By Peter J. Robinson
ISBN 978-1-83859-053-6; £9.99
Peter Robinson will be known to many BB readers, both as a former Head of Investigations at the RSPB and as a birder – and author of The Birds of the Isles of Scilly (Helm 2003). His knowledge of the wildlife crime scene is considerable, and this new novel is particularly timely, given the recent publicity concerning convicted rare-bird smuggler Jeffrey Lendrum. One can imagine Lendrum featuring in a future novel by Robinson, of nefarious deeds undertaken to secure the eggs of the world’s rarest birds of prey.
Without wishing to spoil the story, international wildlife crime investigator Phillip Royle is much in demand for his expertise. The story finds him in Florida investigating the disappearance of fellow investigator Daniel Morgan. Working with Charlie Lacey (another of Morgan’s workmates), he sets off on a trail that takes both of them around Florida then on to California, Mexico and Australia. They meet plenty of criminals along the way and manage to escape relatively unharmed from some tricky encounters.
The book starts really well, and I found myself unable to put it down for five hours – which is almost unknown for me! Rather like James Bond, Royle and Lacey seem to have a lot of luck and considerable access to resources. Along the way they also fall in love. Travelling around the outback of Australia they manage to discover why Morgan has disappeared, and a complex trail of international crime unfolds before them.
I found the middle and later stages of the book less gripping than the start, but nonetheless I was pleased that I persevered to the end. I could easily see this novel turned into a film as it contains all the essential elements of a thriller – along with an unexpected twist. The book is subtitled ‘a Phillip Royle case’ – so perhaps there may be more novels in the pipeline.