So unless you really need to read all the back story, I don’t suggest you start here with the very first novel in this series.
I didn’t. and I’m really glad, I guessed all that was necessary from what was written in the book I did read. However, don’t let me stop you reading these books in order – it is often the best tactic .
This is an author who has learnt his trade as he has written and published.
His main character is fairly stock – especially in this first novel but with one great unusual characteristic – he flies hawks – taken from the author’s own passion. And in A Witness Above, we don’t hear enough about the hawks – for me. Which is why I prefer the later book which I have already reviewed (A Killing Sky on the 20th August on my blog: Tiggerrenewing).
So just 3 stars for this early novel, but then I find that authors with series generally fall into two categories:
Those who start with a great bang and the subsequent books are more and more disappointing as they run out of storylines; or
Those who start more modestly and improve steadily with each book written – their skills as story-tellers increase and they learn more about the 5 stages of classical story-telling and fit their characters better into them. This author falls into this category – I think.
We also hear briefly about the (semi-mythical) free slave village of Central Park in New York with parallels in the current story. This village – Seneca Village was a small village in the borough of Manhattan in New York City, founded by freed black people. Seneca Village existed from 1825 through 1857, when it was torn down for the construction of Central Park. The village was located on about 5 acres (20,000 m2) between where 82nd and 89th Streets and Seventh and Eighth Avenues would now intersect [wikipedia]. According to Straka’s story Obadiah Robertson, a slave, helped found this village and supported it through hunting with falcons.
Another interesting discussion is about the different styles of hunting in the West from Arabia. And the photo Clearly shows the cylinder used as opposed to the glove used in the West.
As with all these books the style is easy to read and we learn history and falconry along with our mysteries without heavy facts but in a way that helps the story along.