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A Siege of Bitterns

(Birder Murder Mystery #1)

3.63  ·  Rating details ·  974 ratings  ·  186 reviews
Newly appointed police inspector Domenic Jejeune doesn’t mind ruffling a few feathers to flush out suspects in the brutal murder of a renowned ecological activist.

2015 Arthur Ellis Award — Winner, Best First Novel • Globe and Mail 100: Best Books of 2014 • 2015 Kobo Emerging Writer Prize — Shortlisted, Best Mystery

Inspector Domenic Jejeune’s success has made him a poster
Paperback, 352 pages
Published April 5th 2014 by Dundurn (first published January 1st 2014)
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Average rating 3.63  · 
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Nov 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
A charming first book from a man who is a dedicated birder himself. A Brit living in Canada, his main character is a Canadian living in the U.K. And not just anywhere in the U.K., in Norfolk, an area well known for its birding opportunities. He writes convincingly about the expat experience.

My very first international birding trip in 1999 led this Canadian birder to that very area—I have wonderful memories of birding at Cley & Titchwell and learning about British birds from our knowledgeable
Cindy Burnett
May 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am a huge fan of Elly Griffiths’ series that takes place near Saltmarsh in Norfolk and was excited to learn about a second series set in the same area. While Ruth Galloway (Griffiths’ protagonist) is an archaeologist, DCI Domenic Jejeune is a Canadian police detective who would rather spend his days birdwatching. Soon after his arrival in Norfolk, Jejeune is assigned to solve the murder of a prominent ecological activist. Jejeune is a likeable and intelligent protagonist, and the resolution of ...more
Toni Osborne
Dec 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Book #1, in Birder Murder Mystery

“A Siege of Bitterns” is a dazzling birder murder mystery set in the small Norfolk town of Saltmarsh at the heart of Britain’s birding country. Whether you are a birder or not this combination of bird-watching and murder is a fun and engaging light read.

This book is a pretty quick read with little blood and no graphic scenes. We tag along with the main character, Detective Chief Inspector Dominic Jejeune, a Canadian, considered an outsider by his colleague of
May 29, 2019 rated it liked it
3.5 Stars. I’ve been mulling over A Siege of Bitterns (great title), by Steve Burrows, for a few days now. The premise of setting a mystery in a Norfolk marshland with its plethora of birders was good. As was the mix of motives from wind farms to possible toxic spills and animosity between business minded folks and champions of nature. I also enjoyed a number of the characters. But the moody, albeit talented, bird watching enthusiast, Inspector Domenic Jejeune just didn’t impress me much. His ...more
Expectations can make or break a read. Sometimes when there is a lot of ‘hype’ about a book you set your expectations too high and then you find yourself a tad disappointed in it. Sometimes when you have NO expectations at all about a title, you find you LOVE it! Such was my experience reading “A siege of bitterns“, the January read for my bookclub, Whodunit.

“A siege of bitterns” is a British police procedural mystery set in the marshlands of Norfolk, England. The protagonist, Domenic Jejeune,
Scott Silver
Jun 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Enjoyed the references to birds and the idiosyncrasies of birders which I can relate to. Author did a good job of describing the scenery and giving enough misleading ideas to keep you guessing.
Jun 12, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery, canadian
Interesting story for the most part but I did skip a few parts that I felt dragged on too long. I expect series will improve though.
Mar 05, 2016 rated it liked it
Published by:Oneworld Publications (3rd March 2016)


Source:Real Readers



Newly appointed police inspector Domenic Jejeune doesn’t mind ruffling a few feathers. Indeed his success has elevated him into a poster boy for the police. The problem is Jejeune doesn’t really want to be a detective at all; he much prefers watching birds.

Recently reassigned to the small Norfolk town of Saltmarsh, located in the heart of Britain’s premier birding country, Jejeune’s two
Elaine Bougie
May 09, 2015 rated it it was ok
I greatly enjoyed the setting of the marsh and the birding aspects of this mystery. The same could not be said of the characters and the author's methods of exposition of the story. Inspector Jejeune is as much a mystery to me as he was before reading the book. If I am supposed to sympathize with his apparent intuition-only style of policing I would need to have more of the character's internal life shared with me.

The character of his DCS seems to be almost sociopathic, and at odds with the
Longweekend enjoyment with this debut Canadian authored mystery in a UK setting. Writing a well captured personality, Burrows presents a likeable mc with a thoughtful introspective approach. Domenic JeJeune's style complicates the police superintendent's political and public expectations for a quick solution to the horror of a discovered murder. This debut sets the personal and relational work stage for the series.
Text Addict
Jan 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
Probably too low-key for many people's taste. The choice of starting the series *after* the great triumph that led to the main character's fame is surprising, but I think it makes sense.
May 07, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
I tried. I tried really hard, and as much as I love birds, I couldn't get into this mystery. Nothing about this sucked me in and made me want to read more. I struggled in vain to be interested, to care about this lame detective and his theories, but I just couldn't. I made it 75% of the way through before giving up the ghost.
Nov 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Elly Griffiths, Peter May (Lewis series), Ann Cleeves (Shetland series)
DCI Domenic Jejeune's last case was solved with much fanfare, making him a media darling. Now, he's been transferred to Saltmarsh, a small town in Norfolk & unfortunately the acclaim has followed him. Dom has always felt ambivalent about his job & is a reluctant hero. At least here, he can indulge his passion for bird watching.
His boss, DCS Shepherd, makes it clear she expects the positive PR to continue & it's not long before he's put to the test. Cameron Brae, a well known
Feb 21, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Time taken to read - 4 days (on and off)

Pages - 352

Publisher - Oneworld Publishers

Blurb from Goodreads

Newly appointed police inspector Domenic Jejeune doesn’t mind ruffling a few feathers to flush out suspects in the brutal murder of a renowned ecological activist.

Inspector Domenic Jejeune’s success has made him a poster boy for the U.K. police service. The problem is Jejeune doesn’t really want to be a detective at all; he much prefers watching birds.

Recently reassigned to the small Norfolk
Jan 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
A Siege of Bitterns is the first book in the Birders (Domenic Jejeune) mystery series by Steve Burrows. Jejeune is a Canadian who has moved to England and had success as a Police Inspector in London. His fame in solving a particular case (not much info provided about that) gets him a transfer to the Norfolk town of Saltmarsh. Jejeune is a 'birder' and the Salt marshes are a treasure trove of birds. It turns out that there is a competition going on where the birders are trying to identify 400 ...more
Feb 04, 2016 rated it liked it
This book should be right up my street, it's a murder mystery, which I love, set in Norfolk, where I live, with a plot that revolves around birdwatching - I'm an amateur birdwatcher. I did enjoy it very much, I loved the descriptions of the landscape round here and liked the fact that it mentioned quite a few local RSPB reserves. The mystery was quite engaging, although the ending was a bit unlikely, but that's okay for murder mysteries in my book.

However, there were a few things which I didn't
Nigel Richards
Jan 22, 2019 rated it did not like it
About as far removed from police work as it is possible to be.
Jemima Pett
The author is a keen birder. He lists a great many authorities he used for his research, so any quibbles I had during the technical side of the murders in this book are probably because I don’t know as much as I think I do. There’s still one bit of science I want to double-check, and it is key to the plot, so I should. I expect he’s right. Which is a warning that there’s a fair amount of technical detail of interest to ecologists, ornithologists and environmentalists in this book. Fortunately, I ...more
Cheryl Harrington
Apr 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kindle
"A Birder Murder Mystery" ... How could I resist? While I'm not (yet) a birder, I am most definitely a bird lover. I'm also a passionate mystery reader. One of my favourite settings is coastal England. Throw in a reluctant detective who also happens to be an ex-pat Canadian and ... well, what could be better?

I nabbed this wonderful debut novel for my Kindle and knew within pages that author Steve Burrows would be joining my short list of must-read authors. Days later, I heard of a local book
Laurel Bradshaw
I'm probably over-rating this, but I think it's a mystery series with some real potential. The author (and the detective inspector) both have an encyclopedic knowledge of birds that goes beyond your casual backyard bird watcher like me, but it's what attracted me to read this book. There were wonderful descriptions of the marsh and habitat. I would have liked a little more back-story on what makes our inspector so brooding. Characterization, in general, was a little lacking, but in a series, ...more
Aug 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 18, 2017 rated it liked it
I wanted to love this, I thought the writing was smart, and the plot development was quite good, but the story fizzled a little about half way through, and I lost interest. Sadly, I couldn't connect with the mail character at all. I carried on, and really enjoyed the ending, and the clever ecological and birding tie-ins, but I think many would give up before it got good again. I almost did.

I will read the second in the series.
Oct 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
I picked this book up as part of a promotion on Kobo and totally enjoyed it. It was cool to have the bird watching community as an integral part of the story. The main detective is very young and aloof, and a bit intriguing even if he lacks direction sometimes which can be frustrating. Definitely plan to read others in the series.
Margaret Bryant
May 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Intriguing setting of English marshes, combined with sexy French-Canadian sleuth and birders, makes for a fun read!
Judith Davis
Feb 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
If you are a border, you will love this book.
Feb 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
I enjoy mysteries primarily when they provide:
1) Captivating locale: Mystery as a vehicle for locale. I read mystery to immerse myself in varied, interesting locales, preferably the unfamiliar or unattainable. I devoured Agatha Christie's novels as a young adult to absorb their British-ness. I've recently engaged with Donna Leon's novels to soak in the atmosphere of her Venice.
2) Intriguing crime. Mystery succeeds when the crime underpinning the murder captures my interest. I'm intrigued when
Andy Potter
Feb 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
A Siege of Bitterns is the first novel in the “Birder Murder” series. The book won the 2015 Arthur Ellis Award for Best First Novel (for non-Canucks, the Arthur Ellis is the Canadian Nobel Prize of crime writing). A Siege of Bitterns is worthy of the prize.

The novel’s protagonist, DI Domenic Jejeune, is a Canadian transplanted to the UK. The mystery unfolds in the small Norfolk town of Saltmarsh, premier birding country. One might say Dejeune is a reluctant detective. He likes bird watching as
Jan 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
How could I pass on a book that's sub-titled a Birder Murder Mystery... As, 1) I love birds, and 2) the Audubon society recommended it, and 3) you can't beat a good mystery.
This is D.I. Domenic Jejeune's first appearance for us. He's just been reassigned from London, to the small Norfolk town of Saltmarsh... His introduction is brief, as he is briskly sent off to investigate Saltmarsh's newest crime... a murder! He and D.S. Danny Maik have to make the best of the situation as they try to form a
Joseph Ribera
Nov 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
I recently took up bird watching. While searching the library catalog for "Birding" I came across this book. I really enjoyed it.

The protagonist, Domenic Jejeune, is a reluctant police hero but an enthusiastic birdwatcher. A Canadian, he works as a Detective Chief Inspector in Norfolk, England. There are references to the event that caused him to be a "hero" but it is not totally explored. His Canadian roots give rise to various comments and criticisms of his behavior and approach to his job.

Sep 05, 2017 rated it liked it
Canadian bird watcher and detective Dominic Jejeune arrives in the Norfolk town of Saltmarsh as a bit of a celebrity due to a recently cracked case yet he's also escaping something in his past. His superintendent wants similar success in solving the grisly murder of a local ecological activist. But Jejeune's bird-based theories frustrate his colleagues and his inability to understand the deep and conflicting relationships among the well-drawn locals hinder his abilities to the point where he ...more
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Steve Burrows has pursued his birdwatching hobby on five continents, while researching articles on a wide range of environmental issues. He has a degree in English from York University and is a past editor of the Hong Kong Bird Watching Society Magazine. After travelling the world together, Steve and his family now live in Oshawa, Ontario.

Other books in the series

Birder Murder Mystery (6 books)
  • A Pitying of Doves (Birder Murder Mystery #2)
  • A Cast of Falcons (Birder Murder Mystery #3)
  • A Shimmer of Hummingbirds (Birder Murder Mystery, #4)
  • A Tiding of Magpies (Birder Murder Mystery, #5)
  • A Dance of Cranes (Birder Murder Mystery #6)
“He spent the morning at the beach. He had no idea which one, just some open stretch of coastline reaching out to the sea. An unbroken mantle of soft grey clouds was sitting low over the water. Only on the horizon was there a glimmer of light, a faint blue band of promise. The beach was deserted, not another soul on the vast, wide expanse of sand that stretched out in front of him. Having come from the city, it never ceased to amaze Jejeune that you could be that alone in the world. He walked along the beach, feeling the satisfying softness as the sand gave way beneath his slow deliberate strides. He ventured as close to the tide line as he dared, the white noise of the waves breaking on the shingles. A set of paw prints ran along the sand, with an unbroken line in between. A small dog, dragging a stick in its mouth. Always the detective, even if, these days, he wasn’t a very good one.
Jejeune’s path became blocked by a narrow tidal creek carrying its silty cargo out to the sea. On each side of it were shallow lagoons and rock pools. When the tide washed in they would teem with new life, but at the moment they looked barren and empty. Jejeune looked inland, back to where the dark smudge of Corsican pines marked the edge of the coast road. He traced the creek’s sinuous course back to where it emerged from a tidal salt flat, and watched the water for a long time as it eddied and churned, meeting the incoming tide in an erotic swirl of water, the fresh intermingling with the salty in a turbulent, roiling dance, until it was no longer possible to tell one from the other.
He looked out at the sea, at the motion, the color, the light. A Black-headed Gull swooped in and settled on a piece of driftwood a few feet away. Picture complete, thought Jejeune. For him, a landscape by itself, no matter how beautiful, seemed an empty thing. It needed a flicker of life, a tiny quiver of existence, to validate it, to confirm that other living things found a home here, too.
Side by side, they looked out over the sea, the man and the bird, two beating hearts in this otherwise empty landscape, with no connection beyond their desire to be here, at this time. Was it the birds that attracted him to places like this, he wondered, or the solitude, the absence of demands, of expectations? But if Jejeune was unsure of his own motives, he knew this bird would have a purpose in being here. Nature always had her reasons.
He chanced a sidelong glance at the bird, now settled to his presence. It had already completed its summer molt, crisp clean feathers having replaced the ones abraded by the harsh demands of eking out a living on this wild, windswept coastline. The gull stayed for a long moment, allowing Jejeune to rest his eyes softly, unthreateningly, upon it. And then, as if deciding it had allowed him enough time to appreciate its beauty, the bird spread its wings and effortlessly lifted off, wheeling on the invisible air currents, drifting away over the sea toward the horizon.

p. 282-3”
“A charm of Goldfinches swooped in and settled on a stand of thistles, pecking at the down. It was a scene Jejeune had seen a thousand times on calendar pages, one of the most picturesque in nature. It still gave him a frisson of delight and he paused for a moment before speaking. p. 147” 1 likes
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