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A Bird in the Hand

(George & Molly Palmer-Jones #1)

3.31  ·  Rating details ·  1,073 ratings  ·  81 reviews
Young Tom French was found dead, lying in a marsh on the Norfolk coast, with his head bashed in and his binoculars still around his neck. One of the best birders in England, Tom had put the village of Rushy on the birdwatching map. Everyone liked him. Or did they? George Palmer-Jones, an elderly birdwatcher who decided quietly to look into the brutal crime, discovered mixe ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published February 1st 2019 by Pan Macmillan (first published 1986)
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3.31  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,073 ratings  ·  81 reviews

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Apr 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: xx2017-completed
This was a very good read - the first in a series of eight “birder” books all written between 1986 and 1996. I knew next to nothing about birding before but this book brought me up to speed quickly – the vocabulary, the lifestyle, and the passions – which of course laid a solid foundation for a good mystery. The only flaw is that I felt a bit “shut out” at some point – that if I had more information I could also have figured out “who dunnit”. Considering this was a first-time effort that small f ...more
I love Ann Cleeves' Shetland series, but so far am not finding any of her other series very good at all. Couldn't get through this one -- stopped about halfway because it wasn't interesting or good reading.
Oct 25, 2018 rated it it was ok
I thought this would be the perfect book for me and I'd be the ideal reader for it:

- love the crime genre
- love the Vera and Shetland tv shows
- been meaning to read an Ann Cleeves novel for ages (see above)
- a bit of a bird nerd (though not a twitcher)

How wrong I was. I felt the writing was flat and the actual story barely credible. I found George unlikeable and the idea that he would just accept a private detective job out of the blue, let alone one asking him to find a murderer, totally unbeli
An interesting murder mystery with a refreshing setting, deeply rooted in the world of birdwatchers and twitchers galore. The characters slowly grew on me as I read and the plot, though winding and a little long-winded at times, felt compelling and fresh. Not predictable, but with enough clues to the ending scattered throughout.

The ending felt a little inconclusive, I must say. A few more pages to tie up loose ends and leave the reader with a greater sense of satisfaction could not have gone am
Mar 29, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The author’s first published book. Although readable not a patch on her later novels. I was lucky enough to meet Ann Cleeves at an author event and she told me it was “rubbish”. I love such brutal honesty but think rubbish is a bit strong.
An entirely different mystery from Ann Cleeves. I liked the story and think the characters will be interesting to see over the series.
BOTTOM LINE: When a respected but not well-liked birdwatcher is found with his head bashed in, there’s no dearth of suspects in the little marsh villiage of Rushy - it’s a small world, pretty much, with everybody knowing a bit about everybody else, and George and his wife Molly quietly go around asking questions and trying to piece together the victim’s last day.

The plotting is wonderfully tight and the characters grow slowly on you, so that by the end you simply don’t want the killer to be any
Artie LeBlanc
I read this book because Goodreads recommended the author when I finished the Lewes trilogy. She is award winning and recognised, so I thought I'd give her ago, by reading her first book.

I found it enjoyable but not scintillating. There is a complex web of characters, and it took a while to get them sorted in my head. The plot device of using a twitcher community was clever, because it enables the author to bring together sets of people almost randomly, and to move them towards or away from the
Jan 14, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The storyline was a little disjointed for me. I had a hard time following it and had to keeping turning back pages to figure out what was going on. The last few chapters, I was "in the know" and appreciated Ann's hidden messages about who might be the murderer. It took me too long to read it which may have accounted for my confusion since I love her Vera series.
rebecca O. webber
This was the first book in Ann Cleeves first series. It features amateur detectives George and Molly Palmer-Jones. He is retired from the Home Office. It evident that this was a first attempt at mystery writing. I am pleased that the Vera Stanhope series is much better written and engrossing.

I may read a book from her Inspector Ramsey series which follows the Palmer-Jones books.
Aug 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Loved it. First book from Ann Cleeves, author of Vera and the Shetland series. Story set on the Scilly Isles concerning a group of birdwatchers and the death of a popular birdwatcher among the group. Murder investigated by an older couple. Enjoyed this book and would look for others in the series.
Penelope Myers
I enjoyed this, would give it 3.5 stars if I knew how! Interesting book on the English twitchers and ringers, which is what we would call banding. Fun looking up the bird rarities that are mentioned throughout the book.
Sue Harris
Oct 21, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gave-up
Having enjoyed Vera & Shetland on TV I thought I would try this, the first of a series involving George & Molly Palmer-Jones.
George is an elderly birdwatcher and Amateur Sleuth, unfortunately, there was too much bird watching for me so I gave it up halfway through.
Jun 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting plot twist

The protagonist is a bit pedantic and the characters are a little flat. The the plot is good and well constructed. The information about twitching is very interesting.
Amy Barnett
Jun 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Not disappointing. I enjoyed this story.

I have to write twenty more words. Silly! What's wrong with being succinct? Seven more words...almost there...three more words.. Got it!
Nov 20, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Murder in the strange world of extreme birdwatching. Not as good as her later novels, but still worth reading.
Suzy Dominey
Jul 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As I read the book - a murder mystery I changed my opinion of whom the murderer was. And got it wrong . Really enjoyed it. Looking forward to reading the next one in the series .
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had never read any Ann Cleeves books and I was pleased when I realised this was her first book. The storyline is unusual, although her interest in bird watching has clearly carried over into the Vera stories. I enjoyed the book, although at times it was a bit slow and disjointed. I liked Molly Palmer-Jones, but found George a bit hard to stomach at times; he's a bit too pompous for my liking. I agree with a previous reviewer who said that it would have been nice to have been in on the clues so ...more
Barbara Lemon
Interesting Mystery, Badly Written

I have read some of Ann Cleeves later mysteries and she impressed me as a skilled, insightful writer. This bird 🐦 mystery is one of her early novels and lacks much of the skillful techniques which characterize her later novels. The prose is stilted and boring. I did enjoy the information about the birds and the enthusiasm of the twitchers. The mystery itself seemed contrived. I guess 3 stars is generous, but, I really did enjoy the parts concerning the birds. No
Apr 01, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the wonderful things about reading is the way a really clever author can allow you to enter a world you’d never otherwise visit. Retired detective George Palmer-Jones takes on the investigation of a murdered “twitcher,” or British birdwatcher, drawing on his considerable interest in the pursuit of ticking rare birds off a list. What would drive a seemingly harmless hobbyist to kill? It’s about what you’d expect, but still fun to meet the many varied species of twitchers, ringers, and the ...more
Jun 19, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Love the Vera and Shetland books. Love the Vera TV series- Shetland not so much as wrong casting and too much altering of the original storyline plus subsequent ones have been too long and drawn out. I was very pleased to discover a new series written by Anne which I thought I would really enjoy. Not for me this book. I think the bimaculated lark did it in the end but I had lost interest long before.
Too slow going for me and not enough to keep me interested-sorry
Dec 25, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
I really enjoyed the Vera Stanhope series so decided to give another Ann Cleeves series a try. I rather liked the setup of of the older couple with quite different personalities working together to solve a mystery. A little too many of the twists and turns on this book depended on characters with mental illnesses, but I still plan to read another Palmer-Jones mystery.
Minerva King
I began this series from Ann Cleeves, but was a little disappointed. I love the Shetland series, but this one, at least this first one, is not as exciting and the characters are not as interesting. I will try another in the series, though to see if I like it.
Mrs. Moira McGeough
Having really enjoyed Ann Cleeves' Shetland series and the Vera books I thought this book would suit me. Wrong! I found the plot flimsy and barely credible while the writing was pedestrian. I won't be reading any more of this series.
Apr 27, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
Shetland remains her best mystery series but these are gentle cozy ones that are decent.
Dec 29, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good plot but not as polished as later work
May 10, 2019 rated it liked it
Not as captivating as the Vera or Shetland series. It just sort of plodded along. It was a solid puzzle but not fabulous.
Jun 01, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A twitcher mystery just in time for a birding festival.
Jun 04, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
First book written by Cleeves. Some of the concepts appear in later books. Lots on bird-watching.
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Kindle English My...: Ann Cleeves - George & Molly Palmer-Jones series 1 10 Jun 10, 2016 09:54AM  

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Ann is the author of the books behind ITV's VERA, now in it's third series, and the BBC's SHETLAND, which will be aired in December 2012. Ann's DI Vera Stanhope series of books is set in Northumberland and features the well loved detective along with her partner Joe Ashworth. Ann's Shetland series bring us DI Jimmy Perez, investigating in the mysterious, dark, and beautiful Shetland Islands...


Other books in the series

George & Molly Palmer-Jones (8 books)
  • Come Death And High Water (George & Molly Palmer-Jones, #2)
  • Murder In Paradise (George & Molly Palmer-Jones, #3)
  • A Prey To Murder (George & Molly Palmer-Jones, #4)
  • Sea Fever (George & Molly Palmer-Jones, #5)
  • Another Man's Poison (George & Molly Palmer-Jones, #6)
  • The Mill On The Shore (George & Molly Palmer-Jones, #7)
  • High Island Blues (George & Molly Palmer-Jones, #8)