Cover image for Birdman
Title:
Birdman
Author:
Hayder, Mo.
Personal Author:
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Doubleday, 1999.
Physical Description:
327 pages ; 25 cm
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780385496940
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

Your worst nightmare is his dream come true....

A relentless debut novel filled with cutting-edge forensic and investigative detail, Birdman marks the arrival of a uniquely talented writer.

Detective Jack Caffery--young, driven, and seemingly unshockable--catches a career-making or career-breaking homicide in his first case as lead investigator with London's crack murder squad.  A young woman's body has been discovered, dumped on wasteland near the Millennium Dome site in Greenwich, England. It's the most brutal degradation of the human form that the squad has ever uncovered. Caffery's well-deserved reputation is that of the most stoic of detectives, but his initial inspection of the corpse will forever sear his psyche.

One by one, four more corpses are discovered only steps away from the first. Five bodies, all young women, all ritualistically murdered with cunning precision. And when a postmortem examination reveals a singular, macabre signature linking the victims, Caffery realizes that he's facing the most dangerous offender known to the force: a sexual serial killer.

In the murky recesses of his own mind, Caffery harbors the haunting legacy of a loved one's slaying.  What baffles him is that not a single missing person's report has been filed for any of the five young women. How has the Birdman chosen these seemingly perfect victims?

Now, as he employs every weapon forensic science can offer, Caffery knows that time is running out before the killer strikes again, and that he must put away his tortured past in order to safeguard the Birdman's next prey.

With refined craft and beguiling imagination, Mo Hayder is certain to skip the hearts of the most demanding readers of crime fiction.


Author Notes

Mo Hayder was born in Essex, England. After leaving school at fifteen, she worked as a barmaid, security guard, filmmaker, hostess in a Tokyo club, educational administrator, and teacher of English as a foreign language in Vietnam.  She now makes her home in London. Birdman is her first novel.


Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Eschewing histrionics, narrator Damien Goodwin uses an understated, soft voice to effectively convey the horrors of this latest serial killer yarn from Hayder. London homicide detective Jack Caffery has been summoned to the iconic Millennium Dome in Greenwich to investigate a particularly gruesome crime. A young woman was raped and then killed via an injection of heroin into her brain-but the kicker is the killer's postmortem addition of a live bird, sewn inside the victim's torso in place of her heart. And that savagery is just the beginning, as the body count of the murderer dubbed the Birdman rises. While the volume of extreme violence in this audio edition could overwhelm some listeners, Goodwin's matter-of-fact delivery-even when narrating insect activity on a cadaver-helps obviate the gore and slaughter. The voices Goodwin lends the different investigating officers could have been more distinctive, but given his strong representation of Caffery, fans of the series will likely look the other way. A Grove paperback. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Library Journal Review

Hayder's publisher is comparing the first-time British author to John Sandford, which is something of a stretch. Her hero, Detective Inspector Jack Caffery, is as sympathetic as Sandford's Lucas Davenport, and at times the level of suspense is comparable, but her character and plot development fall short. Other than Caffery, few of the characters are fully realized, and the explanation for the serial killings that occur is unbelievable. The newest member of the Area Major Investigation Pool, Caffery is called to examine the deaths of five women, each found with a bird in her chest cavity. When other investigators take the case in a wrong direction, Caffery risks his new position to find the truth. His search is at times gruesome but always compelling. As a first book in a potential series, Birdman is recommended for larger public libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 8/99.]ÄJane Jorgenson, Madison P.L., WI (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

NORTH GREENWICH. Late May. Three hours before sunup and the river was deserted. Dark barges strained upstream on their moorings and a spring tide gently nosed small sloops free of the sludge they slept in. A mist lifted from the water, rolling inland, past unlit chandlers, over the deserted Millennium Dome and on across lonely wastelands, strange, lunar landscapes--until it settled, a quarter of a mile inland amongst the ghostly machinery of a half-derelict construction yard. A sudden sweep of headlights--a police vehicle swung into the service route, blue lights flashing silently. It was joined moments later by a second and a third. Over the next twenty minutes more police converged on the yard--eight marked area cars, two plain Ford Sierras and the white transit van of the forensic camera team. A roadblock was placed at the head of the service route and local uniform were detailed to seal off riverside access. The first attending CID officer got onto Croydon exchange, asking for pager numbers for the Area Major Investigation Pool and, five miles away, Detective Inspector Jack Caffery, AMIP team B, was woken in his bed. He lay blinking in the dark, collecting his thoughts, fighting the impulse to tilt back into sleep. Then, taking a deep breath, he made the effort--rolled out of bed and went into the bathroom, splashing water onto his face--no more Glenmorangies in standby week, Jack, swear it now, swear it--and dressed--not too hurried, better to arrive fully awake and composed--now the tie, something understated--CID don't like us looking flashier than them. The pager, and coffee, lots of instant coffee--with sugar but not milk, no milk--and above all, don't eat, you just never know what you're going to have to look at--drank two cups, found car keys in the pocket of his jeans and, bolted awake now on caffeine, a roll-up between his teeth, drove through the deserted streets of Greenwich to the crime scene, where his superior, Detective Superintendent Steve Maddox, a small, prematurely gray man, immaculate as always in a stone-brown suit, waited for him outside the construction yard--pacing under a solitary streetlight, spinning car keys and chewing his lip. He saw Jack's car pull up, crossed to him, put an elbow on the roof, leaned through the open window and said: "I hope you haven't just eaten." Caffery dragged on the handbrake. He pulled cigarettes and tobacco from the dashboard. "Great. Just what I was hoping to hear." "This one's well past its sell-by." He stepped back as Jack climbed out of the car. "Female, partly buried. Bang in the middle of the wasteland." "Been in, have you?" "No, no. Divisional CID briefed me. And, um--" He glanced over his shoulder to where the local CID officers stood in a huddle. When he turned back his voice was low. "There's been an autopsy on her. The old Y zipper." Jack paused, his hand on the car door. "An autopsy?" "Yup." "Then it's probably gone walkabout from a path lab." "I know--" "A med student prank--" "I know, I know." Maddox held hands up, stalling him. "It's not really our territory, but look--" He checked over his shoulder again and leaned in closer. "Look, they're pretty good with us usually, Greenwich CID. Let's humor them. It won't kill us to have a quick look. Okay?" "Okay." "Good. Now." He straightened up. "Now you. How about you? Reckon you're ready?" "Shit, no." Caffery slammed the door, pulled his warrant card from his pocket and shrugged. "Of course I'm not ready. When would I ever be?" They headed for the entrance, moving along the perimeter fence. The only light was the weak sodium yellow of the scattered streetlamps, the occasional white flash of the forensic camera crew floods sweeping across the wasteland. A mile beyond, dominating the northern skyline, the luminous Millennium Dome, its red aircraft lights blinking against the stars. "She's been stuck in a bin-liner or something," Maddox said. "But it's so dark out there, the first attending couldn't be sure--his first suspicious circumstances and it's put the wind up him." He jerked his head toward a group of cars. "The Merc. See the Merc?" "Yeah." Caffery didn't break step. A heavy-backed man in a camel overcoat hunched over in the front seat, speaking intently to a CID officer. "The owner. A lot of tarting-up going around here, what with the Millennium thing. Says last week he took on a team to clear the place up. They probably disturbed the grave without knowing it, a lot of heavy machinery, and then at oh one hundred hours--" He paused at the gate and they showed warrant cards, logged on with the PC and ducked under the crime scene tape. "And then at oh one hundred hours this A.M., three lads were out here doing something dodgy with a can of Evostick and they stumbled on her. They're down at the station now. The CSC'll tell us more. She's been in." Detective Sergeant Fiona Quinn, the crime scene coordinator, down from the Yard, waited for them in a floodlit clearing next to a Portakabin, ghostly in her white Tyvek overalls, solemnly pulling back the hood as they approached. Maddox did the introductions. "Jack, meet DS Quinn. Fiona--my new DI, Jack Caffery." Caffery approached, hand extended. "Good to meet you." "You too, sir." The CSC snapped off latex gloves and shook Caffery's hand. "Your first. Isn't it?" "With AMIP, yes." "Well, I wish I had a nicer one for you. Things are not very lovely in there. Not very lovely at all. Something's split the skull open--machinery, probably. She's on her back." She leaned back to demonstrate, her arms out, her mouth open. In the half-light Caffery could see the glint of amalgam fillings. "From waist down is buried under precast concrete, the side of a pavement or something." "Been there long?" "No, no. A rough guess"--she pulled the glove back on and handed Maddox a cotton face mask--"less than a week; but too long to be worth rushing a "special.' I think you should wait until daylight to drag the pathologist out of bed. He'll give you more when he's got her in the pit and seen about insect activity. She's semi-interred, half wrapped in a dustbin liner: that'll've made a difference." "The pathologist," Caffery said. "You sure we need a pathologist? CID think there's been an autopsy." "That's right." "And you still want us to see her?" "Yes." Quinn's face didn't change. "Yes, I still think you need to see her. We're not talking about a professional autopsy." Maddox and Caffery exchanged glances. A moment's silence and Jack nodded. "Right. Right, then." He cleared his throat, took the gloves and face mask Quinn offered and quickly tucked his tie inside his shirt. "Come on, then. Let's have a look." Even with the protective gloves, old CID habit made Caffery walk with hands in pockets. From time to time he lost sight of DS Quinn's flagged forensics torch, giving him moments of unease--this far into the yard it was dark: the camera crew had finished and were shut in their white van, copying the master tape. Now the only light source was the dim, chemical glow of the fluorescent tape the CSC had used to outline objects either side of the path, protecting them until AMIP's exhibits officer arrived to label and bag. They hovered in the mist like inquisitive ghosts, faint green outlines of bottles, crumpled cans, something shapeless which might have been a T-shirt or a towel. Conveyor belts and bridge cranes rose eighty feet and more into the night sky around them, gray and silent as an out-of-season roller coaster. Quinn held a hand up to stop them. "There," she told Caffery. "See her? Just lying on her back." "Where?" "See the oil drum?" She let the torch slide over it. "Yes." "And the two reinforcing rods to its right?" "Yes." "Follow that down." Jesus. "See it?" "Yes." He steadied himself. "Okay. I see it." That? That's a body? He'd thought it was a piece of expanding foam, the type fired from an aerosol, so distended and yellow and shiny it was. Then he saw hair and teeth and recognized an arm. And at last, by tilting his head on one side, he understood what he was looking at. "Oh, for Christ's sake," Maddox said wearily. "Come on, then. Someone stick an Inci over her." Excerpted from Birdman: A Novel by Mo Hayder All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.