“Salt Lane” by William Shaw – Book Review

I loved this author’s “The Birdwatcher” so much that I just had to read this title which features Detective Sergeant Cupidi of the Serious Crimes Directorate in Kent.

Alexandra Cupidi has moved to Kent from London where she worked for the Metropolitan Police. After a dead-end affair with a married colleague, she ‘up-sticks’ with her teenage daughter and moved to Dungeness. She is a workaholic and devoted to her job. As a result her teenage daughter Zoë is often left to her own devices.  Zoë harbours a lot of anger at her mother for taking her out of South London and away from all of her friends. Much to everyone’s surprise Zoë has taken an eager interest in birdwatching, after being introduced to the pursuit by the protagonist of “The Birdwatcher”.  As a result, the local ‘birders’ often double as child-minders for DS Cupidi.

“The sheer scale of nature here was awesome; disturbing.”

Things are busy in the Kent Police. They are short-staffed and now there has been two gruesome murders which took place about five miles apart from each other. Are they linked? But how?

A middle-aged woman is found in a drain culvert. She was dead before being put in the culvert but the pathologists cannot determine what killed her. Cupidi and her team discover where the woman was living, in a caravan behind a house in a nearby town. They discover a photograph of another caravan with two small boys in front…

A man’s body is discovered immersed in a farmer’s slurry pit. There is evidence that he was in hiding and the police presume he was an illegal immigrant.

What could possibly connect these two murders?

And… the dead woman was not who she claimed to be. How could two women share the same identity? The past holds all the secrets.

Impulsive and driven, Alex Cupidi puts herself in mortal danger to determine the truth.

Touted as the first novel in the D.S. Alex Cupidi series, I can only say that I will be eager to read every one of the future novels. Although technically a police procedural, this title was more about the crimes and the protagonists than police procedure per se.  Although Alex Cupidi was introduced in the novel “The Birdwatcher”, it is not at all necessary to read that one first – though I personally enjoyed this book’s veiled references to the earlier book. I truly hope that William South, the protagonist of “The Birdwatcher” might make a future appearance in one of the Cupidi novels.

I relished the references to Cupidi’s personal life. Her relationship with her daughter and her mother especially, but also her growing rapport with her female constable, Jill Ferriter, and her superior, DI McAdam.

“the world was full of desperation”

The crime was well researched and was very relevant to current social problems. The prevalence of ‘gangmasters‘, illegal immigrants and illegal workers is one which is mentioned every day on the news. The author has shed some light on the issue, causing the reader to feel more empathy for those directly affected. The author reveals humanity in all its guises, the good, the bad, and the ugly.

The writing was superb and the plot moved along at a quick pace. The setting was atmospheric. The resolution was believable and realistic. Well done William Shaw! Highly recommended!

I purchased this novel in Kindle format. It is published by Quercus.

from the author’s Goodreads bio:

William Shaw photo ©Ellen Shaw

William Shaw is the author of the Breen & Tozer series set in London in 1968-9 and has a new book in the series called “Sympathy for the Devil” which is soon to be published.
In 2016, he published a standalone called “The Birdwatcher” .
The non-fiction books he wrote include Westsiders , an account of several young would-be rappers struggling to establish themselves against a backdrop of poverty and violence in South Central Los Angeles, Superhero For Hire , a compilation and of the Small Ads columns he wrote for the Observer Magazine, and Spying In Guru Land , in which he joined several British religious cults to write about them.
William Shaw lives in Brighton, Sussex and plays music with Brighton Ceilidh Collective.

About Fictionophile

Fiction reviewer ; Goodreads librarian. Retired library cataloger - more time to read! Loves books, gardening, and red wine. I have been a reviewer member of NetGalley since October 2013. I review titles offered by Edelweiss, and participate in blog tours with TLC Book Tours.
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19 Responses to “Salt Lane” by William Shaw – Book Review

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  7. Wonderful review!!! I actually don’t think I’ve heard of this book or the author, but I can tell how great the book is from your review!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Great review, Lynne! I haven’t gotten to The Birdwatcher yet, but mean to. Good to know this author delivers consistently.

    Liked by 1 person

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  10. Rosie Amber says:

    Great review, I can hear your enthusiasm for the book in your thoughts about the story.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I also enjoyed Cupidi’s relationships with the other women in her life, and that was my favorite thing about the book. I found it especially interesting how frustrated she was with her daughter, and seeing her navigate that dynamic. Especially since her daughter seems like a great kid.

    Liked by 1 person

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