Wow, finished with my first book of the Summer Challenge! This was an excellent book. It had a mystery element without being a murder mystery, and had a really interesting historical backdrop to it.
It looks like this was Martin Davies first book. I'm impressed! He had done his homework about the historical elements and talks about them at the back of the book. The chapters go back and forth between the modern times story of Fitz and the historical times of Joseph Banks.
Modern times story line:
Fitz is a tutor and leading expert in the field of extinct birds. He is contacted by a long lost love, Gabreilla, to help an important backer of her work, find the stuffed Mysterious Bird of Ulieta. This bird was found on one of Cook's exploration trips and when returned to England was given to the famous explorer Joseph Banks. Then it disappeared. The man that wants to find it, Karl Anderson, thinks that since Fitz has studied these extinct birds he might know something about it....but Fitz is clueless but his interest has now been raised. With the help of Katya, the girl that rents a room in his house, he sets off to find the bird. What Fitz can't understand is why the man is willing to pay for finding a bird that if it existed still would likely be in tatters and not worth much? Who and why has his house been burglarized, since he doesn't know anything special about the bird? What is the relationship between Fitz and Gabriella?
Historical story line:
The second half of the story follows the lives of Joseph Banks and a mysterious young girl who he meets in the woods near his childhood home. Joseph is set to leave on his first exhibition with Cook and finds his young girl who can draw and paint beautiful pictures of nature, which is his passion. She isn't from a respectable family, her father has always been an outcast, hence the reason we aren't given her name, and he is slowly dying. I won't give much away about this, because Davies does a good job of each chapter building on the story line from past to present. So the least said the better.
I found this book really enjoyable. I was never able to come up with an answer for the mystery, and I liked that. I also liked how one chapter built on the other. Many times I wanted to skip the modern chapter to go on to the next historical and vice versa when I had finished the other! But you would miss so much out of the story if you did that!
Anyway....happy reading! Tonight I'll start reading Tim Brookes "A Hell of a Place to Lose a Cow", which is a travel book about traveling around rural USA. I bought the book because I was really homesick at that moment standing in a bookstore in Much Wenlock, my hubby's place of birth and hoped it would be a really good, funny travel read about my home country!