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Books, Birds & Beer with Steve Burrows


A Tiding of Magpies is the 5th installment in Steve Burrows Birder Murder Mystery series, and as one might expect it begins with a murder. While out looking for birds Detective Chief Inspector Domenic Jejeune discovers of a body, a man, shot through the head and burned beyond recognition.

Jakub Kowalski, a member of the local Polish community, and a mercenary bird hunter is missing, and his mother is contacted by the North Norfolk Constabulary and told about the body.

The murder is investigated by Detective Chief Inspector Domenic Jejeune and Sergeant Danny Maik. These two have worked together for some time and have developed an understanding and loyalty, about their work and their personal lives, though it is unspoken.

In the middle of all of this is another investigation involving Jejeune and a previous case. It was a case of kidnapping and the rescue of the Home Secretary’s daughter that skyrocketed Jejune to celebrity detective when he returned the young woman safely home. There is a young investigator asking a lot of questions, and though she admires Jejune she is confused about some of the evidence and what it might mean. Jejune himself, had some uncomfortable feelings about the case, as does Danny Maik.

As both of these investigations proceed there is yet another complication, when a brutal and clever criminal is released from prison and is threatening Jejeune’s partner, Lindy.

As always, Steve Burrows manages to weave many strands of story into his novel – there is the Polish community, resented by many – there is possibly human trafficking – there is environmental concern about invasive species, both birds and plants.

We come to know both Jejeune and Danny Mack more with each novel. Maik with his love of Motown music, his escape from the stress of the job, while Jejeune’s is bird watching, both his relaxation and pleasure, often involving ravel to places of remote beauty.

Lindy and Domenic speak of a trip to Canada, and in describing his home country, Damien claims, “Newfoundland was where God had come up with the blueprints for heaven”. I could certainly suggest it as a place of rugged beauty with a lot of birds, and think that Trinity Bight and the Bonavista shoreline have many good cliffs for pushing someone off – and lots of windy days to make it easy to pretend it was simply an accident.

Needless to say, the investigation is all resolved in the end but the occurrences in this novel leave Domenic Jejeune exhausted physically and emotionally, and A Tiding of Magpies leaves the reader wondering what will become of this Detective to whom we’ve become quite attached over all of these books.

Perhaps Steve Burrows will give us a hint of what is to come when he speaks at Trestle Brewing on the evening Monday 13 August, from 7 – 9 pm. Tickets are available at Parry Sound Books and through the Trestle Brewing website.

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