Ann Lambert – The Birds That Stay

Ann Lambert – The Birds That Stay

In a small place north of Montreal, an old lady is found dead, strangled and frozen outside. Who would ever do such a thing to a woman of more than eighty years? Not far from the scene of crime Marie cares about her mother Claire who is suffering from Alzheimer’s. It’s time to move her to a home where better care can be taken of her. When her mother sees the report of the murder in the newspaper, she refers to old Mrs Newman as Mrs Kovak and is convinced that the victim is her former neighbour. Just the talk of a demented woman or a memory that will reveal a lot about the case and the motive of the murderer?

Ann Lambert’s novel takes quite an interesting turn that I didn’t expect at all. To a murder case she adds a bit of Canadian history that is not often heard of, one of those things people prefer to forget about because it is embarrassing. What I appreciated most was how the author managed in her debut to intertwine different plot lines that at first seem to be totally independent without any connection.

It is mainly two aspects that made me ponder while reading the novel. First of all, I had never heard of the Canadian position towards European refugees after WW II and most certainly didn’t I ever connect the country with the idea of being a refuge for Nazi collaborators. Second, the novel provides an interesting study of human nature, Tomas/Ennis is seemingly lacking any kind of compassion and willing to do everything to get what he deserves in his opinion. Both of them linked inevitably lead to the question if there is something “running in the blood” – the father part of the most atrocious crimes of the 20th century and the son likewise ruthless? Apart from the plot, I liked Lambert’s style of writing a lot and I am looking forward to reading more from her.