This clever and engaging picture book is a delightful and witty first look at the "noir" detective genre for young readers. A pigeon private investigator emerges from retirement to track down a birdnapper with the help of his feathered friends. A cute chick reports the crime and makes herself useful enough to become a partner in the detective agency, which by the end of the book is back in business. Includes comical directions for doing detective work.
A semi-retired pigeon detective named Murray MacMurray gets roped into helping a persistent canary named Vee. New to the big city, Vee has narrowly escaped being kidnapped along with her friends, a parrot and a budgie (a clue early on reveals that this is no isolated incident), and she wants answers. Then Vee gets nabbed, and Murray hits the mean streets in search of her only to end up in the middle of a bird-snatching, feather-plucking ring run by none other than his former partner. McLaren's digital images and idiosyncratic framings don't convey nearly enough chiaroscuro comic menace: most of the scenes are downright sunny for a film noir spoof. But the author's hardboiled narration is up to the mood-setting task, Vee proves to be a capable sidekick ("The kid turned out to be a genius at picking locks," notes Murray approvingly), and there are enough fun details ("Plumage Plunderer Pinched By Previous Partner, Pigeon P.I.," reads a newspaper headline when the case is cracked) to keep readers invested in this whodunit. Ages 4 7.