wn a German town, long ago, lives a tooth-puller's boy called Klaus. It isn't Klaus's fault that he sees his master steal a diamond from the mouth of a dead man in Frau Drecht's lodging house, or that Frau Drecht and her murderous son want it for themselves.
He has nothing to do with the Jesuit priest and his Aztec companion who turn up out of the blue looking for it, or the Professor of Anatomy who takes such a strange interest in it. No, Klaus doesn't want any trouble.
But when he finds himself with the diamond in his pocket, things really can't get much worse — that is, until the feathered man appears. Then they become a matter of life… and death.
It was a sparrow – the first thing I ever recall being dead. It lay in a rose bed in Peter Smith's front garden. I must have been about four. It was summer and the roses were yellow, and I remember the thought quite clearly; realising that the sparrow had been alive and now wasn't, and wondering where the thing that had made it alive had gone? That memory of the sparrow I stored away in my head where it lay quietly until a friend cleared out her house and gave my daughter a life-sized wire and feather sculpture of a kneeling man. My daughter put it on her bedroom wall. Every time I went in to say ‘goodnight’ to her I would see its white outline in the dark, and it set me thinking about feathered Aztec gods, about the conflicts between science and religion, between faith and proof, and I remembered that sparrow and the question as a child I'd first asked myself in Peter Smith's front garden – where does life go? It was that which gave birth to the story of The Feathered Man.