The fourth in the Birdwatcher’s Mystery series, Death Takes a Gander features U.S. Fish and Wildlife Special Agent Angela Dimato, an eclectic group of birdwatchers, a Canada goose die-off, and environmental disaster in the making. 

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Special Agent, Angela Dimato's partner is dead, his death ruled an "accident." She is pulled from the field and assigned to oversee a local fishing tournament on Elk Lake. The night before the tournament kick-off, she discovers the strange die-off of two hundred Canada Geese. In the course of her investigation, she discovers her partner's death may not be an accident after all. With the help of an eclectic group of birdwatchers, Angela sets out to expose an environmental disaster in the making, and soon learns that killers of a feather do flock together.
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DEATH TAKES A GANDER is the fourth book in the series, and is my first introduction to Colorado's Angela Dimato. Early on, Angela is sent out to help her partner, Ian. She has been trained as an agent in the US Food and Wildlife Department. There had been reports of sick birds in their area and she thought this might be the reason for Ian's plea for help. Tramping through the snow, Angela tries to rescue a trumpeter swan. Then she finds a murder victim. Her partner is dead -- we learn this in chapter one, without having an opportunity to ever meet him.

Even though the authorities rule this death a suicide, Angela is not convinced. She tries to piece together some of Ian's notes since he had not confided in her. Even when the request comes that she should not be involved in this case, Angela is certain that she cannot leave it alone.

Many dead or dying Canadian geese are found on one of the frozen lakes. This location is having an ice-fishing jamboree. An annual event for the area, there has been a lot of pressure to remove these geese and a human line is formed to stop the bulldozing to get rid of the geese. Arguments ensue and Angela takes charge so she can learn what has really happened. Volunteers come to help to find out what made these geese sick.

One of the issues discussed regards the public thinking about wild geese. Dirty as these geese can be, this is the other side of the story. The claim is that there is no evidence that geese feces are bacterial carriers or a danger to anyone's health.

Angela is absolutely passionate about her cause. Often she shows her strength and conviction. Even though she has been asked to let this situation go, she cannot. Then, there is an accident. Or, is this accident and the former death connected? Persistence and perseverance are two key words for the main character and her friends of like persuasion.
One of the exchanges in this story is a conversation between a French chef and Lark Drummond, one of the central characters. The chef is using wild geese for his pate. Needless to say, this is not only inappropriate but it also has all the earmarks of being deadly. This deadly identification and what is killing the geese is the central theme of the story.

For the nature enthusiastic and especially for knowledgeable bird lovers, this book may fit the bill. Yes, pun intended! It's loosely based on a situation that happened in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin in 1992, and I found this to be interesting since I am Wisconsin-based. Many geese had ingested lead and poisoning occurred. Even though, the author has changed and enhanced, this was fascinating to me personally.

DEATH TAKES A GANDER might be a good read for a naturalist. There is a lot of information inserted into the mystery, sometimes too much for me. What I did find interesting was the strength of the main character, Angela, and the cooperation of the people who care.
Other books by this author are A RANT OF RAVENS, DEATH OF A SONGBIRD, and A NEST IN THE ASHES.

Rita Ratacheck