You know when teachers tell you you are smart and talented but lazy? I've heard it many times. I am sure many of you heard it as well and I am absolutely positive Martin Davies heard it more than once.
He is a talented guy. He managed to create a mystery story that revolves around a stuffed bird. And not even a colourful, exotic one, just a plain grey bird. To be fair, the bird is now extinct and the stuffed specimen is the only specimen in the world. And it is missing. In fact, it has been missing for 200 years or so. Using primary sources Davies created two stories, one is a 19th century romance and the other is a contemporary mystery. I am not a big fan of two intervening narratives because I have OCD that stops me from reading more than one book at a time. I am always tempted to read one story, and then go back and read the other story. Alas, my OCD doesn't allow me to read pages in any other than numerological order either. Sigh.
On the top of that Davies added a story of the narrator's grandfather search for African peacocks. Therefore we have three stories and 305 pages. You do the math.
"That Thursday evening I was working late, removing the skull of a dead owl."
This is the first line and it shows a lot of promise but after that there just rah, rah, rah, bam, bam, bam and off we go. Davies just didn't take his time. The man can write, and he had a good story but everything was barely touched. He did a real disservice to his characters, the poor things looked all like cardboard cut-outs of themselves. The 19th century England was not brought to life either. I had to rely on the vision of the period I had in my head thanks to more hard-working authors.
All in all, a decent beach read for the times when you feel lazy and can only associate with like-minded authors.