Deadland (DS Alexandra Cupidi #2) by William Shaw ~ Run. Hide. Die. @william1shaw @QuercusBooks #TuesdayBookBlog

Author: William Shaw

Published: May2019 by riverrun

Category: Crime Fiction, Mystery, Police Procedural, Book Review


You Can Run

You Can Hide

You Can Die

The two boys never fitted in.

Seventeen, the worst age, nothing to do but smoke weed; at least they have each other. The day they speed off on a moped with a stolen mobile, they’re ready to celebrate their luck at last. Until their victim comes looking for what’s his – and ready to kill for it.

Two jobless and broke seventeen year old boys, Tap and Sloth, are venturing into a life of crime, cruising on a ‘borrowed’ scooter looking for a likely person they can relieve of their mobile phone to get themselves some cash.

Coming from a lower social class and being bullied at school hasn’t encouraged higher aspirations. After a failed attempt they spy a target and successfully snatch his bag with the mobile phone inside. A seemingly petty crime soon escalates into something else entirely and the consequences are shocking.

Alternating with the story of the two teenage boys is the strange case DS Alex Cupidi is involved in. What looked like a human arm in a state of decomposition has been discovered inside an art exhibit displayed in the Turner Contemporary gallery. Alex and Constable Jill Ferriter are drawn into the pretentious and moneyed art world where bizarre works of art are not unknown. Was this one such? Or something more sinister.

In this third outing for DS Alexandra Cupidi we’re treated to another superb example of crime fiction. William South, Dungeness’ former community policeman and one of my all time favourite characters, returns deeply affected by his time in prison for the manslaughter of his father—the compelling story told in The Birdwatcher. Alex hopes he and her daughter Zoë, now seventeen and going through a difficult phase, can rekindle their shared interest in birdwatching, hopefully helping to keep Zoë out of trouble.

One of the first things Detective Sergeant Alexandra Cupidi had done when she had joined the Kent Serious Crime Directorate was uncover a difficult truth about a fellow police officer, William South, a good man, well liked. At the age of fifteen, South had killed his own father. That his father had been violent and abusive had been taken into account, but South had still lost his job on the Kent police force. The arrest had not made her popular with her colleagues, or her daughter. Arriving here two years ago from London with no friends, young Zoë had worshipped William South, calm and quiet-spoken and so unlike her own mother.

The contrast between Tap and Sloth’s world and that of those connected to the gallery couldn’t be more marked and highlights the divide between the social classes. The tension and suspense is kept at a high level during the two perfectly balanced and absorbing story threads with a pace well suited to both. The connections between them are brought together seamlessly by William Shaw’s excellent storytelling.

There’s a wonderful mix of multilayered characters, all expertly drawn, particularly the two boys who you can’t help but feel sorry for and empathise with, despite their inclination towards petty crime. Their lives are challenging, to say the least. And, although the part he played was relatively small, it was great to see William South back where he belongs. The mentions of Alex Cupidi’s personal life as a working single mother to a headstrong teen rounds out her character, as does the emotionally troubled time Jill Ferriter is going through. The setting, as always, is atmospheric and evocative in its starkness and isolation, delivering a real sense of place. Deadland lived up to all expectations.

Book links ~ Amazon UK | Amazon US | Book Depository | Hive  

About the Author

The Sun hails William Shaw as “a master of modern crime”. His 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 

13 thoughts on “Deadland (DS Alexandra Cupidi #2) by William Shaw ~ Run. Hide. Die. @william1shaw @QuercusBooks #TuesdayBookBlog

  1. I loved this one – my first introduction to William Shaw, There’s so much packed into it – the setting, characters, a bit of social commentary, and a strong story too! I loved the boys especially – I thought they were very believable which isn’t always the case with younger characters in novels. Really must catch up with the series one of these days… 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I loved it too and I agree, there’s lots included. I’ll have to get round to his Breen and Tozer series sometime. You could get away without reading Salt Lane but I recommend The Birdwatcher.


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