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February 2019 Fiction: Canadian

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A Russell and Leduc Mystery 1
The Birds That Stay
By (author): Ann Lambert
9781772600919 Paperback, Trade, Adhesive bound English General Trade FICTION / Mystery & Detective / Women Sleuths Quebec Feb 19, 2019
$19.95 CAD
Active 5.5 x 8.5 x 0.68 in 344 pages Second Story Press
Quebec Writers' Federation - Concordia University First Book Prize 2019 2019, Short-listed Book Riot's List of "33 Highly Anticipated Crime Novels", January-March 2019 2019, Commended The Globe and Mail's List of "Ten crime novels to add a thrill to your spring" 2019
The sins of the past are never forgotten, or forgiven, in this Quebec Noir set in the Laurentians and Montreal.

In a small village in the Laurentians, north of Montreal, a reclusive older woman is found strangled outside her home. Roméo Leduc, Chief Inspector for Homicide, is one day away from his first vacation in years but reluctantly answers the call on the case. Marie Russell lives in the same small community. She did not know her elderly neighbour, and she does not expect to become embroiled in solving her murder. But when a startling new clue emerges, Marie becomes an inadvertent detective. As Marie and Roméo combine wits to find the killer, they are forced to face demons from their own pasts as they confront a case where no one and nothing is really as it seems.

Ann Lambert has been writing and directing for the stage for thirty-five years. Several of her plays, including The Wall, Parallel Lines, Very Heaven, The Mary Project and Two Short Women have been performed in theatres in Canada, the United States, Europe and Australia. She has been a teacher of English literature at Dawson College for almost twenty-eight years in Montreal, Quebec, where she makes her home.

Key Selling Points:
  • The murder of an older woman proves that the sins from the past are never forgotten.
  • Major themes/topics: murder mystery, female manipulation and abuse, repressed collective memory.
  • Written as a murder mystery in the vein of Louise Penny, it’s set in specific regions of Quebec, Canada. It also centres on an instance that happens in the past, which has great bearing on the present circumstances.
  • Ann is a teacher of English literature at Dawson College in Montreal. She has been writing and directing for the stage for 35 years. This is her first novel.

For more information contact

Riveting and elegantly written, with secret histories and crimes past and present, this marvelous novel surprises at every turn. - Ayelet Waldman, author of Love and Treasure, Red Hook Road, and the Mommy Track mystery series.

The Birds That Stay feels on the one hand like one of those intimate, emotionally meandering phone conversations with a close friend that the protagonist Marie is nostalgic for and on the other hand like a suspenseful piece of deliciously escapist fiction. It strikes a familiar chord in its depiction of uniquely Québécois subcultures but also in its frank portrayal of universal themes: family dynamics, aging parents, midlife erasure, trauma and regret. I devoured the book in 72 hours and am impatiently awaiting the next instalment. - Michaela Di Cesare, award-winning playwright of Successions and 8 Ways My Mother Was Conceived

Layers of a mysterious past must be unraveled to solve a murder in the present in this intimate journey through time. Ann Lambert's novel is an honest rendering of Quebec life and a faithful tale of one woman's experiences when confronted by danger, by life's daily complications and psychic mutations. - John Farrow, author of The Storm Murders Trilogy

The Birds That Stay is not only a masterful mystery novel debut, but also a thoroughly pleasurable adult read. Ann Lambert creates an utterly convincing crime setting in a seemingly calm Laurentian town outside Montreal, where suppressed secrets from the past violently ricochet into the present. I can't wait to read Lambert's next one. - Megan Williams, author and CBC Correspondent

The Birds That Stay is populated with complex characters, not one of whom has been untouched by some form of trauma, be it divorce, addiction, abuse, abandonment, or betrayal. The skillful way in which these characters are rendered is part of what makes the book so engaging. - Montreal Review of Books

"...a fascinating and gripping tale of suspense, and there’s even a hint of romance here." - New York Journal of Books

With many references to Quebec that will be familiar to those who know the province, the book may also appeal to fans of Louise Penny's Chief Inspector Gamache series. - Press-Republican

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

Lambert’s craft is honed by years of playwriting, teaching literature, and observing the human condition. She depicts believable characters whose worlds collide when history, in its insidious way, encroaches on the present, and affects future generations. - The Senior Times

The setting is the Laurentians, north of Montreal. That leads one to inevitably think of Louise Penny’s Three Pines, but let the comparison stop there. Yes, both are rural and very Quebec, but Lambert is telling a very different story in a very different way. - Margaret Cannon, The Globe and Mail

Ten Thrillers That Will Keep You on the Edge of Your Seat Until Summertime (List) - The Globe and Mail

Quebec Writers' Federation - Concordia First Book Prize 2019
Juror comments (full text)

Lambert’s prose captures the spirit(s) of Quebec, the push and pull of modernity, particularly in the communities far from the cities, and the beauty that is sometimes forgotten in discussions of provincial politics... Amidst a cast of sympathetic characters who span social classes and carry with them burdens of diverse, often painful personal histories, Lambert interweaves the stories of two winning protagonists who meet via the mystery to be solved...

Lambert’s confidence in her characters, her intelligent plot, and digressions that both instruct and delight make The Birds that Stay an engaging and un-put-down-able read.

- QWF Jurors

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