In a small village in the Laurentians, north of Montreal, a reclusive older woman is found strangled outside her home. Roméo Leduc, Chief Inspector for Homicide, is one day away from his first vacation in years but reluctantly answers the call on the case. Marie Russell lives in the same small community. She did not know her elderly neighbour, and she does not expect to become embroiled in solving her murder. But when a startling new clue emerges, Marie becomes an inadvertent detective. As Marie and Roméo combine wits to find the killer, they are forced to face demons from their own pasts as they confront a case where no one and nothing is really as it seems.
In her debut murder mystery, Ann Lambert manages to elevate an escapist genre into a meditation on the repercussions of horrendous crimes on generations to come.
The Birds That Stay is populated with complex characters, not one of whom has been untouched by some form of trauma, be it divorce, addiction, abuse, abandonment, or betrayal. The skillful way in which these characters are rendered is part of what makes the book so engaging.
Lambert’s craft is honed by years of playwriting, teaching literature, and observing the human condition. She depicts believable characters whose worlds collide when history, in its insidious way, encroaches on the present, and affects future generations.
"...a fascinating and gripping tale of suspense, and there’s even a hint of romance here."
p times="" new="" roman",="" serif;"="">Quebec Writers' Federation - Concordia First Book Prize 2019
Juror comments (full text) p times="" new="" roman",="" serif;"="">Lambert’s prose captures the spirit(s) of Quebec, the push and pull of modernity, particularly in the communities far from the cities, and the beauty that is sometimes forgotten in discussions of provincial politics... Amidst a cast of sympathetic characters who span social classes and carry with them burdens of diverse, often painful personal histories, Lambert interweaves the stories of two winning protagonists who meet via the mystery to be solved... p times="" new="" roman",="" serif;"="">Lambert’s confidence in her characters, her intelligent plot, and digressions that both instruct and delight make The Birds that Stay an engaging and un-put-down-able read.
The setting is the Laurentians, north of Montreal. That leads one to inevitably think of Louise Penny’s Three Pines, but let the comparison stop there. Yes, both are rural and very Quebec, but Lambert is telling a very different story in a very different way.
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With many references to Quebec that will be familiar to those who know the province, the book may also appeal to fans of Louise Penny's Chief Inspector Gamache series.