The Birdwatcher by William Shaw
The Last Word Review
Sometimes reading a crime novel that is set in a specific location it can help if you know the landscape, and the setting for William Shaw’s new crime novel The Birdwatcher is the desolate Kent coastline that is Dungeness an area I know only too well as I spent a lot of my younger days birdwatching along this part of the Kent coast and for a base to write a crime novel it works.
William South is the Police Sergeant for the local area he lives and works this part of Kent and a keen birder the autumn migration is now in full swing and William South would rather be out looking for birds, but when he is asked to attend murder, there is already a DS from London investigating and Alexandra Cupidi needs some support. William is somewhat nervous as we already know William himself is a murderer this by his own admission and through the story-line we move back and forth to William’s past as a 13-year old growing up during the troubles in Northern Ireland.
The brutally murdered man Bob Reyner is a neighbour and also a friend to South they used to go birding together so there is no way he will be able to leave this alone, as much as he would rather. So why was Bob so brutally murdered? So now the past memories of growing up in Northern Ireland start to come back we will learn later in the book as to why South calls himself a murderer.
Newly arrived Alexandra Cupidi from the Met this is her first case, and together will South they start to investigate the murder, but there is something that is causing a distraction to Alexandra and that is her daughter Zoe who is troubled in her own way and is struggling to settle into her new home and environment. For both South and Cupidi there is a connection of sorts between them. Now there is another murder and this one is belongs to the distant past of South, is there a connection between the two murders is South’s past slowly catching up with him. Suddenly Cupidi does not want South anywhere near the murder investigation.
South is a loner and grumpy by any standards and would prefer his company. At first you struggle to empathise with the leading character but as the story moves along at a blistering pace you start to understand William South and his troubled life.
The Birdwatcher is a gripping crime novel that is superbly written and delivers on a level that only the very best in crime writing can deliver. The story moves back and forth to the past and the present as we read of young Billy and then William in the present the characters have been so well brought together which makes the story more credible.
The cover to the hardback actually brings to life the wind swept moody Dungeness coastline this is a hardback to savour and enjoy. A must read.
My thanks to the publishers riverrun for an advanced review copy.
The Birdwatcher by William Shaw was published on 19 May by riverrun and is available through branches of Waterstones and all good book shops.