As a founder member of Mystery Women in 1997, promoting Crime Fiction has always been my passion.
Following the closure of Mystery Women, a new group was formed on 30th January 2012 promoting crime fiction.
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Riverrun, 3 May 2018. ISBN: 978-0-00-818120-8 (HB)
It's always good to get in at the start of a promising new series,
especially when the author has already demonstrated his sure hand with both
plot and character in earlier work. Salt Lane is William Shaw's first
venture into the contemporary police procedural in series form, but neither
form nor location is unfamiliar territory.
In fact, it's not even the
first time his lead character, Detective Sergeant Alexandra Cupidi, has made an
appearance. In his standalone Birdwatcher she is the protagonist's
sidekick, but clearly made enough of an impression on him to stick around for
her own series. Alex is an exile from the Met, transferred to rural Kent
following a disastrous affair with a colleague (why is it always the woman who
has to move on?) and finding that serious crime isn't exclusively the domain of
the big city.
There's a strong topical
theme in the form of illegal immigrant workers; and an interesting puzzle
arises when the identity of a dead woman is called into question by her son,
who claims to have seen her alive some days after her purported death. Add in a
young woman detective too keen for her own safety, and Cupidi's daughter with
far too much teenage angst for comfort, and it's soon plain that things are
going to get a lot more complicated.
The story starts to resemble
one of those spider diagrams TV cops use to form connections between apparently
disparate elements of a case. One line goes back into London, Cupidi's old
stamping ground. Another stretches into the desolate marshland on the fringes
of the Kent countryside. Yet another feeds back to the 1980s, the Greenham
Common camp and the Peace Convoy.
The characters are very much
the kind you feel go on existing when you close the book. Between a tendency to
open mouth without brain in gear, a daughter who hardly talks to her and a
mother with hardly a maternal cell in her body, Cupidi's home and work lives
promise to be interesting to say the least. Jill Ferriter, the young detective,
has plenty of room to develop and shows distinct signs that she will. Their
boss DI McAdam exhibits a vulnerable streak senior detectives are usually
reluctant to admit to.
Not only is Salt Lane rich
with characters, landscape and a tautly and evocatively written story with
plenty of emotional undertow; it also carries the promise of a series which
could run and run. And William Shaw is a name who could be popping up on
shortlists for awards in the not too distant future.
William Shawwas born in Newton abbot, Devon, and grew up in
Nigeria and lived for sixteen years in hackney. Starting out as assistant
editor of the post-punk magazine ZigZag, he has been a journalist for The
Observer, The New York Times, Wired, Arena and The Face and
was Amazon UK Music Journalist of the Year in 2003. He is the author of several
non-fiction books including Westsiders: Storiesof the Boys in the
Hood, about a year spent with the young men of South Central Los Angeles,
and A Superhero For Hire, a compilation of columns in the Observer
Magazine. A Song from Dead Lips is the first in a trilogy of
crime fiction books set in London in 1968 – 1969. He lives in Brighton.
Lynne Patrick has been a writer ever since she could pick up a pen,
and has enjoyed success with short stories, reviews and feature journalism, but
never, alas, with a novel. She crossed to the dark side to become a publisher
for a few years, and is proud to have launched several careers which are now
burgeoning. She lives on the edge of rural Derbyshire in a house groaning with
books, about half of them crime fiction.