The Birds That Stay

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In a little village north of Montreal deep in the ancient Laurentian mountains, a reclusive old woman is found strangled and frozen outside her home. Romeo Leduc, the enigmatic chief inspector for homicide, is one day away from his first vacation in years and reluctantly answers the call on the case. Romeo suspects a local biker gang is involved in what appears to be a robbery gone awry--or was the old woman a victim of a violent hate crime?

Enter Marie Russell, a 58-year old nature writer, divorced mother of two struggling 20-somethings, faced with selling the family home and placing her mother, Claire, in a nursing home. Marie becomes the inadvertent detective when her mother, who suffers from dementia, offers a startling clue that sets Marie on her quest to solve the murder of the old woman through its link to a terrible incident that happened on her suburban Montreal street in the 1970's.

Together, Marie and Romeo discover that this murder is connected to another crime that takes the reader back to to the darkest days at the very end of World War Two. As Marie and Romeo are on the hunt to find the killer, they are forced to face the demons from their own pasts; they learn that history will tragically repeat itself when people fail to acknowledge and tell the truth.

Along the way, they meet an eclectic cast of characters from Montreal and the Laurentian mountains “up north” who paint an authentic, incisive, and sometimes very funny portrait of the Quebec of yesterday and today.

Second Story Press

audiobook now available!

Narrated by Ann Lambert

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The birds that stay

Why is it exciting? Why is it different?

The Birds That Stay has a compelling point of view and unique voice because of its strong, vivid sense of place; it is set in the suburban West island of Montreal and the the hauntingly beautiful Laurentian mountains, two iconic areas of Quebec which are totally different—the former for being historically and resolutely English and the latter for being the heartland of French Quebec closest to Montreal. This long standing historical conflict and tension feeds the subtext of the story throughout. It is through this specific sense of place that the universal themes of family dysfunction, trauma and regret are explored most intimately and humorously.

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"Layers of a mysterious past must be unraveled to solve a murder in the present in this intimate journey through time."

— John Farrow, author of The Storm Murders

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“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 Canadian Jewish News

The Birds That Stay is a hybrid of memoir and murder mystery, in the Scandinavian noir tradition. Each character is haunted by his or her past, and carries a dark secret each will have to reckon with.

It is also a penetrating examination of the social problems we cover up and mask: the trauma of sexual abuse, family dysfunction, the fallout from divorce, midlife erasure.

In terms of the bigger, global issues it examines that resonate today, the story examines the idea that history will repeat itself when people fail to tell the truth and acknowledge what really happened.

Who is The Birds That Stay for?

Many women, and especially women over 50 would like this series because it explores situations and themes that resonate for them—being responsible for aging parents and young adult children, wanting to pursue one’s own dreams and being caught between duty and desire. The struggle of aging and the the yearning to fall in love again in an alienating world of on-line dating, dick-pics and worship of youthful beauty. It involves an older Boomer generation woman and younger man, and the woman is very much the inadvertent detective. Marie struggles to not feel invisible as so many women her age do; her managing to help solve a brutal murder while she is dealing with the agony of placing her mother in a nursing home reveals her to be a woman of much agency and relevance.

Men would enjoy the series as well for the sympathetic portrayal of Romeo, who is haunted by his own abusive childhood, caught between an ex-wife and his teenage daughter, is a failure in romance, and who has invested more in his career than perhaps he should have.

For all readers who are interested in the toxic effects of the patriarchy on generations of men and women and how they persist now.

For all readers who are interested in stories with international intrigue-- in this case how the darkest experiences in human history resurface on a nice suburban street in Canada.

The Birds that Stay is the perfect murder mystery for fans who appreciate greater complexity and depth of story-telling, who appreciate stories when history collides with characters in their daily, ordinary lives, and take them on a tumultuous, unpredictable and satisfying journey.

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The Birds That Stay
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