Series: Birds of a Feather #1
Source: the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Release Date: June 2, 2015
Challenges: Cruisin' Through the Cozies | May 2015 Clean Sweep ARC Challenge | NetGalley and Edelweiss Reading Challenge | What An Animal
Buying Links: Amazon* | OmniLit* | Kobo | Barnes & Noble
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Blurb from goodreads:
For readers of Laura Childs, Ellery Adams, and Jenn McKinlay, the high-flying new Birds of a Feather mystery series from Marty Wingate begins as a British woman gets caught up in a dangerous plot when her celebrity father disappears.
With her personal life in disarray, Julia Lanchester feels she has no option but to quit her job on her father’s hit BBC Two nature show, A Bird in the Hand. Accepting a tourist management position in Smeaton-under-Lyme, a quaint village in the English countryside, Julia throws herself into her new life, delighting sightseers (and a local member of the gentry) with tales of ancient Romans and pillaging Vikings.
But the past is front and center when her father, Rupert, tracks her down in a moment of desperation. Julia refuses to hear him out; his quick remarriage after her mother’s death was one of the reasons Julia flew the coop. But later she gets a distressed call from her new stepmum: Rupert has gone missing. Julia decides to investigate—she owes him that much, at least—and her father’s new assistant, the infuriatingly dapper Michael Sedgwick, offers to help. Little does the unlikely pair realize that awaiting them is a tightly woven nest of lies and murder.
The cover and the title of this book caught my eye, so bright and cheerful and with a nursery rhyme as inspiration. I grabbed it up.
I know little about birds or birdwatching and I admit, they're not topics I'm keen on. I did wonder if that would affect my enjoyment of the book but happily it did not. While birds, not just magpies, are important to the story, Wingate manages to hit, for me anyway, just the right amount of information without going overboard. But the book is much more than birds; we get environmentalism, historical preservation, family relationships and dysfunction, romance, and of course, a mystery. Several mysteries actually as there's a dead man, a missing man, and even a kidnapping.
There were times when Julia behaved quite immaturely, especially where her family is concerned, and her sulking was annoying. But she begins to realize that things are not necessarily as she remembered them or believed them to be. She starts to change her perspective and to realize that she may have been wrong about some things, including her stepmother. I wasn't keen on the portrayal of her stepbrother and friend, Stephen, as he was so many gay man stereotypes rolled into one. I liked him, but I'd like to see more depth as right now he's mostly cardboard.
The romance with Michael, her father's new assistant, was enjoyable; he's patient with Julia but also knows how to poke her a bit and make her a little less stuffy. I did figure out his secret early on while Julia initially made an idiot of herself when she realized the truth. But again, she realizes she was wrong and apologizes. I very much enjoyed her growth in this book and loved seeing her gain more confidence in her skills at her new job as a tourism manager for an estate and it's village.
The secondary characters, including her co-worker Vesta and their boss Linus and Akash, Vesta's love interest, were interesting. They need a little more fleshing out but they all have potential. The story got very convoluted but most of it kept me guessing and Julia's involvement was entirely natural and believable. "The Rhyme of the Magpie" is a good start to a new series and I'm looking forward to the next one.