Bird's Eye View
J. F. Freedman
Warner, 2002 (2001)
Hardcover, Paperback, Audio, e-Book
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Reviewed by Hilary Williamson
his is the first book that I've tried by this author and I read non-stop. The protagonist, Fritz Tullis, is a bit of an anti-hero, a rising star in academia who fell by the wayside, the victim of an ill-chosen love affair with an older woman married to a major benefactor of his university. He has holed up in a hastily renovated sharecropper's shack on the edge of a Maryland swamp, on land owned by his moneyed family in the Chesapeake Bay area. There he drinks too much, enjoys casual affairs and spends his days in bird watching and photography.
knew that I'd enjoy this book when I opened it up to an introductory verse from
The Wild Swans at Coole
by the great Irish poet W. B. Yeats. The theme of birds and bird watching goes beyond the title and poem, when Freedman introduces us to Ollie, an extremely rare whooping crane who has lost his way and joined a flock of sandhill cranes, who also don't belong in this region. Ollie is a rare find and Fritz's current consolation - he watches the bird, takes countless photos and guards his privacy, delaying the time when he will have to notify the authorities of Ollie's existence.
ritz Tullis is a New Age hard-boiled dick. He shares the heavy drinking attributes of more traditional PI's, but doesn't smoke, loves his eighty-three year old mother, and shows concern for the feelings of the ladies involved in his one night stands. He's happily wallowing in his new lifestyle when, watching Ollie, he ends up doing some more serious snooping on a neighbour's airstrip. Fritz gets more than be bargains for when he witnesses a murder. To protect Ollie and his own privacy, he neglects to notify the authorities but feels compelled to investigate on his own.
oon afterwards, Fritz is introduced by his mother to their new neighbour, James Roach, a '
' who is assistant secretary of state, and has a dangerous reputation and a dark weapons brokering background. Fritz uncovers the identity of the murder victim, with international complications. And Harvard ornithologist Maureen O'Hara shows up on Fritz's doorstep - '
one of the most exotic-looking females I've ever seen in my life ... Emerald eyes staring at me like she's a bird of prey and I'm the rabbit she's about to have for breakfast
here are threats and more violence. Fritz barely dodges a bullet himself and is questioned by the police about another murder. Even an old friend becomes suspect and the author is full of surprises as both the suspense and the romance heat up. Don't assume that you've figured this one out till the very end; Freedman does a great job of keeping the reader guessing.
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