Salt Lane (DS Alexandra Cupidi #1) by William Shaw ~ Crime in Kent @william1shaw

Author: William Shaw

Published: May 2018 by riverrun

Category: Crime Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Book Review


No-one knew their names, the bodies found in the water. There are people here, in plain sight, that no-one ever notices at all.

DS Alexandra Cupidi has done it again. She should have learnt to keep her big mouth shut, after the scandal that sent her packing – resentful teenager in tow – from the London Met to the lonely Kent coastline. Even murder looks different in this landscape of fens, ditches and stark beaches, shadowed by the towers of Dungeness power station. Murder looks a lot less pretty.

If you read The Birdwatcher you’ll be familiar with DS Alexandra Cupidi, who moved from the Met in London to Kent Serious Crime Directorate.

She and her teenage daughter, Zoë live in Dungeness where once again the stark but atmospheric location is a stand out feature. Zoë is having trouble adjusting to the move, uncommunicative and prone to disappearing to the fens without warning. She and her mother don’t have the best of relationships and often clash, a bit like Alex and her mother. A case of like mother like daughter perhaps. Alex isn’t popular with many of her colleagues due to events that played out in The Birdwatcher. (I’m still hoping  William South will feature further down the line)

The body of a woman has been found trapped in a culvert near Salt Lane. It had been there a while and with no obvious cause of death and no-one matching her description listed as missing, it was dental records and a GP that confirmed the victim’s identity as Hilary Keen. Yet someone who said she was Hilary Keen visited her son Julian, the previous evening. So which woman is actually Hilary Keen?

Then another body is discovered in a slurry tank. The man was thought to have been hiding at the farm, and could possibly be a migrant worker. 

Hay prickled Cupidi’s hands and knees. The tunnel, made by arranging the bales, was just deep and wide enough for a man to sleep in. ‘So you think the victim might have been whoever stayed here?’

‘Just a guess. He never came back for his belongings, that’s for sure.’

I wasn’t too sure about Alex Cupidi when first introduced to her but she’s grown on me in this excellent character driven police procedural. She and Zoë are fully developed, complex characters, as are the supporting cast. The interaction between them is true to life, and the policing seems realistic. I was particularly impressed with William Shaw’s awareness and handling of the slowly revealed, and often repressed, feelings between Alex, her mother and Zoë as they try to unravel their complicated relationships.

The well crafted plot gradually becomes quite involved with several interconnecting subplots and the inclusion of disturbing, but sensitively addressed, societal issues concerning the treatment of migrant workers and illegal immigrants running alongside the investigation, which turns out to be anything but straightforward. William Shaw is a wonderful storyteller.

Book links ~ Amazon UK | Amazon US | Hive 

Dungeness Lighthouse image by InspiredImages via Pixabay

About the Author

The Sun hails William Shaw as “a master of modern crime”. His latest novel Salt Lane takes a character from his hugely praised standalone novel The Birdwatcher, to start a new series set in Dungeness. Val McDermid called it “Taut, terrifying and timely.” He’s also the author of the acclaimed Breen and Tozer series set in London in 1968-69. The Sun called The Birdwatcher, a crime novel set in Kent, a contender for crime book of 2016. Peter May says: “William Shaw is, quite simply, an outstanding storyteller.”

He’s also the author of several non-fiction books including Westsiders: Stories of the Boys in the Hood, about a year spent with the young men of South Central Los Angeles, and A Superhero For Hire, a compilation of columns in the Observer Magazine.

Social media links ~ Website | Facebook | Twitter 

4 thoughts on “Salt Lane (DS Alexandra Cupidi #1) by William Shaw ~ Crime in Kent @william1shaw

  1. I loved Deadland but still haven’t got around to reading this or The Birdwatcher, This sounds excellent. I loved the relationship between Alex and her daughter too – it’s complicated but not too complicated to be realistic. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

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