Friday, November 26, 2021

William Shaw's DS Cupidi Series and the Real Dungeness, England


 I've finally started reading William Shaw's Deadland, and I'm surprised at how quickly I'm becoming totally immersed in the book's unusual setting of coastal Dungeness, England. The closest I drove to Dungeness during the years I lived in the UK was Rye via the A259...oh, if only I had known what was only a dozen or so miles away. I hate now to think that I was so close and missed the opportunity to take a look at a truly unique portion of England. But even though I've never been there, Shaw's Alex Cupidi books make me feel that I have seen the place with my own eyes. Setting is so important to the plots of the Cupidi books that I can't imagine them taking place anywhere else now. 

These pictures will give you an idea of what Dungeness looks like (fans of the series will not be overly surprised because Shaw so vividly describes the region):





It is easy to picture DS Alexandria Cupidi living here with her teenaged daughter Zoë, and going about her business of helping to solve the assorted murders that have plagued the region since her arrival - and the incarceration of fellow cop William South. The selected photos show the often referred to nuclear power plant and the isolated area that give home to the bird sanctuary so beloved by Zoë and South. 

I'm reading the "quality paperback" edition of Deadland that was published in the UK, and I've also purchased the UK edition of Grave's End from the Book Depository, so I have that one on hand now, too. Next, it looks like I'll be ordering 2021's The Trawlerman from the UK because Shaw's publisher is sinfully negligent in getting his books into US bookstores. I'll never figure that one out.

Those as intrigued by the whole Dungeness mystique as I am, will probably enjoy this short YouTube video from 2015:


I highly recommend this author and this series to readers who enjoy high quality, and very atmospheric, crime fiction. Shaw does it as well as anyone out there today.

14 comments:

  1. We've been gradually working our way towards Kent over the years. Seems odd that we've never been over there but it is slightly awkward to get to from Devon. I know that sounds crazy given how far we drove when we were in The States but I think if you live in a small country you think small when travelling. Anyhow, I'd like to get over there next year and see Dungeness as I keep seeing it in docs and even a gardening show... someone famous lived over there and had an unusual garden... now who was it? Derek Jarman, the film director! I get there eventually...

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    1. Dungeness is one of those places you don't go to unless you are specifically looking for it...no a place you stumble upon on your way somewhere else. That's why I got so close to it without even realizing how unique a spot I was passing up. I could kick myself now.

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  2. Okay, you've convinced me that I need to check out the Cupidi series.

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    1. Shaw compares very favorably with a lot of the crime series writers I've been reading for a long time, Dorothy. I have to admit that I'm still most sympathetic to the character, William South, that he featured in the first book, but Cupidi and Zoë have grown on me now. It's time for me to get hold of the new one.

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  3. Those pictures of Dungeness are so great! What an interesting setting for a mystery series. Sounds like I'm going to have to check these books out! :)

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    1. The setting stretches throughout most of coastal Kent, Lark, with the same small group of cops working on cases that are hours apart. I had to get out my old maps to check the locations because it didn't seem possible to me until I understood from the maps why it's that way.

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  4. Sooner or later we'll get everyone reading these books, won't we, Sam? ;-)

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    1. I think we're working harder to get that done than Shaw's own publisher, aren't we.

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  5. I liked The Birdwatcher, which I passed along to my sisters and I was amused when one of them complained to me that not all the books had been published in the US, so they clearly have continued with the series. I think I need to check this one out!

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    1. The last three books in the series, at least as far as I can tell, have not been published in the US. I can't figure out what could be going on with his US rights. It's the strangest thing I've ever run into.

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  6. I've only read Birdwatcher which I enjoyed. Strange that many are not available in the US. I just checked our library system and we have (7) of his titles available - not sure how many books he has written.

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    1. The Cupidi series is five books long now, but only the first two are found in the US. The series: The Birdwatcher; Salt Lane; Deadland; Grave's End; and The Trawlerman.

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  7. I guess I am going to have to do what you did and buy through Book Depository. I loved the photos of Dungeness and will come back and refresh my mind when I get one of the books in the series to read.

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    1. Book Depository does take a few days longer than Amazon or Barnes & Noble on shipping, but what a trip those books must be taking to get to me here. I'm finding an old pet peeve come back, though, by buying British editions: they don't seem as durable as US editions for some reason. They show more wear and tear after one reading than I would expect. It's been that way, in my experience, for decades. Wonder why.

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