cover image Unflappable


Suzie Gilbert. Perch, $19.99 trade paper (326p) ISBN 978-0-578-61200-3

Gilbert channels her interest in wild birds (as documented in the memoir Flyaway) into a rollicking debut novel revolving around the restoration of a bald eagle to a Canadian refuge. Luna Burke’s billionaire financier husband, Adam Matheson, runs a private zoo in Florida and has just stolen an eagle named Mars from a wildlife rescue center in Pennsylvania. Luna hatches a plan to take Mars and his mate—still in Pennsylvania—to Canada. What follows is a vivid primer on the world of wildlife rehabilitators and private zoos as Matheson enlists right-hand man/bodyguard Roland Edwards, a former football pro with a bum knee, to find Luna and Mars. Luna, meanwhile, calls on a naive, reluctant rescue volunteer named Ned; her ex-Navy Seal friend, Warren, who is renowned for single-handedly saving the Florida Panther; and a slew of rehabbers to aid her and Mars on their journey. Also on her trail is Federal Wildlife Officer Erik Gunderman, who is intent on arresting Luna and returning Mars to safety. Gratuitous, clumsily written sex scenes don’t do Gilbert any favors, but she does a great job describing the distinct world of her characters (“We’re the poster group for people with no social skills,” Luna says), and the plot builds nail-biting suspense. Fans of Tiger King will find much to love. (Self-published)