Boreal Owl Murder: a Bob White Birder Murder Mystery

Published By: North Star Press of St. Cloud, Inc.

Book Category: Fiction, Mystery & Detective

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Reviewed by Kathy Perschmann

Dunlap teaches writing at Mankato State University. This is the first in the Bob White Birder Murder Mystery series.

Bob is a counselor at Savage High School in Minnesota, and his sister Lily is a landscape designer. Yes, their parents did have a warped sense of humor. Bob and his friend Mike are up in the Superior National Forest on the North Shore trying to find the elusive boreal owl.

While tramping though snow on this freezing early spring night, they literally stumble on a body. It is a man they know, Dr. Andrew Rahr, a Duluth ornithologist, a man who had done a lot of research on the boreal owl and who was secretive about where to find them. Rahr seems to have been hit on the head, and is in street clothes, his parka, mittens and hat missing. Then a bear appears, and Scary Stan, another birder, magically appears out of the darkness, shoots at the bear and chases him off, and disappears. Very odd!

Police officer John Knott is suspicious of Bob for a short time, enough to call his school and check his alibi, which is all it takes for the administration to ask him to take a leave of absence. Bob goes up north, and decides to help Knott solve the case, so he can keep his job. His sister Lily has asked him to check out Very Nice Trees, a possible source of a beautiful wild flower, the ladyslipper, and white pines, in Two Harbors. She had bought some Christmas Trees from them last year, and they were almost too good to be true. She is a bit skeptical.

Bob starts his investigations at the University in Duluth, where he encounters Dr. Rahr’s wacky ex-secretary Alice Wylie, and Rahr’s old graduate assistant, Ellis. Also in the running for suspect are: Margaret, the leader of Save Our Boreals; her friend Vern Thompson, the owner of Very Nice Trees, and an ex-logger; and Scary Stan.

No one in the birding community really knows what Stan does for a living, but Bob discovers he is dating his sister, and calls himself an accountant! Luce Nilsson, Bob’s girlfriend, joins him up north, and the two of them come very close to both the boreal owl, and the murderers. Too close to be safe!

Armchair Interviews says: Dunlap’s quick pace and quick wit makes this book a delight to read.

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