Monday, August 13, 2018

Review: Salt Lane by William Shaw

Salt Lane by William Shaw, May 2018, 464 pages, riverrun, ISBN: 1786486571

Reviewed by Terry Halligan.
(Read more of Terry's reviews for Euro Crime here.)

Publisher's Blurb (copied from Amazon)


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. Murder is different here, among the fens and stark beaches.


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.

After the huge success of the “Breen and Tozer” series of historical police procedural mystery books set in the 1960s ended (see my earlier reviews of A SONG FROM DEAD LIPS and A HOUSE OF KNIVES I was uncertain how the author would follow that initial writing success, but I should not have worried as the first book of the new series is absolutely superb. Set on the coast of Kent it describes the daily trials and tribulations of a former Metropolitan Police detective sergeant who after a love affair with a married colleague ended badly decided to transfer to another police force outside London.

DS Alexandra Cupidi and her teenage daughter have to get used to a completely different environment after the hustle and bustle of city life and the reintroduction of a more rural setting. But settle she does although Zoe her fifteen-year-old daughter has a harder time but become very interested in ornithology and spends a lot of time bird watching with binoculars from various hides along the coast.

When Cupidi and her colleague discover a North African fruit picker apparently drowned in cattle excreta a whole new investigation is started. A lot of difficult questions need to be asked and answered before the enquiry can proceed. The story continues on and a lot of her new colleagues become involved as the investigation becomes larger than originally considered. The story ends with a very dramatic conclusion.

This book was the best one that I have read by the author to date. I thought it marvellous and so well researched it was really very easy to imagine an isolated farming community in Kent.

This is a really superbly interesting, atmospheric and deftly plotted police procedural but unlike his previous books it is set in the present day. I look forward to reading more stories about Alexandra Cupidi and the other authentic characters that inhabit the gripping police procedurals from this very talented author in the future, as I enjoyed this exciting book so much. Very highly recommended.

Terry Halligan, August 2018.

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