The Boreal Owl Murder
- A Bob White Birder Murder Mystery by Jan Dunlap – North Star Press of St. Cloud, Inc.; 1 edition (July 2008) or Kindle Edition (30 Oct 2009) ISBN: 9780878392773 Author’s Website: Publisher’s View: Birding in Minnesota gets a whole lot wilder when birder Bob White stumbles across a body while chasing the elusive Boreal Owl in the frozen north woods. Once he learns that the dead man is a world-renowned owl researcher, Bob suddenly finds himself in the middle of a murder investigation that not only jeopardizes his high school counseling job, but leads him on a hunt for both his nemesis bird and an unidentified killer. Relying on his birding buddies and his own extraordinary birding skills, Bob becomes a reluctant sleuth as he juggles death threats, drama queens, a scary accountant, his bossy sister, and his gorgeous girlfriend… not to mention bullets and speeding tickets! Birding will never be the same again…Author: To be honest, I didn’t start out wanting to write murder mysteries. I originally wanted to be a poet. Then I wanted to be a teacher. Then I wanted to be an astronomer. Then I wanted to be a priest. Finally, I thought becoming an ornithologist would be cool. I even collected little bird models that you snapped together and painted. They cost about twenty cents each and some had wings that, instead of laying flat against the tiny plastic body, stuck out like the bird was flying. Realism – what a wonderful thing! Then I started first grade and the next thing I knew, I had graduated from college in Denver, gotten married in California, moved to Minnesota and given birth to five kids. At that point, all I wanted was to get some sleep.

And ever since my kids were little, I’ve been pointing out to them the birds that visit our yard or fly overhead.

And then one day it hit me. I should write a murder mystery series about this really nice Minnesota guy who has a passion for birding, but keeps finding bodies along with the birds. Yes, I confess: the fact that my son and husband had been birding for years influenced me a teeny, weeny bit. But they hadn’t been plotting murders – that was all my idea. (You know how long our Minnesota winters can get…) So I took my concept and started writing. Except that a concept is a long way from finishing a novel, let alone finding a publisher. But if nothing else, I can be stubborn, and so, four years after conception (talk about a long gestation!) – my first Bob White Birder Murder mystery appeared in 2008, titled The Boreal Owl Murder. It introduced readers to the wonderful world of birding (sans sunburns and ticks) and me to the crazy world of being an author of fiction. Now it’s five years and four more books later, and I’m working on the sixth novel in the series, slated for publication in September 2014. I hope you enjoy Bob’s adventures as much as I enjoy writing them!

Read more on her website: Fatbirder View: Jan’s books have been doing alright but to spread the word she alerted me to the kindle edition of this book so I could share my views. I did warn her that, while I watch ‘Elementary’ and ‘Sherlock’ et al I can count on my fingers the number of ‘who dunnits’ I’ve actually read.

Moreover, I warned her that I had not, generally, been over impressed with any of the other writers of ‘birder murders’. I have enjoyed a few for their theme but rarely delighted in writing style or plot development. Her email shrugged and she said ‘go for it’ so I did.

So, it was a surprise to find that I read this book in three short sittings… and enjoyed it! I guess it was the literary equivalent of a short overseas birding trip. Not knowing Minnesota and some of the species mentioned I learnt through the process and now know a great deal more about the habits of Boreal Owls than before… not hard as before it was zilch.

The story was pacey and characters all held up. Not knowing Jan’s gender I did feel that the male hero first person had behind it a female pen, which turned out to be the case, but I can’t put my finger on what gave that away. I should have known as this genre niche is almost wholly occupied by women… but that should not surprise as almost all of today’s top crime writers (at least my side of the Atlantic) are women.

The style is good and story line credible.

Do I have a criticism? Just one really, and this is more often the case than not in crime fiction, the hero and the cops rather lag behind the reader in working out what’s going on even although they have the same clues to follow. At least this tale doesn’t fall into the cliché trap of having a dumb cop who brooks no interference.

That small carp aside I enjoyed reading this birder murder and look for the next one in the series to be Kindled.