Review: The Dinosaur Feather by Sissel-Jo Gazan

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Dinosaur FeatherThe Dinosaur Feather by Sissel-Jo Gazan (Quercus Books, 2013)

 

Dinosaurs are “sexy,” and the question of what became of them is glamorous.

Where do you draw the line between birds and reptiles in the evolutionary timeline? This is a debate that has gone on for decades. In the world of academia, where competition for funding is fierce and disagreements over how to interpret evidence can take the form of decades-long feuds carried out in academic journals and at conferences, media coverage means more publicity, and that means more money. Anna Bella Nor has essentially built her academic career around such a feud; she’s days away from defending her PhD thesis at the University of Copenhagen when her academic advisor, Lars Helland, is discovered dead in his office—the victim of foul play. While she’s distressed by his murder, her primary concern is to finish her PhD and get on with her life.

When Soren Marhauge is assigned to investigate, he finds himself with no shortage of suspects. There’s the icy-cold single mother Anna Bella, the elusive Dr. Tybjerg, and finally the murdered professor’s academic arch-rival, Clive Freeman. Solving the crime should be relatively straightforward, Soren believes, but that turns out not to be the case. The answers he needs are not in the present, but buried in the past.

While there’s a lot of scientific detail in the book about bird and dinosaur evolution, there’s not so much that it shuts down the plot, and personally I found it fascinating. It’s also integral to the central theme of the story, which is that only by examining the past can you discover the truth in the present, as Soren discovers once he gains Anna Bella’s trust and begins to put the pieces together (with a lot of help from her!).

The characters were interesting and believable. At times I found Anna Bella to be a little bit obnoxious, but in a very real way; as the mother of a very young child, who struggles to balance her career and her role as a mother, daughter, and friend, she rings true. This is a solid novel from a promising author, and I look forward to reading more from her.

 

This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

My rating: 4 stars

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