21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Other reviewers have summarised the plot so I'm not going to bother repeating that. I've had a mixed response to Hayder: I thought Skin was pretty terrible, really liked Tokyo and have just read Birdman.
In lots of ways this is a fairly run-of-the-mill crime thriller with women being tortured and killed by a psychopathic killer with mother issues... Some of the plotting and writing is quite clunky and amateur, especially the flashbacks to said killer's childhood. However, the characterisation of the lead hero/anti-hero Jack Caffery really lifted this book out of the more usual fare for me.
While he's certainly a variation of the familiar 'tortured cop' fictional stereotype, Hayder manages to imbue Jack with life beyond this. Charming (when he feels like it), sexy, attractive and vulnerable, Jack is also driven, obsessional and hard with a very dark core to his psyche.
There are a few too many cliched elements to make this an outstanding book, but Hayder's ability to get under the skin of a fascinating, intriguing and edgy character like Caffery makes it one well worth reading.
Be warned, as other reviewers have said, this isn't for anyone averse to blood and gore (and yes, some of it is gratuitous), but alongside that more schlocky element is something genuinely compelling about the main character.
I am mid-way through The Treatment and think it's a far better book, more polished and intense than this one, but to really get a handle on Caffery, Birdman has to be read first.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 31 October 2002
I randomly selected this book at a UK airport before travelling to Australia. As a result, I lost 4 days of sightseeing so that I could get to the end! As an avid reader of all types of fiction and non-fiction - this will stick in my mind as one of the best books I have ever read. Destined to be made into a film, it would far outstrip anything in the 'Lector' trilogy and has a multitude of twists that no one could envisage. As far as thrillers go, it was also refreshing to read a novel that is set in the UK - (unlike the fine work of Grisham, Harris and the like). Characters are well defined, the plot is well structured and it will impact on you for days. Thoroughly recommended - buy it now!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 22 May 2003
I selected this book quite randomley from my local library - but from the minute I picked it up I realised that I was on to something special.
The main character is Jack Caffrey the detective, who as you would expect is not just your run of the mill kind of guy.
The story is excellent, although some people may find the subject matter disturbing. However the writing is first class and the subject is dealt with skillfully, and reallistically.
I would definitely recommend this book if you're looking for a pacy, gritty novel to keep you interested from page1.
19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on 8 January 2000
I could not disagree more with the reader from Leeds. I too had seen the review by Maxim Jakubowski, and had also seen it recommended by Val McDermid in The Sunday Express. There's generally been quite a lot of hype about it, and, to be honest, I expected that the book might be a disappointment, as hyped books often are.
But Birdman is a fantastic piece of writing: it's gripping, fascinating, the hero is totally believable, and the story a real page turner. From the moment we meet Jack Caffrey, Hayder's DI, he is instantly attractive. Like all the best cops, he is intensely private, hard on the outside and soft on the inside, and with a wonderfully wry sense of humour. But he's not just a tired washed up cop, like so many other literary DIs; he has a life and a set of problems that a lot of people in their 30s could identify with, and as a character, you just want to know more and more about him. I've read somewhere that Hayder wrote him because she was lonely at the time and wanted someone to fancy - and I think a lot of women will be able to identify with this as he is very attractive!
The story itself is anything but predictable, and the much talked-about scenes of violence and gore brilliantly done. Its darkness reminded me of the film SEVEN, and it is just as compelling. The story twists and turns, and the final scene, and the images in it, will stay with me for a long time.
Basiclly, this is a supremely intelligent crime novel that would appeal to fans of crime fiction, but also to people who just enjoy good writing. I really think that she will be a major star.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 20 March 2014
I am afraid that I could only give this book 2 stars because for me there was far too much irrelevant detail.
The plot was far too unbelievable and I had a job reading it to the end.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Who would imagine that an attractive young lady could have such a sickeningly horrific imagination? She's a wolf in sheep's clothing, is Mo, that's for sure. This is her debut novel, I've discovered it six or more years after it was created but I read the first few pages at the very same time as the height of the investigation into a real-life serial killing in Britain that at first glance shares frighteningly similar bullet-point details as those in this fictional tale. I'm referring to the `Suffolk Strangler' who in the latter part of 2006 murdered five prostitutes and dumped their naked bodies in south-east England. All five women were drug addicts. So it was kind of spooky to read BIRDMAN as these facts were revealed on the news, because very early on in this story the naked bodies of five prostitutes are found in south-east England, all of them later found to be drug addicts. Was the Suffolk Strangler inspired by this book?
It's very unlikely. As more is revealed about the Birdman, and why he is so called, I cannot imagine that anyone, no matter how devoid of sanity, could have carried out such pre-meditated butchery. In fact the story appears to be drawing to a close when only half of the pages have been read when we suddenly discover that, somehow, things actually take a turn for the worse and we are then treated to a second half that involves further descriptions of how low a human being can descend in their sexual indulgences and the exploitation it involves.
Compared to the crime thrillers I have read, Birdman does push one or two boundaries of horror a little further than most, although this is not to say that there have been others unknown to me that have not ventured further still. It's probably as far as I want to venture myself, however. Thankfully there's a lot more to this tale than a capacity to induce nightmares; we are presented with an interesting and credible central character in the form of DI Jack Caffery, who has for all of his adult life borne the weight of the disappearance of his elder brother when they were both young boys. Jack is convinced that his brother Ewan was kidnapped, raped and murdered by a paedophile but there has never been anything to prove this, despite the assumed killer, now approaching 70, living at the end of Jack's garden following several spells in prison for sex crimes against children. Jack's obsession with his brother is always at the front of his mind (and will take centre stage in the sequel to this novel) together with the intimately drawn relationship with his live-in partner Veronica. Indeed quite apart from the central plot which involves the less-than-mainstream issue of necrophilia, the author successfully manages to include the sometimes taboo topics of racism and cancer. In the former case it centres on the assumption of another detective that the Birdman must be black, while the subject of cancer is tackled in a slightly unusual way that never appears overly stereotypical or insensitive. I found that all of the `side issues' that affect the personal life of the central character to be wholly convincing and skilfully woven into the story such that they were at all times relevant. What might have been classified as `the love interest bit' that so many publishers demand of a writer is in this case a `not-in-love' interest and was the more fascinating for it.
Having had a few days to reflect upon the story before writing this review, I find it hard to think of any weaknesses in its pace, structure, or authenticity. The author had me guessing for the majority of the time, making me ask myself this simple question: "What's going on here?" - sorry if that sounds a bit like Dixon of Dock Green (without the 'allo' 'allo 'allo prefix) but it really was something that I found myself asking on many occasions and I found it most entertaining. In the end though I give it four stars (four-and-a-half if I could) because five should only be allocated to truly special books, ones that really stand out from the rest. Birdman is unquestionably very good if not excellent, but it does ultimately fall into the classification of the serial killer genre, of which there are so many these days that almost nothing stands out. Having said that, Mo Hayder is clearly a very intelligent and imaginative writer, this is a fantastic debut and the thought that she will get better with experience is an enticing one. I'm halfway through The Treatment - the sequel to Birdman - and the signs are that she is indeed improving. You must read Birdman FIRST by the way - otherwise there are some spoilers in the sequel that will reduce the impact of this first novel.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 15 March 2001
Birdman looks like it will start off as a substandard police procedural thriller, but merges into a serial killer epic. Jack Caffery is a great main character, a very believable person and with many flaws so associated with policeman working at this level. His character is inspired mostly by Harry Bosch (Michael Connelly) as a drink and deshivled cop moved from one department to the next. The killer himself is a little weak, but the setting of his murders is wonderfully described. And as I am from SE London, it's nice to hear places I know of. Overall a good serial killer thriller, but my only criticism is the lack of depth in the killer and other characters other than the lead.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 9 April 2001
This book is the best that I have read this year, what a great first book,I cannot wait for the next lets hope Its soon!!at least now I have finished it, I'll get some sleep I could'nt put it down.great book,recommened it to everyone.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 12 June 2012
I usually read Karin Slaughter but I'd just finished her last book and needed something to keep me busy until the next one. So I thought, I wonder what Karin Slaughter likes to read? If I like her books, chances are I'll also like what she likes.
Mo Hayder grabbed my attention on Karin's top reads on her website and, as it's failrly similar to the books written by Karin Slaughter, I certainly wasn't disappointed with this first book written by her.
I will certainly continue use Mo Hayder as my back-up author between Karin's books and I'm looking forward to reading Mo's second book soon.
on 14 May 2012
I don't remember when I started to read the Jack Caffery stories by Mo Hayder what I do remember is thinking wow! What terrific dark and frightening stories these are, I like Mo Hayder's style of story weaving and the reality is she is not afraid to engage in topics that many people would rather not read about and yes I know I have read most of them out of series order, I'm still blaming Maureen for that because in one day in May of this year when I was laid up, she brought home from the library "Ritual", "Skin", and "Gone" so I only have a couple more to read then I will get to writing down my thoughts on all the others at some time.
I like Mo Hayder's writing and the reality of them shows that she is not worried about dealing with subject matter that many readers who would rather not read about, in truth, her narratives border on the horror genre.
"Birdman", well I have finally gotten to read the first story of the Jack Caffery series and I now have a better understanding of how he thinks and why he is the type of policeman he is.
Anyway let's get to the book;
Greenwich, south-east London. The Met's crack murder squad, AMIP, is called out by nervous CID detectives to a grim discovery. Five bodies, all young women, all ritualistically murdered and dumped on wasteland near the Dome. As each post-mortem reveals a singular, horrific signature linking the victims, officers realize that they are on the trail of that most dangerous offender: a sexual serial killer.
Detective Inspector Jack Caffery - young, driven, unshockable - finds himself facing both hostility within the force and echoes of his past in this, his first case with AMIP. Haunted by the memory of a death long ago, he employs every weapon forensic science can offer for he knows it is only a matter of time before this chaotic, sadistic killer strikes again.
`Birdman' is a well written novel that is really dark and disconcerting; the first few pages do not show any restrain when relating in detailed descriptions of how five women were murdered. Mo Hayder uses this intense opening as the hook and it works very well, the speed of the story is outstanding with extremely first-class developments, especially the final one which made me once again think of Jack Caffery in a different light, you will of course have to read the book to see what I mean.
Skillfully Written, Riveting, Poignant, And Gruesome, I think that like me you won't be able to put this down until it's finished and the story will stay with you for quite some time after.