The Birdwatcher by William Shaw

I read The Birdwatcher by William Shaw in the summer and didn’t get round to reviewing it. So, this is a short post summarising what I thought about it.

I enjoyed this book, set in Dungeness on the Kent coast. Sergeant William South is a birdwatcher a methodical and quiet man. Very much a loner, South is not a detective and has always avoided investigating murder. But he does have one friend, a fellow birdwatcher, Bob Rayner and one morning he finds Bob has been brutally beaten to death. DS Alexandra Cupidi, a new CID officer, is leading the investigation and Shaw is reluctantly assigned to her team. Having recently moved from London she relies on William for his knowledge of the area.

Alternating with the present day story is the story of Billy, a thirteen year old living in Northern Ireland during the ‘Troubles’. And hidden within that story is the reason for South’s reluctance to investigate murders. Life becomes uncomfortable for South as Cupidi takes over his house for the base for their investigation and also lands him with the responsibility of entertaining her troubled teenage daughter, Zoe after school – he introduces her to birdwatching.

Shaw is an excellent storyteller and I liked his writing style. This is very much a character-driven mystery as the suspense builds to a climax and his description of Dungeness, with its wind-swept shingle beach close to the Nuclear Power Station and Romney Marsh provides an atmospheric and vivid backdrop. I liked William, and was irritated by Alexandra. So I’m pleased to discover that this is a prequel to Shaw’s DS Alexandra Cupidi series. Currently there are five books, with the sixth to be published next year, so I have plenty more to read.

  • File Size : 3045 KB
  • Print Length : 337 pages
  • Publisher : Riverrun (19 May 2016)
  • Source: I bought it
  • Rating: 5*

My Friday Post: The Birdwatcher by William Shaw

Every Friday Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Gillion at Rose City Reader where you can share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.

I bought The Birdwatcher by William Shaw this week. It’s a book I’ve been looking out for, ever since I read about Shaw’s books on Café Society’s blog. So when I saw it was a limited time deal on Kindle at 99p I knew I had to buy it. It looks really good and it’s gone to the top of my books to read next pile.

It begins:

There were two reasons why William South did not want to be on the murder team.

The first was it was October. The migrating birds had begun arriving on the coast.

The second was that, although nobody knew, he was a murderer himself.

Also every Friday there is The Friday 56, hosted by Freda at Freda’s Voice.

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These are the rules:

  1. Grab a book, any book.
  2. Turn to page 56, or 56% on your eReader. If you have to improvise, that is okay.
  3. Find any sentence (or a few, just don’t spoil it) that grabs you.
  4. Post it.
  5. Add the URL to your post in the link on Freda’s most recent Friday 56 post.

Page 56:

Ferguson said, ‘See, I don’t believe a boy like you would have just stayed in the room with his dad, like that. Not for almost an hour.

The book blurb:

Sergeant William South has always avoided investigating murder. A passionate birdwatcher and quiet man, he has few relationships and prefers it that way.

But when his only friend is found brutally beaten, South’s detachment is tested. Not only is he bereft – it seems that there’s a connection between the suspect and himself.

For South has a secret. He knows the kind of rage that killed his friend. He knows the kind of man who could do it. He knows, because Sergeant William South himself is a murderer.

Moving from the storm-lashed, bird-wheeling skies of the Kent Coast to the wordless war of the Troubles, The Birdwatcher is a crime novel of suspense, intelligence and powerful humanity about fathers and sons, grief and guilt and facing the darkness within.

~~~

I like those opening lines – letting the reader know straight away that South is a murderer and also a policeman. And he is the birdwatcher of the title. Immediately I wanted to know more.

Have read this book? Does it appeal to you?