Rating: 5 stars
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Now that the State of Washington has legalized gay marriage, Bellingham Hamster reporter Peter Fontaine and abstract painter Nick Olson are getting married. They have planned a simple ceremony but nothing simple is ever possible with Peter in the picture. Their parents are coming and Peter is sure Nick’s folks are going to hate him. Peter’s mother is arriving early full of wedding ideas and an ex of Nick’s has arrived as well.
But Peter still has a job to do and his boss at the paper expects an article soon. So when a bald eagle has been found shot to death near the Castle, their home in Bellingham, Peter knows he has the subject for his next story. But the investigation is proving harder than he thought and then Nick’s father decides to accompany him as his sleuthing assistant. Could things get any weirder for Nick and Peter? Of course, they could……
Birds of a Feather is the fifth in the Bellingham Mysteries series and my favorite book so far. I adore everything about this series, from the wonderful main characters, to the quirky town of Bellingham, to the mysteries they get involved in; it all works and works serendipitously. Over the course of the series, we have met and fallen in love with so many of the secondary characters as well, Evangeline (Peter’s BFF), her stoner boyfriend, Detective Patton (Peter’s favorite lesbian police officer), and so many more. They are all present and accounted for in Birds of a Feather, just as they should be in a book focused on Peter and Nick’s marriage.
All of Kimberling’s characters come across as not only completely human, but as people whose personalities lend themselves to living in a town where everyone is involved in everyone’s business (personal and otherwise), where green rules, quirky is the name of the game, and tolerance and individuality go skipping hand in hand across the town center. Of course, Kimberling lives in Bellingham, Washington so her knowledge of the town is authentic and affectionate. This is how Kimberling describes Bellingham:
Because I live here, I’m constantly discovering new facets of the city and new slices of society–more than I think I’ll ever be able to fit into the stories. There are the illegal mountain bike trail builders, the rustic folk musicians, the unschoolers, the gamers. And then there are the institutions, like the bible software company that basically owns two whole city blocks downtown, the Humane Society, the Alternate Humane Society, the Alternate Alternate Humane Society… The town is rich with unexplored weirdness.
That oddness permeates the Bellingham Mysteries like the terroir does in wine. And added to each mystery is usually a fount of information about a subject pertinent to the mystery itself. Sometimes it is beekeeping or perhaps candlemaking or even chicken farming as it is here, but I always learn something new and delightful with each story. The element of charm combined with a certain weirdness lays a foundation for a book and series that pulls you in immediately and refuses to turn you loose at the end.
Placed within this framework is the relationship of Peter and Nick. It began slowly in Primal Red with Nick as a suspect, and builds to the relationship they have in Birds of a Feather where they are finally ready and able to get married. Both men have had trust issues, commitment issues, and communication issues, all of which we see them work through, book by book. And because we have been there from the beginning, this book becomes even more satisfying, emotionally and romantically. We’ve been waiting for this too! But Peter remains Peter, and his inner monologue is never far away. Here is an example:
The smell probably— calming pheromones or something.
He should look that up when he finally got to work, he thought.
Maybe write an article about the comforting smell of a strong man. Maybe he could write a little historical romance on the side…
Even before Young Peter knew he was shaking, Lord Nicolas had draped his splendid silken frockcoat over the scholar’s slim shoulders. “That arrow came too close for comfort,” he whispered.
With Peter, fantasy is always just a thought away, and his humorous flights of fancy will have you giggling in no time. So will Nick’s father, Eric, who comes up with the outstanding “Jealous Vengeful Canadians” theory for the Bald Eagle killing. I won’t go into specifics but they are worth the price of the book right there. Yes, there is more than one mystery here, but the real gems of the Bellingham Mysteries are the town, Peter and Nick, and everyone around them.
Consider this book highly recommended, consider the series highly recommended too. But don’t start here! For those of you new to the series, go back to Primal Red, the first in the series. See how Nick and Peter met and get a feel for one of the most charming and weird towns around. You are going to love it and them.
Cover art by April Martinez is consistent with all the other covers of the series. I do wish the models were more in keeping with the characters inside the book. Otherwise it is too dark to really see what else is incorporated in the design.
Here are the Bellingham Mysteries books in the order they were written and should be read to under the characters and the development of their relationship:
- Primal Red
- Baby, It’s Cold Outside
- Black Cat Ink
- One Man’s Treasure
- Birds of a Feather