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The Naked Jaybird by Stephen P. Byers

The setting for “The Naked Jaybird” by Stephen P. Byers is modern day Canada, focusing on the life and experiences of one private investigator – Rolland Royce.

A bright young man with a hero for a father to live up to, he becomes entangled in a suspected Chinese scheme to attack from Canada to bring America to its knees. Rolland takes a job as a bodyguard for Mr. Stanley, an important figure in one of the most influential banks in Canada. It is not any surprise to Rolland that Stanley would require protection; he is soon to learn that protection isn’t what Stanley hired him for. Unbeknownst to Rolland the reason for his employment ties in with a lecture, conducted by a Chinese activist, named Wang, that he and his ‘friend’ Bud attended together in his college years.

Written in the first person, “The Naked Jaybird” details Rolland’s experiences whilst attempting to track down these potential terrorists. Aided in his search by Jay Birdsong and Billy Carpenter from the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) he is determined to solve the case before if it kills him – and it just might.

The Naked Jaybird” was first published in 1999. The subject matter, which includes terrorism and anti-capitalist movements, would not have the same impact when it was written as it would today. The language Byers chooses to describe the setting and action is simple and easy to follow with little use of technical jargon or concepts. The storyline and political arguments that it presents are well organized, though lacking in-depth analysis.

This tale aptly describes the tension that surrounds the threat of a terrorist attack and the realities of shady dealings without becoming too graphic for comfortable reading. A sense of confusion is created with the main character’s thoughts that will leave the reader guessing what is really happening behind the scenes throughout. The first person perspective gives the plot a linear feeling and there were enough typing errors to interrupt the flow of the tale.

The narrative, at several points, fades to black on large periods of Rolland’s life without suitable explanation. This abrupt change, sometimes mid-page, can lead to a feeling of disorientation. A tale of this magnitude would have benefited from a more detailed consideration of the subplots raised. Mystery, murder, love, intrigue and jealousy, “The Naked Jaybird” has a little of them all. For those who prefer to be drawn straight into the action of a story, “The Naked Jaybird” may be a bit slow. It has the potential to appeal to mystery fans with the last third of the book far surpassing Byers earlier work.

Buy this book: The Naked Jaybird

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