Conjurer's Bird

Conjurer's Bird

by Martin Davies
4.0 6

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Overview

Conjurer's Bird by Martin Davies

The Conjurer’s Bird is a beautiful story in the spirit of Possession that is as exciting as The Club Dumas, inspired by one of the great puzzles of natural history: that of the Mysterious Bird of Ulieta. Seen only once, in 1774, by Captain Cook’s second expedition to the South Seas, a single specimen was captured, preserved, and brought back to England. The bird was given to famed naturalist Joseph Banks, who displayed it proudly in his collection until its sudden, unexplained disappearance.

Two hundred years later, naturalists continue to wonder if the world will ever get another glimpse of the elusive bird. Were it not for a colored drawing done by the ship’s artist, there would be nothing to say that the bird had ever existed.

The Conjurer’s Bird is a gripping literary mystery and passionate love story that tackles the intrigue surrounding the celebrated Banks, his secret affair with an enigmatic woman known only as "Miss B," and the legendary bird that becomes a touchstone for their love.

Seamlessly spanning two time periods, The Conjurer’s Bird is at once the story of this romance and of a present-day conservationist named Fitz, who is drawn into a thrilling and near-impossible race to find the elusive bird’s only known remains.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781400097333
Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
Publication date: 12/27/2005
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 6.46(w) x 9.51(h) x 1.47(d)

About the Author

Martin Davies, a television producer, is the author of two mysteries featuring Sherlock Holmes’s housekeeper. He lives in London.

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Conjurer's Bird 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
AlissaH More than 1 year ago
A great historical scientific fiction mystery. Easy to read with a very satisfying ending.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Martin Davies has taken a scant few scraps of historical fact and from them woven an intriguing literary mystery that moves smoothly between several subplots and keeps one turning the pages to see what¿s going to happen next. Davies builds the central theme of his novel on Joseph Banks, a naturalist who accompanied Captain James Cook on his first voyage of discovery in 1768-71. For reasons that remain a mystery, Banks, who had been preparing to sail with Cook on his second voyage, suddenly declined to participate and broke off his engagement to a woman named Harriet Blosset. At the end of Cook¿s voyage, Joseph Forster, who replaced him as naturalist, presented Banks with the only known specimen of a thrush-like bird found on the island of Ulieta in the Pacific. Utilizing speculation from a gossip magazine of the period, Davies develops a mistress with whom Banks falls in love as the reason for his having deserted Cook and for breaking off his engagement. A second theme of the novel is the quest of John Fitzgerald, a modern-day naturalist, to find the bird of Ulieta before it falls into the hands of several greedy collectors who have more than science on their minds. Adding spice to this mix is the fact one of the collectors is assisted by Fitzgerald¿s wife while the naturalist is aided by a student-boarder who becomes integral to the chase and his life. Chapters alternate between the modern and historical events, though the transition is easy in Davies¿ smooth and lyrical prose. There is a third theme in the novel involving Fitzgerald¿s grandfather and his fanatical quest to find the Congo peacock, a bird actually discovered by James Chapin, an American naturalist. Davies, a BBC producer, previously penned a couple of historical mysteries involving Sherlock Holmes¿ housekeeper. I haven¿t read those but plan to now.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In 1774, during Captain Cook's second expedition in the South Pacific, the crew captures the thrush-like Mysterious Bird of Ulieta. Cook presents the unique specimen, only one of its kind ever seen, to his highly renowned friend, naturalist Sir Joseph Banks, who was on the first trek. Stuffed and given a place of honor as the rarest creature in Joseph¿s collection, the bird ultimately vanishes at the same time his lover Mary Burnett, who disguised as a man sailed on the second trek, disappeared. --- Over two centuries later, wealthy collector Karl Anderson and his lover Gabriella persuades her ex, British conservationist John ¿Fitz¿ Fitzgerald, to search for the Mysterious Bird of Ulieta. Though he has not heard her voice in fourteen years and wants nothing to do with a search he catalogues with extinct species, the enthusiasm of his lodger Katya convinces him to agree. While Karl wants to add the bird¿s DNA to the Ark Gene project American Emeric Potts searches for the valuable paintings that were reportedly encased with the lost bird. --- The two subplots rotate with the historical story line containing more energy perhaps because it is straightforward with fewer twists than the modern spin. Still the duality comes together nicely so that the audience receives a deep late eighteenth century slant inside a solid twentieth century thriller. Adding to the suspense is that the key casts in both eras seem genuine with many of the Cook crowd coming from real life. Martin Davies conjurers up the best bird investigation since the Maltese Falcon flew the coop. --- Harriet Klausner
Wiliam_Maltese More than 1 year ago
IT’S A BIRD … IT’S A PLANE … IT’S A BIRD! Now, here’s a little book that I thoroughly enjoyed, if just from the standpoint of it being so unusual in its fictionalized telling of a possible explanation for a whole series of true historic events, beginning with the Cook exploratory expedition that brought back a bird specimen that turned out to be one of a kind, even it, mounted evidence, mysteriously coming up missing a few years after its discovery. The author, Martin Davis, series producer of BBC television, simultaneously word paints two parallel stories, as contemporary people search for the missing mounted specimen, and historical figures act out the drama that saw the bird lost almost as quickly as it had disembarked Cook’s ship. By way of good measure, there are all sorts of interesting facts about one other famous bird, the African peacock, some insights into taxidermy, and some interesting conjecture as to the identity of an historically renowned mystery mistress, known only as Miss B___n. All the time I was reading, I kept thinking what a great “Masterpiece Mystery” this would make, and how I’d make it a point to turn in to any such series. I haven’t come across a book this satisfying in a very long time. Bravo!
PainFrame More than 1 year ago
It’s amazing it survived.  I was intrigued by the premise of this book (that’s why I bought it) but in the end I was let down by just how inconsequential all of it was. I can appreciate a good mystery where the trail has gone cold, a love affair added to the mix and a few flashbacks to tease the truth and generally I would have a grand time. But in the end all of this amounts to not much of anything. Not that I needed the fate of the human race to be at stake, but the story just doesn’t seem to matter. Even the main characters seem to shrug their shoulders and let it go with a “I guess that’s that”. I couldn’t help but think I had wasted my time by reading this - I won’t read it again. The next time I want to experience a bird centric mystery, I’ll reread The Maltese Falcon.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago