Adrian Mandrick, a successful anesthesiologist with a wife and two young children, has two passions in life besides his family, birding and drugs. He’s just a bird or two behind the holder of the longest “life list” of birds seen when he learns that the record-holder has suddenly died. Now in second place potentially, and hoping to rise to first, he seizes every opportunity to race off to try to spot a bird not on his list to surpass the total of the deceased birder. His life has not always been easy – his mother took her two children and ran away from her violent husband when he was in his teens. She has her own problems, primarily alcohol, and he has been estranged from her for years. When she calls and leaves a desperate sounding message, he avoids returning her call – ultimately, it will be too late. Having weaned himself off an addiction to various pharmacological drugs after almost ten years as a undetected user, he has been clean for a couple of years. The stress of his mother’s call, his birding preoccupation, and his wife’s unhappiness with his emotional distance and birding obsession, causes him to relapse. Then a neophyte birder on a website claims to have seen an ivory-billed woodpecker, long thought to be extinct, although there have been a few unsubstantiated sightings deep in southern swamps over the years. His chase after this elusive bird will bring him face-to-face with his past. Very promising debut novel. You will root for both Adrian and the amazing bird. 271 pp.