Alex Cupidi lives in the atmospheric locale of Dungeness in Kent. She works for the Kent Serious Crime Directorate.
A single mother of a seventeen year old daughter, Zoë, Alex faces challenges in both her work and her home life. At work, she is constantly battling to do justice to her many cases while the police are serious short-staffed. She still feels as though she is an ‘outsider’, having transferred to Kent after a personal, very awkward relationship in London.
Back on the scene is William South, former community policeman in Dungeness, who Cupidi helped to send to prison. Now released, he is once again Cupidi’s neighbour and she is worried about him. She always held a deep respect for the man and though she stands by her earlier decision, she still feels regret about the events that transpired.
This latest case has her very concerned about two teenage boys who are on the run from some seriously scary and desperate criminals, at the same time as trying to discern the fate of the owner of a severed arm found in an art work on display in a gallery.
Another case, a murder, will link all three cases in a clever, almost ingenious way.
I was delighted to see the return of William South (‘The Birdwatcher‘) in this latest installment. Though I was disappointed that he did not play a bigger part in the narrative, he did play an important part.
The characters in William Shaw’s novels are always interesting and so fully developed that the reader comes to really care about them. I relished the references to Cupidi’s personal life. Her relationship with her enigmatic daughter especially, but also her growing rapport with her female constable, Jill Ferriter, who plays a big part in the plot of ‘Deadland’.
The teenage boys, Tap and Sloth, were rendered with empathy and though they were ‘down and out ne’er do wells‘ they were boys – who through fate and circumstance, were impoverished in many ways, not just financially. My heart broke for them both.
The sense of place makes the reader immersed in the narrative as it is so well described. You can almost smell the marsh air…
Though advertised as the second in the Alexandra Cupidi crime series, for me this is number three. After reading “The Birdwatcher” and “Salt Lane” this is fast becoming one of my favourite police procedural series. Highly recommended!
As I was unable to procure an ARC of this novel, I purchased “Deadland” in Kindle format. It is published by Riverrun, an imprint of Quercus.
ISBN: 9781786486622 ASIN: B07JFJ33SR Length: 400 pages
from the author’s Goodreads bio:
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.