The Conjurer's Bird
By Martin Davies
(Broadway Books, Paperback, 9781400097340, 400pp.)
Publication Date: August 22, 2006
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In 1774, an unusual bird was spotted on Captain Cook’s second expedition to the South Seas. This single specimen was captured, preserved, and brought back to England—and no other bird of its kind was ever seen again. The bird was given to naturalist Joseph Banks, who displayed it proudly in his collection until it too disappeared. Were it not for a colored drawing created by the ship’s artist, it would seem that the Mysterious Bird of Ulieta had never existed.
Two hundred years later, naturalist John Fitzgerald gets a call from an old friend asking him to join the search for the bird’s remains. He traces the bird’s history, uncovering surprising details about the role of a woman known only as Miss B in Joseph Banks’s life and career. Could she be the key to solving the mystery—to finally finding the lost Bird of Ulieta?
Seamlessly leaping between two time periods, The Conjurer’s Bird is at once the story of Joseph Banks’s secret life and of Fitz’s thrilling and near-impossible race to find the elusive bird.
A Book Sense Notable Book
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Martin Davies, a television producer, is the author of two mysteries featuring Sherlock Holmes’s housekeeper. He lives in London.
“An ambitious mystery . . . [Martin] slips in descriptions so deft, readers can smell and touch his scenes. . . . As the novel’s past and present begin to fuse amid unexpected twists—the book becomes increasingly compelling.” —Cleveland Plain Dealer
“Cunningly spins two stories. . . .[An] absorbing mystery. . . .The modern story’s tension and its narrator’s reticence contrast perfectly with Davies’s assured depiction of eighteenth-century art, science, and exploration all intersecting on the shifting terrain of emotion.” —Boston Globe
“[An] enticing blend of fact and historical fiction . . . The Conjurer’s Bird is in the end a perfect alternative to the plethora of routine, forgettable mystery novels.” —Pages