Excellent start to a cozy mystery series. I thought it was a great quick read and have enjoyed the next 2 books in the series, as well.
A decent start to a series, but a bit confusing at times. Lots of characters, motives & convoluted details that made it difficult to keep things straight. The main character could be developed further to make her stronger and have a clearer "voice". Looking forward to reading the others in the series.
Title: A Rant of Ravens
Author: Christine Goff
ISBN: 0425173607/ Berkley Prime Crime
Cozy Mystery/ #1 in the Birdwatcher's Series
Protagonist: Rachel Stanhope, creative designer for a PR firm
Setting: a bird sanctuary in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado
First Line: Dipped out?
Rachel Stanhope, a talented designer for a public relations firm in New York City, has a marriage in shambles. When she learns that her Aunt Miriam is going on a birding tour of the Mid-East and needs a member of the family to keep an eye on Bird Haven, Miriam's 2,500-acre ranch/ bird sanctuary in Colorado, Rachel makes arrangements to telecommute and packs off to the Rocky Mountains. She barely has a chance to unpack before word's out that there's been a rare sighting of a LeConte's sparrow. When she joins the birdwatchers in an attempt to find the sparrow, she finds the body of a journalist instead--a journalist who'd just threatened to expose Miriam's late husband for illegally selling raptors from Bird Haven. Knowing that her aunt will be the police chief's prime suspect, Rachel decides to do her own investigating, but then Aunt Miriam and three rare birds go missing.
Anyone who's taken a look at my other blog, Kittling: Personal Observations, knows that I've been known to watch a bird or two. When I learned that there was a birdwatcher's mystery series, I simply had to track down the first one and give it a try. I have mixed emotions about A Rant of Ravens. The Colorado setting was well-done, and I did learn about the illegal traffic in raptors and the laws protecting them. Unfortunately, none of the characters really stood out as particularly interesting, and I knew the Bad Guy as soon as he walked into the room. All in all, I'd say this book was average. Will I try the second in the series? Yes, but I'm not going to break any speed records in doing so.
In general, I really enjoy the "Birdwatcher" mystery series, although I like the the two original books (this is the first book in the series) a little better than the later stories because they feature a true ameteur woman sleuth (in this case, a hotel owner) and her sometimes eccentric group of (for the most part) lady bird-watching friends. (The newer two books that I have read feature U. S. government rangers.) The prose in the older books also seem to be a little fresher and a bit better written.
All of the books weave into the plot things that might cause harn for wild Colorado birds. One species is featured per book. Not only are the birds, their habitats, and their activities part of the narrative itself, but the author adds a scientific page about the featured birds at the end of the book.
The stories are decently written, fairly fast paced, and holds my interest throughout. The characters are well-drawn, but could be deeper. The imagery is good, although at times, it can be a little cliche.
In this book, a young woman visits her aunt in her home in the Colorado rockies and becomes involved with her aunt's bird-watching club which consists mainly of eccentric ladies. Then, she discovers the body of a murdered journalist. This leads a complex plot and danger. And, of course, the local flock of ravens provide a major clue.
Another little bird, her aunt's mischevious parakeet who is given free flight in the house, and who has obsession with plucking hair from the heads of unwary guests, not only provides comic relief, but becomes a hero in his own right.
So, dispite a few minor flaws, this story provided a nice, quick read. I would recommend it.
The author gives lots of clues...almost to many to keep straight if you like to solve the mystery before the end. She even leads the heroine down a path that could be the answer but just leads to an exciting ending.
a birds eye view of murder...
First in series mystery - birdwatcher stumbles over dead body