Thursday, November 17, 2011

For the Birds, by Aaron Paul Lazar


Paladin Timeless Books, ISBN 9781606191668, November 2011

This is a delightful, quirky mystery that moves quickly and keeps you guessing. Marcella Hollister is an antiques dealer whose husband, Quinn, enjoys breeding and showing birds. They're taking a few days off from the antiques business to attend a bird show, where Quinn hopes his parrot, Ruby, will win Best New Color. Marcella's mother Thelma, living with them since the death of Marcella's stepfather Raoul, is along for the trip, and in fact is paying for it from the money she's inherited from Raoul's carefully tended 401(k) plan. Thelma seems unusually jumpy, and is convinced that a certain white van is following them. Once they're at the hotel for the event, things don't calm down. Thelma and Quinn have a silly tug-of-war over Ruby's cage that ends in Ruby and Thelma falling into the pool along with a live electrical wire. They're quickly rescued, and Thelma is rushed to the hospital.

It takes a few days before they figure out that there is now psychic connection between Ruby's mind and Thelma's, and they are likely to unexpectedly spout each other's favorite words and phrases.
Over the next few days, a stranger offers to do a psychic reading of Ruby, Thelma is kidnapped out of the hospitals, and Marcella finds out from the FBI that her mother has been spending currency that was stolen in an unsolved bank robbery in the 1960s. Alarmed by the sinister events suddenly swirling around them, Marcella and Quinn decide they have to get to the bottom of the mystery themselves.

Which is, of course, when things start to really spiral out of control.

Marcella, Quinn, and Thelma are all flawed but likable characters, and digging into the mystery of Raoul's background and the source of his money is in equal measures confusing and fascinating.

Recommended.

I received a free electronic galley of this book from the publisher.