The Birds that Stay is a mystery novel by author Ann Lambert. It serves as the beginning to a new Russell and Leduc series. I found it to be quite engaging, even though I felt it dragged in a few places.
I was provided a free copy of The Birds that Stay for review. The opinions are my own.
For those who don’t know, Ann Lambert has been writing and directing for the stage for 35 years with a number of her works being produced in Canada, the U.S., Australia, and Sweden. The Birds that Stay serves as her debut novel, and I have to say, she did well.
Here’s the official synopsis:
Winter approaches a small village north of Montreal where an old woman is found strangled outsider her home. Roméo Leduc, the enigmatic Chief Inspector for Homicide, is one day away from his first sabbatical in years, but investigates despite his best efforts to escape. Marie Russell, the deceased’s neighbor, values her quiet winters, but becomes embroiled in solving the murder when a clue links the crime to a horrific incident Marie witnessed in her youth. Russell and Leduc combine wits to find the killer, and are forced to face demons from their own pasts as they pursue a case where no one and nothing are really as they seem.
I liked Marie Russell as one of the protagonists. She is a divorced naturalist who has to make certain arrangements for her mother with Alzheimer’s. Marie is in her late 50’s and has two children (if I remember correctly). It’s not usual to have mystery stories with an older woman as one of the leads. So, I appreciated the change.
Marie’s mother offers a clue related to the murder and it allows Marie to team up with Leduc. I have a feeling they (Marie and Leduc) are going to strengthen their relationship romantically as the series progresses, and you know what? I wouldn’t mind if they do. They have chemistry.
The Birds that Stay is set in Montreal and is thus very Canadian. Even if you don’t understand a lot of French, the context can help you figure out what is happening or being said in the novel.
There are a lot of questions surrounding this case and it is fun to see the leads trying to find the correct answers. As the story progresses you will realize there is something quite deep going on. It does make use of certain political events especially the one about how after World War II, thousands of Nazis fled to Hungary, and how many sought asylum in the West after the 1956 revolt was ended by the Soviets. Canada, by providing safety to people fleeing the communists also allowed for the infiltration of thousands of Nazis and Nazi sympathizers. So, you can tell where this story is coming from and what it wants to say.
As for the portions that dragged, I think they had more to do with how the particular narrative might have worked better on stage. We get flashbacks and a sequence involving old letters. I don’t know if you will agree, but to me, the first half of the book is quite slow paced. Not necessarily boring per se, but something which takes its time to move the plot along.
Furthermore, numerous characters are introduced who don’t always have anything to do with taking the story toward the finish line. The Birds that Stay is also more than 200 pages long on a Kindle, so be prepared for the slow pace.
However, having said all of that, I appreciate Ann Lambert for creating a murder mystery starring older leads. And yes, I look forward to a sequel.
The Birds that Stay is currently available from where books are sold.
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Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.
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