A 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.
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.