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Bad Bird: A Mystery (Jackie Swaitkowski Mysteries) Hardcover – February 1, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In Knopf's engaging second Hamptons mystery to feature defense attorney Jacqueline "Jackie" Swaitkowski (after 2010's Short Squeeze), Jackie witnesses the crash of a small airplane that kills pilot Eugenie Birkson, and later retrieves the camera case Eugenie tosses from the plane. It doesn't take much to pique Jackie's curiosity, and before long she's involved with tracking down information about Eugenie and the five photos on the camera's memory card. Her investigation uncovers a startling link to her own family's history as well as Eugenie's. The excellent supporting cast—Sam Acquillo, the star of the author's first four Hamptons mysteries; Jackie's boyfriend, Harry Goodlander; Southampton cop Joe Sullivan; computer guru Randall Dodge—provide valuable assistance when Jackie's efforts stir up threats. Domestic problems and Homeland Security issues enliven a plot with slick twists that should keep readers switching their bets to the very end. (Feb.)
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From Booklist

As sole witness to the crash of a Cessna in the Hamptons, lawyer Jackie Swaitkowski retrieves the camera case that pilot Eugenie Birkson tossed out of the plane just before it exploded. Wanting in on the investigation, Jackie offers to defend Eugenie’s husband during the accident investigation, but her real interest is in the pictures on Eugenie’s camera. As she puzzles over the images, she finds faces she recognizes and is led back to her own damaged past and to her long-lost brother. Tenacious in pursuit of answers, Jackie takes up residence in her office after being attacked in her home. This sequel to Short Squeeze (2010) continues the series spun-off from Knopf’s acclaimed Sam Acquillo novels. Jackie, a lawyer inclined to skirt the law, is persistent to the point of bullheadedness and sometimes too fearless for her own good. Readers may want to scream warnings to her in the suspenseful final pages of this fine hard-boiled crime novel, which effectively combines action and introspection. --Michele Leber

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Product Details

  • Series: Jackie Swaitkowski Mysteries (Book 2)
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books (February 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031255124X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312551247
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1.1 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,981,052 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Chris Knopf is the author of Dead Anyway (winner of the 2013 Nero Award), Cries of the Lost and the Sam Acquillo mystery series, including The Last Refuge, Two Time, Head Wounds (which won the Benjamin Franklin Award for Best Mystery), Hard Stop, and Black Swan.

Chris has been writing himself out of trouble since he talked a teacher into accepting a short story in lieu of an essay, and an essay in lieu of a multiple choice exam. A college professor wrote a comment on a friend's paper that would have also applied to him: "You write well, which is good because you have very little command of the subject matter."

To support his fiction habit he started working in marketing communications. That evolved into a career as an advertising copywriter and later a creative director at Mintz & Hoke Advertising and PR, which he and his wife Mary Farrell took over in 2000.

His preferred environment involves a lot of saltwater, having summered as a youth on the Jersey Shore. He lives with his wife Mary Farrell in Connecticut and Southampton, NY, where he sets sail on the Little Peconic Bay.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By J & L Rigod on August 13, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book was from the very beginning an action filled suspense novel. We have an attorney, Jackie Swaitkowski who becomes part of a crashed airplane event. Although, Jackie is a witness, she soon realizes that far more is at stake. The pilot views her and throws out her camera case just prior the flaming end.

What Jackie discovers within the case and on the grounds, gets her invested in finding out just what really occurred. Was it an accident, a suicide, or a murder plot? I had as many theories as Jackie, herself, as I stormed through this novel barely stopping to eat.

Not only does Jackie help Homeland Security, the local police, but, she solves her own family's mystery after many decades of false beliefs.

This was a great read. Not a cozy but close.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on February 5, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Southampton. Long Island attorney Jackie Swaitkowski leans on a fence watching show horses run around in a field when she notices a small plane out of control. She calls 911 as a metal camera case flies out of the pilot's door. The plane crashes moments later. Jackie retrieves the case and removes a memory card from it as if the pilot was tossing that to her. First responders from around the Hamptons arrive at the scene, but the Cessna female pilot is dead.

Having met a man claiming to be the husband of the pilot before he fled the crash scene, Jackie Googles for names of female local pilots and finds Eugenie Birkson owner of a Cessna taxi service; her husband Ed is a mechanic. The memory card contains strange photos in which she recognizes some of the people in them including a few to close to home. Ed hires Jackie to defend him when the National Transportation Safety Board ill mannered agent investigates. Jackie soon learns the near fatal way that someone wants that memory card destroyed and is willing to kill again to achieve that objective.

The latest Swaitkowski thriller (see Short Squeeze) is an engaging tale that starts off with quite a bang and never slows down. Once again (as Police officer Sullivan knows from his experiences with her) Jackie ignores the law when she takes the memory card. Fast-paced throughout, readers who enjoy their lawyers to be different will appreciate the pot smoking and hard drinking Swaitkowski.

Harriet Klausner
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Sacron on June 7, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Chris Knopf is known for the Hamptons Mystery series featuring (and narrated by) ex-boxer, MIT grad, engineer, executive, beach bum Sam Aquillio.
Now Knopf gives us another terrific amateur detective, Jackie Swaitkoski. She's smart, tough (to a point), dogged. She likes retails therapy. Her legal practice in the exclusive enclave of the Hamptons mixes real estate, civil and criminal for decent losers and anything else she can scrape up.
Knopf is known for his humor, gained from compassionate observation of the human condition and he's in good form here. Here's Jackie on her new, fancy, office, "My office...was my favorite place on earth. First off, is was a real office I have to drive to like an adult, not stagger into wearing pajamas like I did when I worked out of my house." The touches, to me, put Knopf a notch above many writers.
Jackie is fun, the stakes are high, the plot is twisty. Get this book and enjoy.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By D. Love on February 13, 2011
Format: Hardcover
When Jackie sees the plane struggling to stay in the air, they lock eyes and the the pilot tosses a case which proves to contain all the secrets that someone doesn't want uncovered. With Jackie's tenacious style and uncanny knack at getting the answer, this enthralling mystery will keep you on your toes.
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Format: Hardcover
I wasn't thrilled that Knopf was asking me to segue from his Sam Acquillo mysteries into those featuring Jackie Swaitkowski, an Hamptons attorney and gay widow who is nearly as unconventional as Sam in the way she handles her job. But I so loved his first Acquillo tales that I began reading his new series.

The first Swiatkowski story was a bit disappointing. Maybe it just my sense of loss over Sam being replaced, but I thought Knopf had trouble finding a plausible role for Ms S. Not bad, just more than a little awkward. I just found the conflict between Jackie and the small town Hampton police department a bit more than a stretch. Too much time was being spent finding a way to fit Jackie's curiosity and sense of justice into a standard police investigation without her being threatened with professional sanction. Also the local cops seem way overqualified and much too sophisticated to be credible.

But with "Bad Bird", he has dismissed all such qualms. Jackie's nosy nature finally fits easily into the structure of the story. And the great repartee and loopy local characters are just as good - maybe better - as his other Hampton tales. And his plotting - never his strongest point - is definitely better. Altogether a better balance of wit, credible characters, and plausible plot.

That said, I have to add as a postcript that I find it absolutely charming that Knopf continues to dedicate every book to Mary Elizabeth Farrell. Blessed are men who appreciate their women.
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