William Shaw – Grave’s End

william shaw graves end
William Shaw – Grave’s End

An unoccupied house which is for sale becomes a crime scene when a body is found in a freezer. This is just the first of a couple of bodies that DS Alexandra Cupidi has to deal with. They do not seem to be connected in any way, but the deeper she digs, the more apparent it becomes that all is somehow linked to the housing project September Homes which causes fierce protests among locals. One of them is the victim in the freezer, Vincent Gibbons, who had been observing badgers in the area and feared that the new houses would kill them or drive them away. Alex Cupidi’s daughter Zoë and their neighbour and ex policeman Bill South also protest against the destruction of the habitat, but quite soon, all three of them have to realise that powerful enemies are willing to do everything to stop them from interfering with the project.

The third instalment of the DS Alexandra Cupidi series so far is the best in my opinion. A single body with no obvious links to anything is the starting point of a highly complex murder investigation which expands from chapter to chapter. What I totally adored were the chapters the old badger is given a voice, thus, the topic of building houses without considering the impact on wildlife becomes a lot more important and interesting and one can only agree with the badger when it concludes, “People stink.”

The plot is perfectly crafted, first moving at a slower pace but then accelerating and also raising suspense. The connections between the different dots are all but obvious and it was a great fun puzzling over it. In the end, the case is solved without leaving any questions unanswered. What I liked most this time was how the characters developed, especially the relationship between Alexandra and her daughter. Bill also becomes more and more a close friend of the two while remaining a bit stubborn but he has the heart in the right place. Alexandra’s partner Jill also becomes more remarkable providing just glimpses of her past where a lot seems to remain to be uncovered.

A series which I absolutely adore and would like to read more of.

William Shaw – Deadland

William-Shaw-deadland
William Shaw – Deadland

It’s just a simple thing, a petty crime, and they have done it before. But the two teenagers Tap and Sloth do not have the least idea what chain of events they trigger when robbing a bag from a random commuter. They find two mobiles in it, one a very expensive iPhone, the other an old-fashioned throw-away phone. Of course they cannot really sell the iPhone but maybe Tap’s mother’s ex Mickey can do that. The next day, Mickey is found brutally murdered.  But that is not the only case DS Alexandra Cupidi’s team has to deal with: in the local museum an arm has been found in a sculpture after visitors had increasingly complained about the smell. Whom does this arm belong to? And who would commit such a crime?

I have devoured William Shaw’s series on Breen and Tozer in the 1960s London and was waiting curiously for something new by the author. “Deadland”, actually the second instalment of this series, again is a murder investigation, but hardly comparable to the other series which quite logically comes with the setting in modern days Kent. Yet, as expected, there is a cleverly constructed plot which connects seemingly loose strands and keeps suspense high throughout the novel.

Apart from the murder investigation, which could hardly be surpassed, I most of all liked the characters in the novel. They are all quite unique and individual. First of all, Alex Cupidi who is a clever detective but also single mother to a rebellious teenage girl. I really appreciated how she copes with her daughter’s troubles and even though she doesn’t approve of all of her decisions, tries to keep connected to Zoe and show understanding. Also the two good-for-nothing boys turn out to be good kinds in their own ways and know good from bad.

Even though it is just a side-line in the plot, I found Constable Jill Ferriter’s struggles after having shared the bed with a colleague after too much drinking and regretting it later was quite interesting. She did something stupid she regretted afterwards, but there is no easy way out of the situation, first of all, she still has to work with that colleague and second, what would happen if she reported this assault? Not only since she is police and does not want to be a victim, but also because this could seriously undermine her position in a mostly male job.

All in all, a brilliant read that leaves nothing to wish for.