Here’s the synopsis. A sea eagle and a buzzard are found dead. The police investigate and discover over 30 pieces of poisoned meat and a dead hare sprinkled with poison on a pair of Scottish estates. Backstory: the sea eagle was hatched as part of a government-funded reintroduction programme – its distinctive tags led the person who found its body to tell the RSPB, who in turn told the police. Police procedural element: during the police search a dead buzzard was found, only yards from the eagle, and the hare’s poisoned carcass was only yards away from both. A fingertip search then discovers the neatly cut and poisoned cubes of deer meat. Conflict element: the millionaire owner of one of the two estates had already lost a substantial amount of his EU farming subsidies after the police discovered poisoned meat in his employees vehicles earlier in the year. But he says it’s nothing to do with him.
Well, what’s the motive? Perhaps this man with millions can’t spare a beautiful bird of prey a couple of fish or perhaps, as he claims, he’s completely innocent. It’s one of those occasions where I can’t help feeling that a fiction writer wouldn’t be allowed to get away with such a scenario because everybody would say it was just so petty for a rich man to kill a predator out of spite. Quite true, most rich men who kill predators do it for ‘sport’. On balance I think I prefer the poison approach, although ideally I’d like the eagle and buzzard to be left alone to live their glorious lives which are naturally quite perilous enough. And no, I’m not thinking of writing about it, but I hope those responsible get their legal and poetic desserts.
Oh, and the bit that would stop the novel getting published? Not any of the above, but that the rich man’s profession is banking – surely too much of a cliché to get past any slush pile reader!
Beautiful Norwegian Sea Eagle courtesy of Maltesen at Flickr