreciate the series, but it’s an excellent choice for anyone who appreciates well-told mysteries that make you think.

To learn about author Steve Burrows and his books, visit steveburrows.org.

[Review copy from the public library.]

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Review: A Cast of Falcons, by Steve Burrows

Cover art: A Cast of Falcons, by Steve Burrows

A Cast of Falcons, by Steve Burrows (Dundurn, 2016)

Detective Chief Inspector Domenic Jejeune is a Canadian serving on the local police force in Norfolk, England.

By this point in the series (book 3) his colleagues are beginning to trust that however erratic his methods, he’ll solve the crime. Except this time he seems distracted by an unconnected death that’s not even local.

This time the mystery centres around rival research groups and a controversial plan to mitigate global warming. The murder victim had switched sides and is found on the property of his former employer. With the company owned by wealthy internationals, Jejeune’s superintendent insists he not turn the investigation into a political crisis.

As the story plays out, it’s interesting to watch the developing relationships between the characters. And as always, readers will find richly detailed natural settings and sightings of birds both rare and common.

There are some continuing threads from previous books, but a person could begin here and not be lost.

A Cast of Falcons is book 3 in the Birder Murder Mystery series, which is at least 7 books long. Book 1 is A Seige of Bitterns. For more about the book and about Canadian author Steve Burrows, visit steveburrows.org.

[Review copy from the public library.]

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Review: A Siege of Bitterns, by Steve Burrows

A Siege of Bitterns, by Steve Burrows (Dundurn Press, 2014)

It’s always a treat to find a new series I like, and when the books are from a Canadian author it feels like an extra bonus. Enter the Birder Murder Mystery series, recommended to me by a birder friend some time ago.

Inspector Domenic Lejeune is too good at his job. So he sticks with policing when he’d rather be hiking across marsh and cliff in search of rare birds. A Canadian serving in the UK police force, he can at least enjoy the location of his new posting. Norfolk is prime birding country.

He only has to overcome the distrust of his fellow officers while solving a high-profile murder case. On the plus side, the deceased was an avid birder. Minus side: the birding community doesn’t trust him any more than his new co-workers do.

Nicely plotted, with a broad cast of characters and complications, A Siege of Bitterns is a satisfying read. It’s one of those omniscient point of view books that drops into multiple heads in the same scene, which always confuses me a bit. Maybe because of the omniscience, it feels like more of a thinking, or puzzle, sort of story instead of a heart one. My brain appreciated that. I’ll definitely be reading more in the series. 

Favourite line:

It was meant to be a smile, but Maik got some sense of the last sight a swimmer might see when a Great White Shark approached. [page 81]

Book 1 in the Birder Murder Mystery series, A Siege of Bitterns received the 2015 Arthur Ellis Award for Best First Novel. You can find Canadian author Steve Burrows here: abirdermurder.com.

[Review copy from the public library. I read the print version, but the digital version is available to libraries through Hoopla Digital.]

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