Deadland by William Shaw #bookreview

Over the Christmas break I finally found the time to catch up with one of my favourite police procedural series.

Deadland is the second book in William Shaw’s Alexander Cupidi series and it is really good.

Deadland: the second ingeniously unguessable thriller in the D S Cupidi series (DS Alexandra Cupidi Book 2) by [Shaw, William]

BLURB

YOU CAN RUN

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.

YOU CAN HIDE

On the other side of Kent’s wealth divide, DS Alexandra Cupidi faces the strangest murder investigation of her career. A severed limb, hidden inside a modern sculpture in Margate’s Turner Contemporary. No one takes it seriously – not even the artwork’s owners, celebrity dealers who act like they’re above the law.

YOU CAN DIE

But as Cupidi’s case becomes ever more sinister, as she wrangles with police politics and personal dilemmas, she can’t help worrying about those runaway boys. Seventeen, the same age as her own headstrong daughter. Alone, on the marshes, they’re pawns in someone else’s game. Two worlds are about to collide.

Kent and its social divisions are brilliantly captured in Deadland, a crime thriller that’s as ingeniously unguessable as it is moving and powerful.

MY THOUGHTS

DS Alexander Cupidi is back in William Shaw’s latest novel, Deadland. This is a series which keeps going from strength to strength, and I have been captivated since Alexander Cupidi made her first appearance in The Birdwatcher.

What I really liked about the latest book in this series is that we see the return of former police officer, William South. When we last saw him, Alexander Cupidi had handed him in to the police after discovering the truth about his dark past. When I read The Birdwatcher I thought he was one of the best characters in crime fiction which I’ve come across, so I was really pleased to see him return in this book, but he is slightly different in his latest appearance. He seems to be struggling to re-adapt to life outside of prison. He’s never going to be viewed in quite the same way, particularly by his old friends. Alexander is keen to keep an eye on him. This is not least because she thinks that by having William around it might stop her daughter, Zoe, from going down a slippery path.

While keeping an eye on William and her daughter, Alex is up to her eyeballs in a new investigation. A severed arm has been discovered at an art gallery, and it proves very difficult for Alexander and her team to get identified. But that’s not all that she is faced with. There is also the disappearance of two teenagers who Alex believes could be in grave danger. It soon becomes clear to Alex and her team that the cases could be connected.

What I think is really good about William Shaw’s writing is how he makes us care for the characters. In the opening chapters, he introduces us to two teenagers who are targeting people so that they can steal their phones and sell them on. This is something which is quite frequently spoken about on the news as well. It is quite frightening to think about how easy this can be done and how easily people can get away with this crime. It does make you think about how careful you have to be when you’re out in public. I think this was why I didn’t think much of them towards the beginning of the book, but as the novel progressed, I felt quite sorry for them. William Shaw makes you realise that there are deeper root causes which have lead them to do this. It’s only when they pick on the wrong person do the tables finally turn for them, and their luck runs out.

Once again William Shaw also brings the setting of the Kent coastline to life, creating an atmospheric landscape. If you haven’t yet read this series and if you’re a fan of police procedurals then you really need to move William Shaw’s books to the top of your list. Deadland is cleverly constructed, and it grips you from the first page. Excellent from start to finish.

Publisher: riverrun

Publication date: 2nd May 2019

Print length: 480 pages

If you would like to purchase Deadland, you can do so by clicking on one of the following links below. 

Amazon UK  Kobo  Waterstones

Previous reviews

Salt Lane

Morecambe & Vice 2019 blog tour @MorecambeVice @william1shaw @BOTBSPublicity

I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour celebrating the return of the Morecambe & Vice Crime Writing Festival which is taking place between the 28th and 29th September.

As part of the blog tour I’m delighted to be interviewing William Shaw about his new book, Deadland, the second novel in the DS Alexander Cupidi series.

BLURB

YOU CAN RUN

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.

YOU CAN HIDE

On the other side of Kent’s wealth divide, DS Alexandra Cupidi faces the strangest murder investigation of her career. A severed limb, hidden inside a modern sculpture in Margate’s Turner Contemporary. No one takes it seriously – not even the artwork’s owners, celebrity dealers who act like they’re above the law.

YOU CAN DIE

But as Cupidi’s case becomes ever more sinister, as she wrangles with police politics and personal dilemmas, she can’t help worrying about those runaway boys. Seventeen, the same age as her own headstrong daughter. Alone, on the marshes, they’re pawns in someone else’s game. Two worlds are about to collide.

Kent and its social divisions are brilliantly captured in Deadland, a crime thriller that’s as ingeniously unguessable as it is moving and powerful.

Deadland is available to purchase by clicking on one of the following links below.

Amazon UK  Kobo Waterstones

Interview with William Shaw

William Shaw

Hi William, thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. Firstly can you tell us a little bit about what your latest book is about?

Deadland is about two poor teenage boys in Dartford who nick a phone, little realising that it’s the worst thing they could have possibly have stolen in their life. It’s also about how the rich expect to get what they want, all wrapped up in a deadly chase across Kent.

Your lead character, DS Alexandra Cupidi appeared in your standalone novel, The Birdwatcher. Why did you decide to write a series about her?

By the time I started Salt Lane I had written four books with male leads; what interested me is that of the women in those books who were my secondary characters were a bit tricky. It’s relatively easy to write male characters in detective fiction. They can get away with being drunken, promiscuous and impulsive in a way that women characters can’t. For better or worse, readers judge women characters more harshly. Having written Cupidi as this rather driven, impulsive person, someone who always feels they’re failing as a parent, I thought, what would happen if I made her a lead? Writing her keeps me on my toes. Readers have to like her, but I still want them to be tutting a bit about how she choses to live.

Do you think that Sergeant William South, your lead character in The Birdwatcher, will make any future appearances?

Oh yes. He’s back in Deadland. Changed by what happened to him at the end of The Birdwatcher (no spoilers), but back for good. Zoë still worships the ground he walks on.

You’ve set your latest books in Kent along the coastline. I found the setting very atmospheric when I was reading Salt Lane and The Birdwatcher. Is Kent an area you know particularly well?

I live in Brighton – so that bit of Kent is relatively close (though a pig to drive to). Everybody outside of the South East thinks the whole of the area is built up and wealthy. The idea that there is this socking great windswept bit of marshland, next to a this wild bit of shingle, comes as a shock to some people. It’s a great, beautiful landscape to set stories in. Writers tend to use Google Maps a lot; the great thing about the headland of Dungeness is that the foreshore is all private. No Google Maps cars are allowed there. The only way to get to know the place is to visit it. I’m off there on Thursday as it happens!

Can you tell us a bit about your writing process? Are you a plotter or a panster?

I started as a total pantser, but writing at least one book a year, that becomes a bit dangerous. The cover of my next book, Grave’s End, was designed long before I had finished it. So I’ve found it wise to know a bit about where I’m heading. But I still like those strange moments where the plot refuses to go where you intended it to.

How much research do you undertake before you begin writing?

Some. I love research. It’s one of my real pleasures. But I try and avoid doing too much at the start because otherwise the research is in charge of your story and ideally you want that the other way round. I then research as I go to see if what I’ve written is plausible. In Grave’s End I’m writing about badgers. At one point a badger brings up some bones from the ground. After I’d written it I invited a Professor who has studied badgers for years out for lunch and asked him if this could happen. ‘Oh yes. Happens all the time in graveyards,’ he said.

Is there anything you have particularly enjoyed reading recently which has stuck in your mind?

I really liked Mark Hill’s The Bad Place that reminds me that a little touch of humour amongst the grimness is always good; Lisa Jewell’s The Family Upstairs has a real quirkiness to it that I enjoyed a lot. On non-fiction I really loved The Edge of the World; How The North Sea Made Us by Michael Pye which makes any European nationalism sound ridiculous because it shows how much we’ve been sharing, trading and intermingling for millennia.

How excited are you about appearing at Morecambe & Vice?

I can’t believe that this is my third Morecambe & Vice. I genuinely love it there.

And finally is there anything you can tell us at all about what you’re working on next?

I have just finished a book called Grave’s End which involves several badgers. See above. It was a book that slotted together so nicely I’m really proud of it. I’m just embarking on another one that is about trawler men and a supposed drowning. Any title suggestions gratefully received.

 

Thank you William for taking the time to answer my questions and thank you to Sarah Hardy from Books on the Bright Side Publicity for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.

 

ABOUT MORECAMBE & VICE 

In September 2017, Morecambe & Vice made its sparkling debut at the glorious Morecambe Winter Gardens. Described as a weekend ‘full of warmth, wit and wisdom’, authors, speakers and guests from across the globe flocked to the sunny seaside for a weekend filled with criminal shenanigans.

Now, in 2019 we are back for our third year running! This year the North West’s quirkiest crime-writing festival will be bigger and better than ever before! Keep an eye out on our Facebook page and Twitter stream, as we start to announce authors and panels.

https://www.morecambecrimefest.co.uk/

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Salt Lane by William Shaw blog tour @william1shaw @riverrunbooks

I’m thrilled to be kicking off the blog tour for Salt Lane by William Shaw, which is the start of a brand new series featuring DS Alexander Cupidi. With thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part.

Salt Lane: DS Alexandra Cupidi: Book 1 by [Shaw, William]

Source: Review Copy

BLURB

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.

The man drowned in the slurry pit had been herded there like an animal. He was North African, like many of the fruit pickers that work the fields. The more Cupidi discovers, the more she wants to ask – but these people are suspicious of questions.

It will take an understanding of this strange place – its old ways and new crimes – to uncover the dark conspiracy behind the murder. Cupidi is not afraid to travel that road. But she should be. She should, by now, have learnt.

Salt Lane is the first in the new DS Alexandra Cupidi series. With his trademark characterisation and flair for social commentary, William Shaw has crafted a crime novel for our time that grips you, mind and heart.

MY THOUGHTS

When I read The Birdwatcher by William Shaw last year I really liked DS Alexander Cupidi, so I was excited to find out that she was getting her own series. Although she did feature in The Birdwatcher, you do not need to read it to enjoy Salt Lane, as The Birdwatcher is a stand-alone. I would definitely recommend reading it though, if you would like to find out more about her. The evocative setting in both books alone, which William Shaw skillfully manages to capture in his writing, is enough to compel you to want to read them both.

Alexander Cupidi is thrown into her first major case since relocating from the metropolitan police to the Kent coastline. The body of a North African immigrant is discovered on a farm. He has been killed in horrific circumstances and Cupidi is determined to find out who killed him and why he had to die.  But there is little means of identifying the victim and there aren’t many who are willing to talk. Cupidi is already investigating the death of a young woman who was found shortly before her most recent victim. Is it possible that the two cases could be linked?

Salt Lane is an atmospheric, really well written piece of crime fiction. I loved the setting, which I have already briefly spoken about. William Shaw captures the gloominess of the surrounding area at times and the beauty of the area well. There are some dark, on-the-edge-of-your-seat moments in the book, and the setting of the Kent coastline, worked really well for these scenes, the marshes particularly. William Shaw has such a strong sense of place in his writing.

The mysteries in this book held my attention and the plot kept me wondering how and if they were going to come together. There are some great characters to get to know. Alex Cupidi is a single mum and she has to juggle looking after her daughter, Zoe, while investigating the murder case. Zoe has held on to the hobby that she shared with William South who featured in The Birdwatcher, and this is what makes her character unique and interesting to explore, she certainly isn’t your average teenager. Another character who I also loved was Ferriter who works with Alex. I thought they had a great working relationship and I can’t wait to catch up with them again.

Salt Lane is the start of what I hope will be a long, exciting series featuring Cupidi and Ferriter. It gets a solid five stars from me.

Publisher: riverun

Publication date: 3rd May 2018

Print length: 464 pages

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