The Bottom Line
Any birding-related fiction is a rare find, but Jan Dunlap does a fine job of combing the passion of birding with an intriguing mystery plot. From the first bird sighting to the last entry on the life list, birders will not only cheer for the protagonist, Bob White, to solve the crime, but to succeed in his chase after the elusive boreal owl, no matter what dangers may stand in the way.
- Superb characterization of the protagonist as a passionate, even obsessive, birder
- Excellent plot twist connects to larger environmental, bird-related issues
- Small details and field markings about mentioned birds add birding depth
- Stream of consciousness writing style can seem choppy and stilted
- Occasional bird name errors may be insignificant to average readers but will stand out to birders
- Questionable ranges of mentioned birds for a Minnesota setting
- Title: The Boreal Owl Murder
- Author: Jan Dunlap
- Publisher: North Star Press
- Publication Date: July 2008
- Format: Paperback
- Page Count: 282
- ISBN: 978-0-87839-277-3
- Price: $14.95
Guide Review - Book Review: The Boreal Owl Murder
There are many birding related books available but very few fiction selections that give birders a chance to immerse themselves in the world of birding at the same time they enjoy a well crafted and intriguing plot. Jan Dunlap’s first Bob White Birder Murder Mystery, The Boreal Owl Murder, provides that opportunity.
Dunlap’s stream of consciousness writing style can seem awkward, but once readers adjust to the book’s flow they will enjoy the plot twists and unexpected complications that arise when Bob White is chasing a nemesis bird, the boreal owl. As Dunlap says, “anyone who has birded for any amount of time knows how competitive some birders can be, especially when it comes to adding elusive birds to their lists.” When that competition is complicated by murder, mystery and misdirection, readers can’t resist. “Who says birding is boring?”
Clever birding anecdotes, from Bob White’s scarlet tanager red car to his birding misadventures, keep dedicated birders engaged in the book and allow them to relate intimately to the characters. While some birds referenced in the book are questionably out of their habitual ranges, their appearance is not necessarily unreasonable for transient birds.
The Boreal Owl Murder is a fine book for a weekend read when heading into the field isn’t an option. Through this book’s fun birding anecdotes and engaging descriptions, birders will feel as though they’re chasing their own boreal owl through its pages.
For more information on the Birder Murder Mysteries, visit JanDunlap.com.