The Conjurer's Bird

Martin Davies, Author . Shaye Areheart $24 (384p) ISBN 978-1-4000-9733-3

BBC TV producer Davies, the author of mysteries starring Sherlock Holmes's housekeeper, turns his attention to the search for "the rarest bird ever recorded" in this gripping book of literary suspense. In 1774, on Captain Cook's second expedition to the South Pacific, a single specimen of a thrushlike bird was captured. The bird entered the collection of eminent naturalist Sir Joseph Banks—but then it disappeared. Moving adroitly between the 18th and the 21st centuries, Davies indulges in clever speculation about the bird's whereabouts and adds an appealing strain of romance surrounding the identity of Banks's mistress, "Miss B." Alternating chapters chronicle the adventures of Fitz, a present-day London conservationist who's agreed to try to find "the Mysterious Bird of Ulieta" at the urging of a woman he once loved—but it's his spunky female graduate student whose ingenuity and indefatigable research do much to keep the plot spinning past red herrings, dead ends and the machinations of unscrupulous people racing to find the bird first. A third subplot concerns Fitz's grandfather's search for the Congo peacock, and it is to Davies' credit that he renders the novel's botanical and zoological details with an immediacy that helps along the narrative. A few farfetched plot twists aside, this is a captivating novel. (Nov. 22)

Reviewed on: 08/29/2005
Release date: 12/01/2005
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FORMATS
Open Ebook - 400 pages - 978-0-307-34587-5
Paperback - 384 pages - 978-1-4000-9734-0
Hardcover - 544 pages - 978-0-7862-8528-0
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