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A Shimmer of Hummingbirds: A Birder Murder Mystery by Steve Burrows


Reviewed by Caryn St. Clair

A Shimmer of HummingbirdsDetective Chief JeJeune is one of the most unusual protagonists I have run across in my reading. Canadian by birth, he fled Canada amid a family scandal which continues to threaten his new life in Norfolk, England. Jejuene, besides being a Detective Chief is also an avid birder giving these books an interesting twist. Though filled with birds, birding terms and bird facts, these are not the cozies one might expect. Make no mistake, the Domenic Jejuene books are police procedurals.

There are three main threads interwoven in A Shimmer of Hummingbirds. Jejuene has planned a birding trip to Colombia to capture as many of the varieties of native hummingbirds as he can for his life list. He also has every intention of doing a little nosing around to see if he can find out more about the legal problems his brother is facing. His superior is well aware JeJuene’s real purpose in the trip, but realizes that nothing she says will change his mind. So off Jejeune goes on his South American adventure while back home Norfolk life continues. Marvin Laraby, JeJuene’s former boss has been named JeJeune’s temporary replacement. The two men did not part on friendly terms so those who worked under Jejuene are at a loss as to how much to share with JeJeune when he calls in. When JeJuene hears of an apparent accident which injures Lindy, JeJuene’s love interest, he asks one of his colleagues to on the sly look into a particular criminal that he and Laraby helped put away. Lastly, a woman is found murdered in her home. All of the evidence points to the motive as something to do with an offer on a project involving drones and reforestation.

Burrows seems to have some environmental twist in some part of the plots in each of his books. This one has two. The obvious one is the need for there to be reforestation in England and the second concerns the natives of Colombia being put at risk by tourists and specifically birders. He includes some notes at the end concerning the second.

Because the characters remain relatively constant from book to book and we as readers only find out bits and pieces of JeJuene’s history in each book, it would seem that the best way to enjoy the books is to start at the beginning with A Siege of Bitterns. However, stepping into the series at any point, it wouldn’t be too difficult to figure out the basics needed to understand the relationships. If you are interested in birding, this series is a must. If you don’t know an owl from a canary nor care to, but are keen on police procedurals, I would still recommend this series. It is just that good.



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