Beware the Tufted Duck: A Lucy Wayles Mystery by Lydia Adamson. First published 1996.
Tufted Ducks are probably my favorite species of duck. I might even prefer them over any other kind of fowl. Who can resist a cute little black and white duck with an adorable tuft of hair-like feathers hanging off the back of its head? Not me. I was always happy to see them when we lived in Holland, where they were fairly common, and I miss them now that we're living in the American midwest. We've got two species of Scaup here that come close with their black-and-white plumage, but they are maddening to tell apart from each other, plus they lack the all-important tuft. Tufted Ducks are aggravation-free.
All this praise for my beloved Tufted Duck is an attempt to say something nice rather than say nothing at all about Adamson's Beware the Tufted Duck. Duck is the first in Adamson's series of "Birdwatcher Mystery" whodunits featuring birder/crime-solver Lucy Wayles, a New York City birdwatcher with an extremely eccentric personality, and an odd circle of friends. Duck is told through the eyes of Lucy's friend and romantic hopeful Markus Bloch. When one of their estranged birding buddies is found murdered in Central Park... oh, who cares? The story is convoluted, the characters are incomprehensible, and the writing is... I think the word I am looking for is: distracting. Lucy is supposedly a transplanted southerner, while Markus presumably is a lifelong New Yorker. Then why do they sound like they belong in a Ruth Rendell novel? The characters in this book didn't sound anything like Americans to me, let alone New Yorkers. I can't really put my finger on it, but the dialog and text just didn't flow naturally to me. Do New Yorkers typically eat brisket, or drink ale? Would they cavort with a character named Emma Pip? I don't know, maybe I'm being picky. Maybe I've been out of the United States for too long. Either way, I had been looking forward to reading a series of books about a crime-solving birdwatcher but ended up horribly disappointed with Beware the Tufted Duck. Needless to say, I will not be reading the rest of the books in the series. This one was enough of a chore to get through.
I give Beware the Tufted Duck: A Lucy Wayles Mystery one and a half Goldfinches out of five, and I strongly urge you to beware Beware the Tufted Duck.