The Birds That Stay

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 22 Jan 2019

Member Reviews

A great start to (I hope) a series of a Canadian detective - I loved the description of the setting and thought the central mystery was compelling as well.
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This is set in Quebec and has some lovely descriptions of the culture and history of Quebec, which really adds to the weight of the story.

An elderly woman is found dead at home and so the local police begin their investigation. Something doesn’t feel quite right to the Chief Inspector somhe cancels everything to concentrate on this case, even a Holliday.

Chief Inspector Roméo, has his own family issues as well those of the old woman’s neighbour, Marie….all building a picture of the people and the area.

This is a slow burn of a novel, with lovely evocative writing leading to the final reveal. Clever and absorbing.

I would like to thank the Author/the Publishers/NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book for free in exchange for a fair and honest review
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A murder has happened. The detective has been called, and as enquiries progress the detective and the victim's neighbour team up to solve the mystery.
This sounds promising, and that was why I picked up this book. Taking place in a bilingual town, it was good to read the characters switching between English and French easily. This may be a problem for those who are not comfortable with French. 
As I read, I found myself unable to get involved in the book. A mystery is all about involving the reader on the journey to solve it. But this book, I just could not get involved in it. The writing is rather choppy. Someplaces it flows through and holds your interest. Some places it doesn't. The whole thing added to the disinterest. It was not something I enjoyed. 
Three stars for the plot and the characters.
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Sometimes it’s hard to know whether I like a book because of its qualities or because it covers delightfully familiar terrain. I really enjoyed reading Anne Lamber’s The Birds That Stay, and I know it’s largely because it takes place in contemporary Quebec — but I also found this to be one of those thoughtful mysteries that delves below the surface. An older woman is murdered north of Montreal in the Laurentians. As the story unfolds, it focuses on one of the neighbours Marie Russel, on Detective Romeo Leduc and on an apparent con artist operating in seniors’ homes in Montreal. The mystery isn’t that complicated. But I really liked the characters and the strong sense of time and place. Lambert uses the story as an opportunity to explore some of Quebec’s history and contemporary cultural complexity. I especially liked Marie and Romeo. Both in late middle age, their struggles with aging parents, adult children and loneliness felt realistic and three dimensional. I hope they surface in future books Lamber writes. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an opportunity to read an advance copy.
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In a small village in the Laurentian Mountains of Quebec, Inspector Romeo Leduc is called out to the suspicious death of Anna Newman. At first it appeared the reclusive 86 year old had fallen from a ladder, but upon closer examination it is discovered that she was strangled.
Marie Russell is dealing with her mother Claire's worsening dementia. She didn't know her neighbor, but her mother seems to recognize her picture in the local papers coverage of her death. But she thinks it is someone from Marie's childhood who was involved in a devastating accident from the past.
Leduc and Russell join forces in the investigation and uncover connections to the crime, going back to World War  2. 
This is a lyrically written, deliberately paced mystery. Full of background information and historical notes. With charming characters you grow to care about. 
This is the first of an intended series and I look forward to reading more!
Thank you to Second Story Press and NetGalley for the free ebook in exchange for an honest review.
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3 stars Thank you to NetGalley and Second Story Press for allowing me to read and review this ARC. Published February 19th 2019


I had high hopes for this book, but it just did not pull me in like I had hoped. It started out really well with a murder in the Laurentian Mountains of Quebec, just north of Montreal, pulling in the Chief Inspector of Homicide, Roméo Leduc and then engaging Marie Russell, next door neighbor to the victim.

However, as the book continued it felt, not especially disorganized, but jagged and choppy. Reading well at one point, then dragging at many others. It did not have a smooth continual narrative to it. It seemed as though it lost something about midway in - I felt a total disconnect. I just really never felt the draw to pick the book back up. When I did, it would read okay, for awhile, then I would lose all interest in it again.

This being the start of a series based in Canada, I had hoped for a good mystery set in a nice nature spot, with a recurring detective solving many cases. I still hope for that. Although I sadly don't believe that the series has gotten off to a very good start.
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A well-written murder mystery that takes place in a small Canadian town. What looks like a murder with a robbery as a motive at the beginning proves to be erroneous and much more complicated as one thinks. There are many different characters and different story-lines that seem to have nothing in common but turn out to be connected as the plot unfolds. I like the Canadian flair and elaborately delivered the atmosphere of a small Canadian town. It was interesting to get to know the history of the Canadian post WWII period of time. My complaints are actually absence of any investigation, (view spoiler).
I found also the romance out of place here, it would be better without.

I'd like to read more by the author, but I don't think I will continue with this series.
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I enjoyed the setting and the plot but felt that the writing style was not my favorite. Back stories and many plot points felt more like an information dump that being experienced by the characters. Most of the characters felt flat and not like full people. The interactions between them on a personal level felt equally fake. I especially did not believe the romance that got tacked on at the end as there was not build up or chemistry in the narrative until the end. The plot has not particularly original but I would have given it three stars, especially for the historical details on anti-Semitism in Canada, except for one thing. Two scenes presented as memories of child molestation were presented with no commentary and no purpose to the plot. It felt like the author thought she had to include them for some reason.
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In a small place north of Montreal, an old lady is found dead, strangled and frozen outside. Who would ever do such a thing to a woman of more than eighty years? Not far from the scene of crime Marie cares about her mother Claire who is suffering from Alzheimer’s. It’s time to move her to a home where better care can be taken of her. When her mother sees the report of the murder in the newspaper, she refers to old Mrs Newman as Mrs Kovak and is convinced that the victim is her former neighbour. Just the talk of a demented woman or a memory that will reveal a lot about the case and the motive of the murderer?

Ann Lambert’s novel takes quite an interesting turn that I didn’t expect at all. To a murder case she adds a bit of Canadian history that is not often heard of, one of those things people prefer to forget about because it is embarrassing. What I appreciated most was how the author managed in her debut to intertwine different plot lines that at first seem to be totally independent without any connection.

It is mainly two aspects that made me ponder while reading the novel. First of all, I had never heard of the Canadian position towards European refugees after WW II and most certainly didn’t I ever connect the country with the idea of being a refuge for Nazi collaborators. Second, the novel provides an interesting study of human nature, Tomas/Ennis is seemingly lacking any kind of compassion and willing to do everything to get what he deserves in his opinion. Both of them linked inevitably lead to the question if there is something “running in the blood” – the father part of the most atrocious crimes of the 20th century and the son likewise ruthless? Apart from the plot, I liked Lambert’s style of writing a lot and I am looking forward to reading more from her.
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The beginning of what looks like a fabulous new series!! Such a fine read.  I almost wish I hadn't read it so I could savor it again. Thanks to the publisher and to NetGalley for the ARC.
 #TheBirdsThatStay #NetGalley
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This excellent debut novel takes place in the Laurentian Mountains, north of Montreal. Marie Russell is a divorced nature writer and mother of two grown children. She lives quietly in a cottage with no close neighbors. One of her neighbors, however, is Madame Newman, a woman in her eighties living a spartan and reclusive life. The semi-retired handyman, Louis Lachance, is perhaps the closest person to being a friend, but even he knows nothing about her past. When he finds her outside her cottage, strangled and frozen, he is the only one to mourn her. Chief homicide investigator, Roméo Leduc is just days away from his first vacation in two years, but this investigation will put an end to that. Leduc at first thinks that it might be a botched break-in by a local biker gang but quickly realizes there is more to this crime than meets the eye. Finding out just who Madame Newman was is the key. Marie and Leduc cross paths when Marie's mother, who suffers from dementia, identifies the dead woman from a photo in the paper as a Mrs. Kovak, who lived in the same suburban neighborhood that Marie grew up with. Marie is not at all sure that her mother is correct, but does remember the Kovak family, They were refugees from the Hungarian uprising in the 1950s. Her remembrances spurred in part by the sale and closing of her childhood home and moving her mother into a care facility make her do a little detective work of her own.

The Birds That Stay takes us from post-WWII Hungary to Canada in the 70s and 80s, not all that different to the US of the same era. Many women of the time lived stifled by the mores of the day. Marie's mother and Mrs. Kovak were no different. Mr. and Mrs. Kovak had secrets of a more severe kind and those secrets led to not only her death but others. There are multiple overlapping stories told but all the characters are beautifully realized and memorable. Along the way, Roméo and Marie form the tentative beginnings of a relationship, one that I am looking forward to watching in the future.

I highly recommend The Birds That Stay for its characterization, sense of place and well-plotted mystery. I am already looking forward to the next in the series. Thanks to NetGalley and Second Story Books for an advance digital copy. The opinions are my own.

RATING- 4 Stars
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Chief Inspector for Homicide, Romeo Leduc, is called to investigate when an elderly woman is found strangled and frozen in her yard.

Leduc s scheduled to start his vacation the next day, so he's reluctant to take on a new case .. but he reluctantly does his job. There have been a series of robberies, maybe this s a robbery gone bad. Or it could be a violent hate crime.

Mary Russell lives next door to the victim and her Alzheimer-suffering mother unintentionally says something out of the blue .. something that might link to the death of her neighbor.

Marie and Romeo wind up working in tandem when they discover that the murder may have links even further back ... to the end of WW2.

This debut novel follows them from today to yesterday to yesteryear causing each of them to face their own pasts. There are deeply hidden secrets and who can they trust when no one is who they seem to be?

Although slow paced, this is a nice mystery with likeable characters. My one complaint is that french words / phrases are sprinkled throughout the story and having to stop and look them up on the computer took away the continuity of the story for me.

Many thanks to the author / Second Story Press / Netgalley for the digital copy of this crime fiction. Opinions expressed here are unbiased and entirely my own.
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This book was very confusing at the beginning. It was hard to keep up with all the characters. I keep jumbling them in my mind. This book gets better though once the connection between the characters start to unfold.
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It is not often that I read books set in Quebec and I really enjoyed this one and the setting definitely added to that enjoyment. 

This book is a mystery, the story surrounding a possibly murdered old lady, nazi's, and a lot of changed identities. There are a lot of characters and at first they were a bit confusing to keep track of but once I got into the story they started to fall into place.

I found that there was just enough mystery to keep me interested, but also enough slower parts to learn about the characters, the town, and the details that were really great about this book.

I loved that this book taught me something about a dark part of Canadian history and was also very interesting at the same time.
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Please don't give up this book too early. I have no idea why an author thinks it will be interesting telling us about a murder and then write a very long chapter about some things that have nothing to with said murder. But the plot of this book is actually very good (when it's on), and the characters and the dialogue are excellent.
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Several threads run concurrently throughout this thoughtful thriller.  Separate storylines seem unconnected at first, but slowly, inexorably, they are woven together until all is revealed in a stunning conclusion.   Visceral and intellectual.
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This book is set in Quebec (I have read a few Bones books set here before). This story gave me a very leisurely tour of the cultural backdrop of the place as well as the current mix of lifestyles within the different communities. To those of us who learn about the western world vicariously through the books and TV shows, such books will always be a draw. An old woman is found dead in her home and the local police is put on the case. There seem to be many small niggling things that bother the Chief Inspector enough to put a well deserved holiday on hold (or even cancelled) to delve deeper into the case. Next door to the woman (almost) lives Marie Russell who keeps popping random bird (and a few animal) facts as she is writing a rough draft in her head for a children's book. She has lived in Montreal since she was a child and is now old enough to crave grandchildren. Her thoughts are the main source of cultural information for us as she navigates the reality of her mother's illness, her past, her kids and ex-husband. They are a constant train and chug along as and when the scenery changes. Some of these recollections got a little repetitive and a few could have been avoided as they do not add to the story at large but then again we normally do not have control over nostalgia once given a free rein. Her entry into the investigation is more gradual.

Chief Inspector Roméo, is following up all leads with help from his team. He has family issues as well and it is more fleeting than Marie's but provide us with more fuel to paint a picture of that part of the world going back all the way to 1970s. The ending cannot be completely guessed since there are too many pieces but one of the main reason I give this book four stars is its unique setting and the lead characters are not the usual dashing winners who just snap their fingers for their happily ever after. This is heavier than your average mystery book but worth reading!
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This is the rare and wonderful mystery that actually expands near the conclusion as you learn the true  back story.  Romeo Leduc is a classic world weary detective- overworked and without a personal life (well, there's a selfish daughter).  When an elderly woman is found dead in her home, his first thought is that he's going to miss his long planned vacation but then things quickly change when he realizes it's a murder.  Who was Madame Newman and why would someone kill her?  At the same time, her neighbor Marie Willis is coping with moving her mother into a care home.  Ennis Jamieson is an attorney who has a racket going with other elderly residents there. How these three intersect will take some time but it's totally worth it.  Lambert has a great way with her characters- the handyman, the local ne'er do well (and his little dog Pitoune)- and with the atmospherics of the Laurentians.  This has at its root a shameful, deeply horrible part of history and the role that Canada (and the US) played in its aftermath.  Well constructed and written, this is a boffo read.  Thanks to the publisher for the ARC. I'm hoping there will be more.
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Thank you to NetGalley, Ann Lambert and Second Story Press for an ARC of this book, in exchange for an honest review.

A beautifully written novel, set in the Laurentian Mountains of Quebec, where a reclusive older woman is found strangled and frozen outside her home. Roméo Leduc, the Chief Inspector for Homicide, answers the call on the case. 

Marie Russell, a 58-year old writer and divorced mother of two, lives next door to the victim. When Marie's mother, Claire, who is suffering from dementia, offers a clue that links the woman's murder to a terrible incident that happened on Marie's suburban Montreal street in the 1970's, Marie inadvertently becomes a detective on the case.

This novel is much more than a mystery, it is really beautifully written, engaging, and delivers just the right amount of suspense without being frustrating, nor unbelievable. The characters are likeable, even the characters that are probably not supposed to be. The hardest part with mysteries sometimes is how farfetched and unrealistic they can be, and this was not like that at all. The Birds That Stay rotates between numerous characters, and is interesting to see their different perspectives on events.

I believe this novel sets book two up nicely, and I am really looking forward to it!! And in the meantime - I know just who I need to recommend this to!! 

Available on 19th Feb, 2019.
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I had mixed feelings about this book, and i was hesitating between 2 and 3 Stars. 
The first half was really slow, two many sides stories were included, and i didn't feel that interested in the story. The last 30% percent of the book made the whole story much better and it was at that point that i started enjoying it, hence the 3 stars.

An old recluse woman was found dead in her garden. Was it an accident, or murder? No next of kin were located, and nothing about her past was discovered. 
There wasn't much of an investigation and a guessing game of which suspect is the criminal. It was more like waiting for all the pieces to fall together so that we can see the whole picture.
I found the story behind the crime very interesting, it included some historical facts or explanations about the post-war period in Canada, something that was completely new for me and i liked learning about it. Other that that, i really didn't care much for the characters. I found the romance unnecessary and it felt rather "un peu tirée par les cheveux".
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