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The Conjuror's Bird Paperback – 21 Sep 2006

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The Conjuror's Bird + The Year After + The Unicorn Road
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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks; New Ed edition (21 Sept. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340896183
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340896181
  • Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 2.1 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 180,492 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Martin Davies grew up in North West England. All his writing is done in cafes, on buses or on tube trains, and an aversion to laptops means that he always works in longhand. He lives in London and works as a consultant in the broadcasting industry.

Martin Davies has travelled widely, including in the Middle East and India, and he often plots his novels while abroad; substantial parts of The Unicorn Road were written while travelling through Sicily, and his plan for The Conjuror's Bird was put together on a trekking holiday in Greenland.

Martin Davies' books have been translated into twelve languages.

Product Description


A highly readable page-turner (Guardian)

THE CONJUROR'S BIRD is a rare treat of a book; a romance, thriller and historical novel all in one - and perfectly formed. (Lucy Hale, Hodder Sales Director)

'An exciting and absorbing debut novel...' (Sue Baker, Publishing News)

'A pacy confection of history, mystery and romance... a most engaging and unusual novel' (The Times)

An enjoyable tale of love, loss and taxidermy . . . a cracking holiday read. (Observer)

'Enjoyable, gently told yarn...' (The Bookseller)

A pacy confection of history, mystery and romance...Davies interweaves his complex narrative with energy and authority...a most engaging and unusual first novel. (The Times)

'Two gripping, intercut narratives... a lyricism that captures the joy of the natural world... a highly successful and informative entertainment' (Independent)

An absorbing historical detective story . . . a beautifully evoked narrative from the past (Guardian)

'This book I loved on so many levels...the excitement of a great mystery...a truly fantastic book.' (Manly Daily (Sydney, Australia))

'A poignancy that will aptly linger with you after you've turned the final page' (Lincolnshire Echo)

Ambitious and intriguing... part thriller, part love story, part quest, this is a hugely readable book. (Spectator)

'Ideal for book clubs, ideal too for any lover of commercial literary fiction. An exciting and absorbing debut novel from Davies.' (Publishing News)

'Intriguing and cleverly constructed' (Choice)

'Ambitious and intriguing... part thriller, part love story, part quest, this is a hugely readable book whose concerns linger in the mind... Davies' novel hints, unobtrusively but effectively, at many of the issues underlying man's urge to collect ornithological specimens, and also the uneasy relationship between science, business and the natural world.' (Andrew Taylor, Spectator)

'Poignant and beguiling... like all the best novels, it left me with a sense of having learned something.' (Andrew Taylor, author of The American Boy)

"[A] gripping book of literary suspense. . . . Davies indulges in clever speculation about the bird's whereabouts and adds an appealing strain of romance surrounding the identity of Banks's mistress. . . . A captivating novel." (Publishers Weekly (starred review))

The book flits easily back and forth between the past and the present and I found it not only a page-turner but one where the turning accelerated as the story went along (Lincolnshire Echo)

'Goddard-esque, drawing several mysteries and periods together in a fascinating tale' (Bookseller)

"Suspenseful, intriguing, and romantic, this is great entertainment and an excellent choice for book discussion groups; highly recommended." (Library Journal (starred review))

"A gripping blend of history and conjecture, romance and consists of two parallel stories wrapped around the race to unravel one of natural history's most enduring puzzles. [An] elegantly crafted journey into the nature of loss and love, memory and history." (Canberra Times)

"This book I loved on so many levels. Firstly for a greater understanding of the life of Sir Joseph Banks...then for the excitement of a great mystery... A truly fantastic book full of three centuries of secrets and surprises." (Manly Daily)

This book haunts me: I was moved, intrigued and entertained and, with each page turned, I wanted, very much, to know what was going to happen. Economically and beautifully drawn, the enigmatic delicacy of the characters and the way the stories of the past and the present intersect so teasingly, so elegantly, makes THE CONJUROR'S BIRD a deeply satisfying novel. And, best of all, the layers of the story take one deeper and deeper into the worlds of the past and the present until, in the end, there seems nothing more to discover in the lives of these characters; yet I wanted more. I heartily recommend this book! (Posie Graeme-Evans, author of THE INNOCENT and THE)

An entertaining read (New Books Magazine)

Book Description

A bestselling Richard and Judy Book Club title, THE CONJUROR'S BIRD is a dazzling debut novel, spanning three centuries of secrets and surprises.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Rowie on 28 Mar. 2006
Format: Paperback
I LOVED this book! Who'd have thought that a story about an extinct bird, a 18th-century naturalist's mistress and an emotionally challenged contemporary detective could be so gripping?! The narratives alternate between the different times cleverly, sucking you in, then turning to a new chapter just as you feel you're getting somewhere and understanding the mystery a little bit more.
The themes are big - we're talking about Man's destruction of the natural world, the reasons why some species survive and others don't, creation myths - but at its heart is a love story, and one that'll have you hooked from start to finish.
Like all good books, it makes you feel AND think. It's a really good yarn. All I can say is read it, enjoy it, read it again!
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Strobs on 28 Aug. 2006
Format: Paperback
In essence, the story revolves around two interlinked tales, an historical love story and modern day thriller. For me the most successful part is the eighteenth century love story between the real Joseph Bank's and his unnamed mistress and the fate of a preserved specimen of a very rare bird, The Mysterious Bird of Ulieta. The narrative alternates between the different times cleverly. The emotionally challenged modern detective Fitz and his hunt for the bird lead him to having to decode the puzzle of the identity of the woman Banks loved - a woman who has disappeared from history as effectively as the specimen he is hunting. In doing so Fitz must face a demon or two of his own and resolve his feelings for Gaby and their past life. I loved this book I found the story plausible and the love story moving. Great stuff.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Conchie on 10 Sept. 2011
Format: Paperback
I loved this book ! Both stories unfolded and interchanged with great ease. I loved the Joseph Banks/Mary Burnett storyline, what an amazing character Mary was. It was an education in itself to see how society's boundaries affected people's lives as they did in the 18th century. I could never quite understand if Joseph was single and Mary was single...why not marry !!! Whats stopping them. But the social constraints of course were rigidly in place. Joseph had a social standing far above Mary, and her family's history pretty much sealed her fate in that regard. In the modern storyline, I loved Fitz....and particularly loved the growing friendship between Fitz and Katya as they joined forces to search for the ulieta bird.

Two niggles stopped me giving five stars. In the midst of the two wonderfully unfolding stories and their intertwining connections.....I found myself irritated everytime our author dragged us into the congo to hear more about Fitz's mad grandfather's futile search for that flipping peacock !!! Who cares about that damn peacock ... get back to the story - I found myself screaming on many an occasion !!!.

Secondly, I found that the book came to a rather sudden almost anti-climactic end for my liking. As Mary was such an extraordinary character and truly the glue that held the entire thing together, I really would have liked to see Fitz and Katya continue their search just a little further and find Mary's grave. It would have been a fitting ending to have them lay some of her beloved forest flowers at her resting place.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By M. Cookson-carter on 12 Oct. 2006
Format: Paperback
I was drawn away from my usual read and did what they tell you never to do...I judged this book on its beautiful cover. The pages within are not disappointing either.

Martin Davies flits between the two periods of the story with gentle ease, which keeps you waiting for the emerging stories and characters, it is almost two novels in one and the way they interweave is fascinating.

And all because of a small, brown, quite unimpressive little stuffed bird, which vanished and the race for its discovery by the wealthy and the academics.

Just read and enjoy, it is a lovely book, suitable for both male and female readers, with not too much romance but just enough to keep it interesting.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By J. D. Naylor TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 26 Mar. 2006
Format: Paperback
Despite the mixed reviews here i thoroughly enjoyed this book with it's interesting characters and well written storyline.The story is told as both an historical love story and modern day thriller with and the events of the older story (set in the 1700's) determining the outcome of the modern day thriller part of the novel.Where the author is clever is that as he tells both stories side by side in alternating chapters but keeps the reader one step behind in order to keep you guessing as to what happens next which in my opinion is what writing a good mystery/thriller is all about.All in all a well written and very entertaining page turner written in a simple but enjoyable style.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Janie U VINE VOICE on 11 Sept. 2012
Format: Paperback
A modern day professor sets out on a journey to look for a specimen of an extinct bird which was only ever spotted once, on Captain Cooks second voyage. Alternating chapters refer back to Joseph Banks, who was the naturalist on the first of Cooks trips.
On page 1 the story is interesting and enticing. Fitz is immediately created as an intriguing character who gives off an aura of curiosity - why is he doing what he does? - there is an urge to know more about him.
The format is a familiar one - with a story in the present and one in the past starting in 1768, the year of Captain Cooks first journey.
Different fonts are used for each period (in the copy I had anyway) which is very effective in splitting the tales. They are also written in very diffent writing styles, one a direct first person and the other a more wordy descriptive narrative. There are many books which use this format and it is easy to get tired of it, don't let this put you off this book as this is a very good example and works well.
Time periods alternate in fairly short chapters which often end with an unfinished detail, making sure that there is a link to keep the reader hooked in.
The modern day story reads like a traditional mystery with more than a hint of a race against time as the various parties compete to find the bird. As they struggle, the reader gradually has the eighteenth century tale revealed chapter by chapter.
Occasionally the twists and turns in the modern mystery feel too coincidental but overall the plot works very well and the story of Joseph Banks is written beautifully throughout.
Loved reading this book.
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