A Shimmer of Hummingbirds by Steve Burrows is the 4th installment in his Birder Murder Mystery series. I read it the last week of May in Parry Sound, a week of extreme heat, and I felt just as over heated as Chief Inspector Domenic Jejeune who was searching for birds in Columbia. He was also searching for the truth about the circumstances of his bothers experience there some time earlier.
Domenic’s brother, Damien, is presently a fugitive, sought by the Columbian government after the deaths of several indigenous people who had been exposed to disease by a tourist, a birdwatcher, apparently taken into their territory by Damien Jejeune. Domenic would like to believe that his brother was not at fault, but it is entirely possible that he is.
Domenic has joined a tour himself, hoping to see some of the rare species of birds in Columbia, especially the many varieties of hummingbirds. Also on the tour is an old friend from Canada, Traz, who knows the brothers well.
Meanwhile, back in Saltmarsh, while Jejeune is on holiday, an old colleague of his is taking his place at the North Norfolk Constabulary. Detective Chief Inspector Marvin Laraby. Laraby worked with Jejeune in London on a very high profile kidnapping and murder case, the one that made Jejeune’s reputation. There was no love lost between these two men when the case was concluded, and nothing has changed since to make things any better. Laraby seems to fit right in, with Danny Maik working alongside, and a chummy relationship developing with a female officer. Laraby is enjoying his time in Saltmarsh.
The case currently being investigated involves the murder of a woman who was part of an investment group. She had been an accountant and was managing the money of several local members of the aristocracy who had plans to invest in drone technology to be used in re-forestation. After her death it seems that each one of the investors had a strong motive for wanting her done away with, and figuring out who was the culprit is not an easy task.
The novel seamlessly weaves it’s way from Jejeune in Columbia, to his partner, Lindy, at home in North Norfolk and the investigation being led by Laraby in Saltmarsh.
Steve Burrows once again does an excellent job of writing a suspenseful murder mystery while exploring the lives of his characters. I was struck by a conversation early in the novel. “It breaks your heart a little bit at a time, doesn’t it, this job?” said Salter sadly. “It can,” said Danny Maik quietly, “if you let it.” Danny finds escape in Motown music and a protective layer that traps so much inside, while Jejeune escapes to the birds. In this novel we discover more about Domenic Jejeune’s past, and see a deepening bond between Domenic and Lindy, separated by such a distance, when both are in danger from unknown perpetrators.
As always, Steve Burrows gives us another great read, and on to the next!