Thursday, April 13, 2017

Every Trick in the Rook (A Birds of a Feather Mystery #3)

Author:  Marty Wingate
Genre:  Mystery

Alibi - Random House Publishing
251 Pages
$4.99 Amazon
March 7, 2017


Julia Lanchester is flying high.  She's nesting with her boyfriend, Michael Sedgwick, and she's found her niche as manager of the tourist center in her picturesque British village.  Thanks to all her hard work, visitor traffic is up - way up.  Her reward is an even more hectic schedule.  Michael's busy, too, traveling all over as well as the personal assistant to Julia's father, celebrity orinthologist Rupert Lanchester.  With precious little time together, Julia's romantic weekend with Michael can't come soon enough.

But the getaway is spoiled when Julia's ex-husband is found murdered on her boss's estate.  And after a witness reports seeing Michael near the scene of the crime, the press descends, printing lies and wreaking havoc.  To protect Julia, Michael vanishes into thin air, leaving her to pick up the slack on Rupert's show and track down the real killer - even if it means putting herself in the flight path of a vicious predator.


Julia Lanchester is the manager of the TIC (Tourist Information Center) on the estate of the Earl of Fotheringill.  Her boyfriend Michael Sedgwick works for her father Rupert who is a famous British avian expert with his own television show, A Bird in the Hand.  Since their schedules are very different - Michael is gone quite a bit traveling with Rupert - they've managed to snag a weekend away together.  But before their weekend is over, they're contacted by both Rupert and the police and need to return immediately.

The reason?  Julia's ex-husband Nick Hawkins has been found dead on the Fotheringill estate, and  
the police want to know why he had a photo of Julia and Michael on his person and if they know anything about the murder.  While they both deny any knowledge of Nick's unexpected arrival from his isolated home on St. Kilda in the Hebrides they're now being hounded by 'journos' - those of the magazine rag profession (tabloids) who make up headlines when they can't locate the truth (or don't care to look).

In order to protect Julia from the jackals and unwanted press, Michael (whom they have decided is guilty of the murder) leaves her, hoping to draw them off with him.  Her one saving grace is a young girl named Tennyson who has a pet Rook (of the Corvid family) named Alfie, who is both intelligent and protective, and a master of learned tricks.  He's taken a liking to Julia and leaves gifts for her in the pocket of her Mackintosh.  In fact, he's taken such a liking to her, he shows his displeasure of the journos whenever they come near (if you get my drift).

With her life slowly unraveling before her Julia refuses to allow the police to take their time in finding the true killer and searches for clues herself.  But she doesn't count on being the next target on the killer's list, and it's almost too late before she realizes the person she's been looking for has been using clever tricks of their own...

I enjoyed reading this book immensely.  The characters are given depth; they are believable and have faults like everyone else, which makes them more human somehow.  You can sense the caring that surrounds Julia, from her father to her friends, and while she tries to do it all by herself, there are still those that watch out for her throughout, which makes for a delightful read.

While it may seem to some that the tabloids shouldn't have had this much interest in Julia's ex-husband, we must remember that Rupert is very famous indeed, Julia works for an Earl, and the body was found on the latter's estate.  Those things do make news.  Not to mention the fact that there was someone who was 'feeding the fire' as it were, and keeping the interest alive.  Keeping that in mind will help you enjoy the story.

This is the third book in the series, following The Rhyme of the Magpie and Empty Nest.  This time around, Ms. Wingate has given us a story that merges love and hate together, drawing them tightly into a tale of suspense and uncertainty, and keeps the reader drawn into the narrative until the very end.  When we finally discover the murderer, it is a reason that is as old as time, but always relevant; and it never ceases to amaze me what can be created in the human mind.  Highly recommended.

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