Review: A Little Bird by Wendy James


Title: A Little Bird

Author: Wendy James

Published: 30th November 2021, Lake Union Publishing

Status: Read January 2022 courtesy Lake Union Publishing/Netgalley


My Thoughts:

A Little Bird is an intriguing, character-driven mystery from Australian author Wendy James.

When the end of her relationship coincides with learning her father is ill, journalist Jo Sharpe reluctantly returns to her home town of Arthurville in western New South Wales to take up a position at the town’s local newspaper. Her father, a grumpy alcoholic, bitter about his wife’s desertion over twenty years ago, hasn’t changed much but the town, in the grip of drought, is in obvious decline.

One of Jo’s first assignments for the Arthurville Chronicle, which is really not more than a community newsletter, takes her to Pembroke, her wealthy grandmothers estate on the outskirts of town. The Beaufort’s are little more than strangers to Jo, given they disowned her mother, Miranda aka Merry when she married Jo’s working class father, and failed to reach out even after Merry vanished, taking Jo’s baby sister Amy with her, in 1995.

Confronted with her past, Jo is motivated to re-examine her mother’s disappearance, and makes a shocking discovery that changes everything.

Shifting between the past and present, as Merry’s history unfolds, exposing her frame of mind prior to her disappearance, Jo’s narrative, set in 2018, is related in the first person.

Jo is a well-developed, likeable character. She presents as resilient, smart and determined, though her vulnerabilities, stemming from her mother’s abandonment, her father’s neglect, and the collapse of her long term romantic relationship, are evident.

The small community of Arthurville is realistically portrayed, a conservative rural town affected by drought and the subsequent economic downturn. Of its residents I was fond of local vicar Shep, with whom Jo rekindles a relationship, as well as the teens he is mentoring.

Jo’s investigation begins as she reconnects with the people from her past, most notably her mother’s friend, Kirsty, who provides Jo with some information that prompts her to look at Merry’s disappearance differently. While I felt the pacing was a little slow through the first half of the novel, there is a gradual increase of tension during the second half. I really liked the way the mystery played out, I thought James’ plotting was clever, and I was anxious to understand Merry and Amy’s fate.

A slow-burning, but gripping domestic thriller, I enjoyed A Little Bird.


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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #SundayPost #SundaySalon | book'd out
  2. Tina
    Jan 11, 2022 @ 00:40:21

    I liked Jo quite a bit and the mystery of her mother’s disappearance was woven into the story well.

    Just FYI, it’s Tina from Turn the Page. I had to use my yahoo account to leave comments because my gmail would keep linking up to my previous book blog. Ugh.



  3. Jennifer
    Jan 11, 2022 @ 11:09:49

    Me too, Shelleyrae. I enjoyed this.

    Liked by 1 person


  4. Helen Murdoch
    Jan 11, 2022 @ 11:45:12

    I like how many Australian authors set their mysteries in small towns where the “detective” gets to interact with people from their past. This sounds good.

    Liked by 1 person


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