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Wednesday 23 April 2014

‘A Song From Dead Lips’ by William Shaw

Published by Quercus,
August 2013.
ISBN: 978-1-78206-416-9

Marylebone Police Station, 1968.  Cathal Breen, the station misfit, has just left his partner down by running away from a knife-wielding burglar.  To get him away from the taunts of coward, his boss sends him to investigate the corpse of a naked young woman ... except that her death’s not as simple as it seems.

This police procedural takes the reader straight back into the other side of the psychadelic 1960s: the police corruption and incompetence, the non-stop sexist and racist comments, the lack of all the technology that’s taken for granted today.  Breen is diffident, old-fashioned (he doesn’t even have a favourite Beatle!) and principled, not willing to accept the obvious answers; his new partner, WPC Tozer, has the entree into the Beatles fan club, likes modern music and parties, and is, shockingly, on the pill.  Real events – John Lennon being charged with drug use, the Biafran war – are woven into the storyline, and the period detail is well-researched.  The plot moves smoothly along, with an interesting variety of suspects and good action sequences, but it’s not a sixties-style thriller; it has a much more modern edge to it.

An interesting police procedural that gives a real feel of station life in the sixties.
Reviewer: Marsali Taylor

William Shaw was born in Newton Abbot, Devon, and lived for sixteen years in Hackney. For over twenty years he has written on popular culture and sub-culture for various publications including the Observer and the New York Times. A Song from Dead Lips is his first novel. He lives in Brighton.

 Marsali Taylor grew up near Edinburgh, and came to Shetland as a newly-qualified teacher. She is currently a part-time teacher on Shetland's scenic west side, living with her husband and two Shetland ponies. Marsali is a qualified STGA tourist-guide who is fascinated by history, and has published plays in Shetland's distinctive dialect, as well as a history of women's suffrage in Shetland. She's also a keen sailor who enjoys exploring in her own 8m yacht, and an active member of her local drama group.  Marsali also does a regular monthly column for the Mystery People e-zine.

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