A Pitying of Doves

Written by Steve Burrows

Review written by Stephen Thornley

An avid reader, Stephen's knowledge of Crime Fiction is fairly extensive, with The Golden Age is his greatest interest.

A Pitying of Doves
Point Blank
RRP: £7.99
Released: June 2 2016

Whether or not you enjoy the hobby of birdwatching - this book will appeal. The birder community is an interesting backdrop in which to set a crime fiction series.

This murder mystery, the second in the series is set in and around the beautiful North Norfolk coast. Delightfully descriptive of the scenery of big skies, saltmarshes and vast tracts of flat land, Burrows details the wonderful choreography of the movements of the many visiting flocks of birds. The setting coupled to the complex and enthralling plot, make for a rewarding read for new fans of Chief Inspector Domenic Jejuene.

Jejuene, a Canadian, is a birder when he is not detecting crime for the North Norfolk Constabulary. He is a man with competing passions, his intellect and understanding of people make him a very good detective, but he seems uncomfortable in his role. He dislikes the idea of inquiring into the lives of others only when they are dead. His passion for all things ornithological mean he would, it seems prefer a position in bird conservation. His Sergeant is an ex-military man is the strong, silent and loyal type. They both have their difficulties with relationships.

The book opens with a man driving through a storm to reach his home. He has a box beside him on the passenger seat. As he arrives home he suffers a heart attack and dies. His wife later finds him dead in the car, takes in the box and cleans the car seat where it sat before ringing to report the death.

Now we are at a bird sanctuary some years later, one of the large cages has two dead bodies inside together with some feathers. The bodies are of a young woman and an older man. The young woman is found to be Phoebe Hunter a 24 year old post grad student, after some detective work the man is identified as Ramon Santos a diplomatic attaché at the Mexican Consulate. Phoebe was running the sanctuary as part of her research on migration routes of Turtle Doves.

The Free to Fly bird sanctuary rescues injured and stranded birds found in North Norfolk. It had a number of volunteers working on a rota, but the record keeping of attendance was not a priority. Phoebe’s academic supervisor Dr Nyce seems only interested in self -promotion and appeared to have had little time for her work. Two people are dead and two doves have been stolen. Who would kill for two birds and what was a Mexican Consulate official doing at a bird sanctuary?

Jejuene and his Sergeant [Danny Maik] soon find that they have two prime suspects, but when one is eliminated from the inquiry, ironically after attacking her interviewing officer, the evidence appears to point to one of the people who worked at the sanctuary on community payback. Jordan Waters a career criminal and convicted drug dealer. When results of DNA tests on the feathers left in the cage show that the stolen birds were extremely rare doves worth thousands of pounds the motive seems clear.

However, political pressure to avoid implicating the Mexican Consulate in any underhand involvement, together with warnings from DCS Colleen Shepherd, [Jejuene’s boss], about the need for a quick result puts undue strain for the investigators. Jejuene is not by nature a team player; to be that, you have to trust your colleagues. Can he begin to do that? Playing a solo-hand can be extremely tricky, not to say a dangerous avenue for a Detective to traverse.

There are surprises along the way, and tension increases as the solution of the case approaches. This is a particularly well written book that leaves plenty of scope for opening up the main characters lives’ as the series progresses. This series could take really off.

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