The Bottom Line
The fourth book in the Bob White Birder Murder mystery series, Falcon Finale will not disappoint readers familiar with Bob’s passion for finding birds and his predilection for finding himself embroiled in intrigue. For the first time, author Jan Dunlap expands Bob’s birding range beyond Minnesota and he not only finds new birds in Flagstaff, Arizona, but also delicate environmental and cultural issues, family turmoil, and of course, bodies, this time more than one – and of more than one species. Easy to read and packed with birds, action and excitement, Falcon Finale is an enjoyable book that belongs in the library of all birders and mystery lovers.
- Small birding details, including birding metaphors and comparisons, keep all plot lines connected to birding even when birds are not the primary focus of the ongoing action.
- Richly detailed information about birds, from identification tips to bird behavior to how to be a better birder, makes the book informative as well as entertaining for birders of all experience levels.
- Multiple subplots are well developed to enhance characters with enough backstory in place so the book can stand alone in the Birder Murder series for readers unfamiliar with Dunlap’s previous books.
- Dunlap’s stream of consciousness narrative can seem choppy and distracting but is easy to follow as readers adjust to the character’s thoughts and personality.
- Plot twists right to the end of the book add climatic excitement but can be confusing with a “rushed” feeling toward the conclusion.
- Title: Falcon Finale
- Author: Jan Dunlap
- Publisher: North Star Press of St. Cloud, Inc.
- Publication Date: September 2011
- Format: Softcover
- Page Count: 215
- ISBN: 978-0-87839-448-7
- Price: $14.95
Review - Falcon Finale
Passionate birder and dedicated high school counselor Bob White is back in Falcon Finale, the fourth book in Jan Dunlap’s Birder Murder mystery series. Instead of chasing birds at home in Minnesota, this time he has to chase his missing friend and new brother-in-law Alan Thunderhawk to Arizona, where missing people, paternity tests, local politics, Native American tribal land disputes, bird poaching and other issues come to the fore. Just when Bob, along with his fiancée Lucy, hopes to find a few birds and settle issues quickly, he discovers “Flagstaff [is] just full of surprises” and readers won’t be surprised to learn that murder, danger and deceit are more on Bob’s list than new lifers.
“For the first time in my life, I actually began to hope I would indeed find a dead body while I was birding.”
Bob’s hopes aren’t misplaced, and he finds much more than one body in this latest mystery. Dunlap weaves delicate environmental issues sensitive to birders throughout the story, gracefully incorporating hot button conservation topics such as sandhill crane hunting, bird smuggling and the illegal feather trade into the text. At the same time, she manages to include a wide range of other birding information in the story, from tips for distinguishing between broad-tailed and ruby-throated hummingbirds to safety tips for birders visiting new and uncertain birding locations. Birders will find themselves nodding along with Bob’s behavior and reactions, and cheering when he does manage to spot a new bird or unravel a twist in the mystery.
Ironically it is eagles, not falcons, that play a pivotal role in Falcon Finale, but a rescued gyrfalcon is an essential co-conspirator to Bob’s observations and detective skills. Other larger-than-life characters, not to mention rare local specialty birds in the Flagstaff area, add color and vibrancy to the story, and Dunlap’s vivid descriptions of both birds and people easily bring the story to life in readers’ minds.
Fans of the Bob White Birder Murder mysteries will be happy to know that Falcon Finale is not a finale to the successful series, but as one of the book’s character’s notes, “we all want to be important, to claim a little bit of time and space – history – for ourselves.” With Bob White and her other memorable characters, tangled storylines and conscientious treatment of birding issues, Jan Dunlap has certainly done that, and this book is one more delightful insight into the mysterious world of birding and the mysteries that can come with it.
Learn more about the other books in the Bob White Birder Murder mystery series: