The death of a young girl brings together a dull female police officer and an equally dull professor who specializes in sorting through classic versions of fairy tales in Littlewood’s lackluster sophomore effort.
When the body of 15-year-old Chrissie Farrell is found after PC Cate Corbin has taken a missing persons report from her mother, Angie, police are stymied to see that the girl’s body has been theatrically arranged. The blonde Chrissie had been crowned queen of a dance she’d attended at school and still wore that crown in death, but someone had also staged her body to resemble Snow White. Angie had received a strange package earlier in the day that revealed a bottle of what appeared to be blood, stoppered by one of her daughter’s toes. In observing the body, Cate’s reminded of the fairy tale and goes seeking Alice Hyland, the professor, who earlier that day had spotted an oddly menacing and out-of-place solid blue bird. As birdwatchers stalk the area searching for the rare bird, additional bodies turn up, also in the guise of fairy tales. Cate and Alice follow the trail, trying to find the killer before he or she strikes again. Billed as both a crime and horror novel, Littlewood reprises the flat, monotone voice she affected in her first book (A Cold Season, 2013). Neither Cate nor Alice nor any of the book’s characters come across as memorable, and readers looking for suspense will be less caught up in wondering when the killer’s next victim will surface than they will be waiting for whatever character Littlewood has on deck to finish the interminable thoughts that string together the much-too-infrequent action.
Tied together by bird sightings, both the main characters spend page after page contemplating what they’ve seen, said and done, making for a frustrating story that will please neither fans of crime nor fans of horror.