Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Something for the Birds

Here's the deal. Amber Dean's real name was Amber Dean Getzin and she lived from 1902 until 1985. She wrote 17 total novels, but 10 of these were part of an amateur detective series starring Abbie Harris. What's left are stand-alone stories, mostly suspense or crime-fiction that uses odd plot devices to keep novels unique and innovative. Case in point, Something for the Birds (hardcover 1959, paperback 1961), which features bird watchers mixed up with a heist team. It's crazy. It's unbelievable. It's entertaining as Hell. 

First things first, if you love both Lionel White and Dan Marlowe's characters plotting to knock over a bank while also conspiring to knock off one or two of their own heist team, then you'll love half of this book. No question. From that perspective, Dean showcases Frank and his three teammates (2 male, 1 female) planning a bank heist in Rochester, NY. Mostly, they perform well and get away with the money. Interesting enough, they decide to mail the stolen loot to a general delivery address in the small town where they plan to chill until the heat is off. 

The small upstate New York town the heist crew picks is inhabited by a group of friends that spend their free time as “birders”. I had to look the term up, but it's basically Paperback Warrior nerdiness, only with birds instead of books. These jokers keep log books of flight patterns, migration, what bird is mating (giving the bird) to another bird, species, calls, etc. Like, totally spaced out on birds. 

One of the birders has a lazy daughter that ships a package of dirty laundry back home for washing. Inevitably, because this is a crime-fiction novel, the birder accidentally gets the box of stolen cash and the bank robbers receive the dirty clothes. The mail is so unreliable. However, the birders never stop to open the box they have mistakenly received because they are on the hunt for bird eggs. But, the robbers know the birders have the money and are suspicious that they will go to the police. Frank and his team, which are warring with each other over the botched plans, head into the forest to shoot the women. Thus, this book's second-half is a suspenseful womanhunt birdwatching adventure with some mild humor. 

Something for the Birds was a lot of fun to read and is on par with Deadly Encounter in terms of tight, concise plot development. Dean's novels possess quirky characters in unusual circumstances, performing “outside the box” hobbies or careers. She does create some reader abrasion by constantly changing character perspectives and locales. But, I was okay with the dizziness. In regard to the mailing fiasco, I believe the author had another novel with the premise wrapped around a New York Post Office, but the title escapes me.  

Overall, if you enjoy heist books and the ultimate fallout when the plan goes south, then Something for the Birds is a soaring recommendation. Don't let this one fly away.

Buy a copy of this book HERE

1 comment:

  1. Funny, I had just finished the episode 40 of the podcast which featured your first attempt with one of her books and, unfortunately, a negative review. Too bad you hadn't picked this one at the time.