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Thursday 18 August 2022

‘A Foreboding of Petrels’ by Steve Burrows

Published by Point Blank,
21 July 2022.
ISBN: 978-0-86154-175-1 (PBO)

It is evident that Steve Burrows is an avid birdwatcher from the titles of the six previous books in this series. Each title contains a bird’s name. I am not a birder, and by no means is it necessary to share Burrow’s passion to enjoy the book, nor to have read the previous books in the series.

Set mainly in North Norfolk with scenes in Antarctica, the story follows two seemingly unconnected investigations. DCI Dominic JeJeune is on suspension, and it is left to DS Danny Maik to investigate a series of arson attacks on the local bird hides. When a researcher is murdered in an Antarctic climate research base, Danny asks Dominic to look into a blog post, ‘I will not live to see the storm petrels return’, posted by a murdered man to see if there is a case to investigate. The research station is linked to the local institute, the pet project of a billionaire philanthropist. On the face of it, the two investigations are not linked. However, when a man is burnt to death in a hide in yet another arson attack, matters escalate. Because of Dominic’s suspension, the two policemen are unable to share information.

Although the novel can be classified as a police procedural, it’s also a book about obsession and principles. There are important issues at stake that the reader is made to confront. How far can one go to achieve a laudable aim? At what point does obsession take over? Can the end ever justify the means? 

Burrows has a literary ability to immerse the reader in the setting, be it the desolation of Antarctica or the remote North Norfolk coastline. There is a warts-and-all depth to his characters and the involved relationships between them are realistically drawn.

This is a novel I could not put down. The clever, complex plot twists kept me reading long into the night. I loved the writing style and his skill at creating characters – I could feel their frustrations and share their concerns. Highly recommended.
Reviewer: Judith Cranswick  

Steve Burrows has pursued his birdwatching hobby on five continents. He is a former editor of the Hong Kong Bird Watching Society Magazine and a contributing field editor for Asian Geographic. He was winner of BBC Wildlife magazine’s ‘Nature Writer of the Year’. Author of the Birder Murder series set in Britain’s prime birding county of Norfolk and featuring Canadian DCI Dominic Jejeune. After travelling the world together Steve now lives with his wife and family in Oshawa, Ontario. 

Judith Cranswick  was born and brought up in Norwich. Apart from writing, Judith’s great passions are travel and history. Both have influenced her two series of mystery novels. Tour Manager, Fiona Mason takes coach parties throughout Europe, and historian Aunt Jessica is the guest lecturer accompanying tour groups visiting more exotic destinations aided by her nephew Harry. Her published novels also include several award-winning standalone psychological thrillers. She wrote her first novel (now languishing in the back of a drawer somewhere) when her two children were toddlers, but there was little time for writing when she returned to her teaching career. Now retired, she is able to indulge her love of writing and has begun a life of crime! ‘Writers are told to write what they know about, but I can assure you, I've never committed a murder. I'm an ex-convent school headmistress for goodness sake!’ Judith latest book is Peril in Persia. 

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