A police detective with a tough case is distracted by moral ambiguities in his own life.
Brilliant DCI Domenic Jejeune (A Siege of Bitterns, 2014) is that rara avis, a Canadian serving in the British police force. Just as the Saltmarsh cops are called in to investigate the brutal murder of environmental scientist Philip Wayland, Jejeune has to leave for the Scottish Highlands, where local police have found a bird guide with his name on it on the unidentified body of a man who fell from a coastal cliff. Jejeune recognizes the book as a message from his reckless older brother, Damian, who’s in trouble with the law and wants his help. Both brothers are avid birders, and Damian made the trip to Great Britain with the dead man, who wanted his help illegally trapping wild gyrfalcons. Filled with trepidation, Jejeune takes Damian back to the Norfolk home he shares with his girlfriend, journalist Lindy Hey. In the meantime, his team, including his sergeant, Danny Maik, has been searching for clues in Wayland’s murder. Wayland was working in carbon-capture research, first at the Old Dairy property financed by Emirati Crown Prince Ibrahim al-Haladin, then switching to the nearby university where his fiancee works, raising hackles among some key parties. The public footpath leading through the Old Dairy property where Wayland was found has been the scene of several protests over the project, which threatens to destroy much of the local coastline, and the protesters are likely suspects. His colleagues naturally wonder why Jejeune is so distracted, and when a young woman working with gyrfalcons on the prince’s land is ostensibly killed by one of them, Jejeune keeps to himself his search for a connection between the man dead in Scotland and his own case.
Burrows’ bird-watching expertise lends authenticity to an excellent mystery whose conflicted protagonist faces hard decisions.