You gotta love a book that starts with a pair of brawling asparagus farmers. The whole first chapter is just charming. Julia Lanchester, manager of an estate tourist center, and her ornithologist boyfriend Michael, are preparing for a long-awaited weekend. Julia also meets a winsome 11-year old, Tennyson and her talented and personable rook, Alfie. Then Julia and Michael are off for their weekend.
But their plans are rudely cut short when the police request their presence. It seems Julia’s ex-husband has been found dead on the estate grounds under mysterious circumstances. The lovely weekend suddenly comes unraveled, and Julia’s life gets a lot more complicated.
For one thing, Michael decides it would be better if he and Julia weren’t together, so he leaves. Julia loses her main support, her carefully structured world comes apart piece by piece, her schedule becomes impossibly crowded, and unsettling events leave Julia with jangled nerves and a police presence for her security.
This is an endearing story, despite the negative events, due to the presence of Alfie and Tennyson. I didn’t know much about rooks, so had to look them up online. Turns out they are similar to crows, but not found in North America. They are considered quite intelligent (Alfie certainly is). How Julia finds her way through all this is an engrossing and inventive.
Does Julia solve the mystery? Does Michael return? What happens to Alfie, Tennyson and Temnyson’s mother? The answers lie within.
I am fast becoming a Marty Wingate fan. This is the second book of hers I have gotten through NetGalley; the first was The Bluebonnet Betrayal. Turns out, Marty is as entertaining with bird stories as she is with flower stories! My thanks to author, publisher, and NetGalley for providing an advance copy for me to read and review.