Book Review: The Birds That Stay by Ann Lambert

Popsugar 2019 Reading Challenge Prompt: A book with an item of clothing or accessory on the cover TW: Gangs, murder, Alzheimer...

Popsugar 2019 Reading Challenge Prompt: A book with an item of clothing or accessory on the cover

TW: Gangs, murder, Alzheimer's/dementia, violence

I wasn't totally sure what to expect when I first picked up The Birds That Stay. It sounds a lot like many other crime thriller type novels, but once I dived in, I was really excited for the unique setting - Canada. I don't think I've ever read any other novels with a Canadian setting, so it was a wonderful little change of "scenery" for me, and I really enjoyed getting out of my comfort-zone a little. I will say my biggest takeaway was probably that Canadians really enjoy scotch - just kidding, but really, that's all anyone is drinking in the entire book.

After an old woman is found dead in her garden, suspected homicide, Chief Inspector Roméo Leduc takes on the case. Meanwhile, Marie Russell, a fairly close neighbor, is dealing with the sell of her childhood home and her mother's worsening dementia. Yet her mother's failing memory sparks something that may be a clue in the old women's death. Through a series of intermingled stories, secrets are unburied, and the old women's death may just be the tip of the iceberg.

I enjoyed this book overall, but there were a bit too many characters to try to keep up with. There were chapters from the point-of-view of at least five characters, which was quite the headache trying to keep up with them all. I was often unsure which characters were which and had to flip back to figure it out. Not to mention, the storyline was really broad and the plot was almost overwhelming to try to remember all the little pieces, because it got really deep and stemmed off into bigger and bigger mysteries. There were many characters we only got one or two chapters from and I was left wanting to know more of their specific stories. Granted, this is supposed to be novel number one in a series of "Russell and Leduc" mystery novels, so maybe there's more to come, but more than likely the stories and characters would change with each story in the series. As the area of Quebec they're in is supposedly small, maybe we'd learn more about the same characters or see them again, but that's all speculation.

"...humans are often so contemptuous of urban animals - when they are such survivors... and could probably teach us a lot about how to manage the upcoming climate change cataclysm." - Ann Lambert, The Birds That Stay

I will say the writing was strong, the story was appealing, and I was definitely intrigued. I was invested in a couple of the characters, but others fell a little flat for me (because I didn't have enough information for them, I guess). There was one big mystery that was solved, but didn't feel like it quite wrapped up; I don't know if there'll be more on that in the next book, but I felt unfulfilled by that character's "ending" in the novel.

I would recommend this book, but I think the next novel in the series could make or break it.

Goodreads rating: ★★★★☆

*I received this book free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are 100% my own. 

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