Hosted by actor and playwright Michaela Di Cesare
Tuesday, March 5, 6-8pm at Paragraphe Books
Join awarded and published playwright and director Ann Lambert (VeryHeaven, Parallel Lines) for dynamic book readings and an insightful Q & A at the launch of her debut novel, The Birds That Stay (Second Story Press), book 1 of the Russell and Leduc mystery series. The event is hosted by playwright-performer Michaela Di Cesare at Paragraph Books on Tuesday, March 5 from 6-8pm.
The murder of an older woman proves that the sins of the past are never forgotten, or forgiven, in this compelling Quebec Noir…
In the Laurentian Mountains north of Montreal, a reclusive older woman is found strangled and frozen outside her home. Roméo Leduc, the enigmatic Chief Inspector for Homicide, is one day away from his first vacation in years, and reluctantly answers the call. Marie Russell, a 58-year old writer and divorced mother of two did not know her elderly neighbour, and never expected to become embroiled in solving her murder. Like most people in her sleepy town, Marie values the quiet months after tourists and cottagers leave. But when a startling clue links the murder to previous crimes—in Montreal on Marie’s suburban West Island street in the 70s and also in Hungary at the end of WWII, she becomes an inadvertent detective. As Russell and Leduc combine wits to find the killer, they are forced to face demons from their past while confronting a cast of characters from the Quebec of yesterday and today; where no one and nothing is as it seems.
The impetus for Lambert’s book stemmed from an early story idea around the coming of age of a half-French Canadian/half-English girl. She offers, “I wanted to tell a personal story as it paralleled the turbulent history and politics of Quebec right up until the mid-2000s, woven in with world events. I realized that I could write a literary book that was a bit of a page turner as well.”
For Second Story Press publisher Margie Wolfe, The Birds That Stay is a compelling, can’t-put-down novel. “Ann’s book proves that the mystery genre can tackle any theme and delve into the darkest recesses of the human condition: the Holocaust, family secrets, the legacy of trauma, aging, and social inequality are all threads that she weaves into this entertaining read. This is Ann’s debut novel, and it leaves us eager to see what comes next in the Russell and Leduc mysteries,” she said.
Lambert named some high-bar influences, “Ann-Marie MacDonald’s The Way the Crow Flies, because it is a murder mystery and so much more (and she too is a playwright/novelist), The Diviners by Margaret Laurence because it also tracks a woman’s life over many years so honestly and fearlessly, and various murder mysteries including from Scandinavian writers (Henning Mankell) and British writers (Ruth Rendell, P.D. James, Minette Walters).”
History won’t stay buried in The Birds That Stay; for fans of Louise Penny, John Farrow and Giles Blunt.
The Birds That Stay is both topical and universal. Characters struggle with family dysfunction, the fallout from divorce, the anxiety about the environment, worrying about children, working too hard and trying to live a meaningful life. Each to some degree is haunted by long ago events and that need to be reckoned
with. For Lambert, the book also examines the idea of history repeating itself when people fail to acknowledge what really happened, “I think it is very resonant today. Hopefully readers from Quebec will enjoy the local references; the book offers an authentic, incisive, and sometimes very funny portrait of Quebec through the years. Non-Quebecois readers might see things as a bit exotic and fascinating.”
Lambert says she wrote the kind of book she likes to read, “Complex, flawed and vulnerable characters who struggle with moral questions and try to navigate the world with a sense of purpose, and most importantly, a sense of humour.” She adds, “I like books that create a rich, textured geographical, political and historical landscape that I want to know more about. I like prose that makes me look at something familiar in a fresh way.”
Praise for The Birds That Stay:
“Layers of a mysterious past must be unravelled to solve a murder in the present in this intimate journey
through time.” — John Farrow, author of The Storm Murders Trilogy
“The Birds That Stay is suspenseful, deliciously escapist fiction. It strikes a chord in its depiction of
uniquely Québécois subcultures but also in its frank portrayal of universal themes. I devoured the book in
72 hours.” — Michaela Di Cesare, award-winning playwright, Successions and 8 Ways My Mother
“The Birds That Stay is not only a masterful mystery novel debut, but also a thoroughly pleasurable adult
read. I can’t wait to read Lambert’s next one.” — Megan Williams, author and CBC Correspondent
Book launch for debut Russell and Leduc mystery series crime fiction The Birds That Stay by Ann Lambert (Second Story Press)
Q & A hosted by actor and playwright Michaela Di Cesare
Tuesday, March 5, 6-8pm
Paragraphe Books— 2220 McGill College Avenue, free admission, refreshments