A young female has been killed, her body found lying in an open glade in the forest. “A birdicide,” confirms Detective Nicholas Black of the Portland, Maine police. He and his partner, Detective Adam Johnson, have been asked to investigate the death of the young falcon by its owner and trainer.

The Hand That Feeds You (Edmund+Octavia) is the sixth book of the Dulcie Chambers Mystery series by Kerry J Charles, and it delivers another warm cup of sleuthing.

A HIGH-FLYING HUNT 

Dr. Dulcinea Chambers, chief curator of the Maine Museum of Art, is in her office when the museum’s new chairman of its board of directors enters. She suspiciously eyes the room’s valuable antique oak desk and mahogany armoire. “That’s a gift,” says Dulcie of the original Winslow Homer watercolor on her wall. (How it got there is explained in the first book of the series, An Exhibit of Madness.)

The museum’s new chair, Vanessa Rich, and her henpecked husband have just relocated to Portland to operate an antique auction house. Vanessa has quickly ingratiated herself to the museum’s board and cutting costs is her first order of business. Could she be profiting by selling off museum pieces?

All this weighs heavily on Dulcie’s mind as she meets her beau, Detective Nick, at their favorite restaurant for beer, chowder and clams. Dulcie has been more than instrumental in solving a number of Nick’s cases, but her worries about Vanessa appear to have nothing at all to do with the falcon’s demise. Spoiler alert: of course they do.

Closer to the crime is Rupert Hamilton, a linguist researching the communication of birds, and who is renting an apartment from the falcon’s owner, Esmeralda Graves. He’d known the deceased bird, Igraine, and had even handled her. He also knows that Esmeralda’s falcons carry tiny video cameras. Could the dead bird have recorded her own murder? 

MURDER ON THE WING

Surprising connections are revealed; and who would have guessed that Nick’s detective partner is an avid birder? All the better excuse for him to pull out his binoculars at opportune times after another murder, this time of a human, brings investigators back to the forest. 

The Hand That Feeds You brims with tidbits of art, detection and falconry. Each chapter begins with an intriguing and appropriate quote (for example, Chapter Four: “When the bird and the book disagree, believe the bird,” once said the great John James Audubon). 

For those seeking more warmth these cold winter days, Book 7 of the Dulcie Chambers Mysteries is also available; Bolt From the Blue concerns an exhibit of dazzling costumes from the British Royal Opera, and, as do all others, the mystery snuggly knits together the inhabitants of Portland with crimes that revolve around the museum. Secrets spill and clues pile up over many cups of tea. You may find yourself heading to the kitchen to put the kettle on. 

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Kerry J Charles has worked as a researcher, writer and editor for National Geographic, the Smithsonian Institution, Harvard University and several major textbook publishers. She holds four degrees including a Masters in Geospatial Engineering and a Masters in Art History from Harvard University. She has carried out research in many of the world’s art museums as a freelance writer and scholar.

A swimmer, scuba diver, golfer, and boating enthusiast, Charles enjoys seeing the world from above and below sea level as well as from the tee box. Her life experiences inspire her writing and she is always seeking out new travels and adventures. She returned to her roots in coastal Maine while writing the Dulcie Chambers Mysteries.