Rare Bird Alert
by Richard H. Peake
Lettra Press

"The soft strains of Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto in A Major complemented Georgina’s voice with what Bob thought a sexy background."

With a curious cast of characters, a travelogue of colorful locales, and a query into why unusual characters do what they do in picturesque places, this book is about human reactions to various non-human and decidedly inhuman things. The non-human things include birds and natural settings, while the inhuman things include rape and murder. From Australia to Galveston to a South Pacific island, from lonely people to nosy people to bad people, from sparrows to orioles to kookaburras, this book is a unique expedition into bird-watching and crime, told in a literary style that often appears casual, here and there caustic, perhaps even semi-satirical. The result is a twenty-four chapter excursion into fiction that is sometimes too strange to be believed but also too observant not to have some truth behind it.

While the narrative flow is a bit unusual, the book makes up for it in a tale as unique as they come. The storytelling leaves the impression that this singular effort was written in something akin to a literary monotone. The characters are not exceedingly easy to care about, but the promise is there, beginning with the work's intriguing title. This puts the reader in a curious mood, making one instantly wonder if this work will duplicate the tone of a whimsical movie like The Big Year, the 2011 film about bird enthusiasts who try to outdo each other, or if it will be closer to Steve Martin's own Rare Bird Alert, in which the comedian plays the banjo and provides lyrics and music lessons. Peake's novel is unlike either one. Instead, it is distinctive in its own right, a distinction that comes from its unusual and sprawling storyline.

Return to USR Home