Summary and book reviews of The Dinosaur Feather by S Gazan

The Dinosaur Feather

by S J. Gazan

The Dinosaur Feather by S J. Gazan X
The Dinosaur Feather by S J. Gazan
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  • First Published:
    Nov 2013, 448 pages
    Paperback:
    Nov 2014, 544 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Elena Spagnolie
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About this Book

Book Summary

Winner of the Danish Crime Novel of the Decade, S.J. Gazan's debut novel The Dinosaur Feather is a classic of Scandinavian noir, from its richly imagined and deeply flawed characters to its scintillating exploration of one of the most fascinating aspects of contemporary dinosaur and avian research.

Biology postgraduate and hopeful PhD Anna Bella Nor is just two weeks away from defending her thesis on the origin of birds when her supervisor, the arrogant and widely despised Dr. Lars Helland, is found dead in his office chair at the University of Copenhagen. In the dead man's bloody lap is a copy of Anna's thesis.

When the autopsy suggests that Helland may have been murdered in a fiendishly ingenious way, the brilliant but tormented young Police Superindendent Søren Marhauge begins the daunting task of unraveling the knotted skeins of interpersonal and intellectual intrigue among the scientists at the university. Unfortunately for him, everyone involved - from embittered single mom Anna Bella Nor to Marhauge's own ex-wife, who is pregnant with her current husband's child - has something to hide, presenting the detective with the greatest professional and personal challenge of his entire career.

Chapter 1
Solnhofen, Southern
Germany, 5 April 1877

Anna Bella Nor was dreaming she had unearthed Archaeopteryx, the earliest and most primitive bird known. The excavation was in its sixth week, a fine layer of soil had long since embedded itself into everyone's faces and the mood had hit rock bottom. Friedemann von Molsen, the leader of the excavation, was the only one still in high spirits. Every morning when Anna staggered out of her tent, sleepy and shivering in the cold, von Molsen would be sitting by the fire, drinking coffee; the congealed oatmeal in the pot proving he had cooked and eaten his breakfast long ago. Anna was fed up with oatmeal, fed up with dirt, fed up with kneeling on the ground that only revealed bones that were, of course, interesting in their own right, but were too young to be the reason she studied biology, and most definitely not the reason she was spending six weeks of her precious summer vacation living in such miserable conditions. The year was 1877...

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Reviews

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It’s a perfect book to get you in the mood for a dark winter. And – a warning for some, a promise for others – it’s filled with revolting descriptions of creatures from biology’s underbelly. Parasitic tapeworms that munch their way through nerves and tissue and lay eggs inside peoples’ intestines, spiders the size of dinner plates, scorpions crawling under bedspreads… it’s all in there...continued

Full Review (596 words).

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(Reviewed by Elena Spagnolie).

Media Reviews

The Times (UK)
Intelligently plotted and psychologically believable.

Financial Times
The asides—the dissemination of DNA, the structure of dinosaur skulls—prove as intriguing as the central mystery. A top-flight thriller that’s poisonous, smart and outrageously entertaining.

Library Journal
Those who enjoy crime writers such as Alex Brett, Stephen Legault (Blackwater series), or Kerstin Ekman will enjoy this thriller, which was named the Danish Crime Novel of the Decade. This title may also appeal to readers with an interest in science.

Kirkus Reviews
The results are uneven, and the ending is inevitably anticlimactic, but the journey there is a revelation.

Anette Dina Sørensen, Politiken
Gazan's novel has by far outdone, not to say outshone, all other crime novels published this year.

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Gazans brainy thriller ... Gazan orchestrates the suspenseful action and overlapping lives of her complex characters with deceptive ease ... [A] moving exploration of such broader themes as parenthood, love, and the potentially poisonous results of living with lies.

Reader Reviews

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Beyond the Book

Archaeopteryx: The Link Between Dinosaurs and Birds

ArchaeopteryxIn S. J. Gazan's The Dinosaur Feather, when Professor Lars Helland, a cantankerous PhD advisor at the Institute of Biology in Copenhagen, is found dead in his office, the police soon discover a copy of PhD student Anna Bella Nor's thesis on his lap…covered in blood. Her controversial paper puts to rest a major scientific debate between Helland and his long-time rival, the hotheaded Dr. Clive Freeman. She dares to prove, once and for all, that birds are, in fact, present-day dinosaurs.

Many Paleo-ornithologists today believe that birds descended from dinosaurs, but deciphering the family tree is (and has been) a very difficult matter. According to award-winning environmental journalist Gareth Huw Davies, "Numerous finds in recent ...

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