Salt Lane by William Shaw

salt laneA woman’s body is found floating  in coastal marshland weeks after she was killed. The circumstances make it clear she’d been murdered, but why can’t the autopsy determine the cause of death?

And when DS Alex Cupidi notifies the woman’s son about the death of his mother, he insists that his mother had been at his house, only a day or two earlier, and very much alive.

Salt Lane is an intriguing follow-up to The Birdwatcher, in which Detective Sergeant Alexandra Cupidi  had been introduced, almost as a secondary character.

Her relocation to Kent, after an ill-considered affair with a married colleague in London, isn’t going smoothly. The distance between her and her teenage daughter is growing, echoing the fraught relationship she had with her own mother. The demands of her job complicate her  attempts to heal those bonds, and too often her investigations touch raw family nerves, bringing her work very close to home.

Like William Shaw’s earlier books this one weaves real events into the story. The Greenham Common protests of the 1980s provide some background context to a plot addressing the present day issue of refugees, “illegal migrants” and how their legal vulnerability makes the susceptible to exploitation. All of Shaw’s books use a political or social situation relevant to the time, as an integral part of the crimes being investigated.

The first William Shaw book I read was The Birdwatcher. After that I went back and read his earlier books,  the Breen and Tozer series.

That series had a late 1960s setting, and I loved the portrayal of the period, as well as the many references to real events of the time .

I was disappointed when the Breen and Tozer series came to an end, so was excited to find a link in Salt Lane between that older series and this new one, but I’m not sure whether someone reading Salt Lane first would experience the same “wow” moment that I did when that connection was made.

While I strongly recommend this book, my recommendation would be to read Shaw’s books in the order they were written, coming to this one last. Each book has its individual story, but there is an ongoing story line across them all. I think cross-references between each book would be better appreciated by someone who had read the preceding ones.

William Shaw’s work is one of the best discoveries I’ve made this year and I’m impatient for his next book. According to The Book Depository, Dungeness is due for release in May 2019.



2 thoughts on “Salt Lane by William Shaw

  1. That’s pretty good reading there (I was going to say, by the Sheila — but I found out it’s passe to say that, and I don’t mean that as a double entendre). The gal did a good job. I had a conversation with someone fairly recently who had a hard time thinking about why people win awards for recorded book reading.

    1. I find it hard listening to audio books. They have to have a VERY good reader to keep my attention.
      I tried a few different audio bibles before I found one that I liked. Some of the readers could have been reading a telephone directory considering their seeming lack of understanding of what they were reciting. (Telephone directory? – Surely I’m showing my age!)

      I eventually came across one by David Suchet that is excellent.

      The only other time I’ve listened to a whole book on audio was when I was at University and had to study Edgar Allen Poe’s work – I thought it would be easier to listen to it during my frequent 80km drives between Wollongong and Sydney.
      I still found it hard to get through.

Comments are closed.