Thursday, December 02, 2021

Deadland - William Shaw


If, as most readers probably do by now, you count The Birdwatcher (2016) as a Cupidi book, Deadland (2019) is William Shaw’s third Alexandria Cupidi novel. The DS Alex Cupidi series is now five books long, and it appears that the entire series is finally available in the US after months of being able to only get the first two books here. 


DS Cupidi lives with her seventeen-year-old daughter Zoë in an isolated beach cottage near the bird sanctuary in Dungeness, England. Alex and Zoë are still relatively new to the area, and Alex worries about Zoë having become such a loner since the imprisonment of William South, the former cop and neighbor of theirs who mentored Zoë into the birdwatching world. Cupidi is a good cop, and she covers a wide jurisdiction that leaves Zoë with way too much time to fend for herself. Without South there to help look out for the teen, Cupidi fears that her self-imposed isolation is not at all good for her daughter. 


But just as a spree of crimes hits coastal Kent that are certain to complicate Cupidi’s worries, South is unexpectedly released from prison. Cupidi has a plan: she hopes to ease both South and her daughter back into the world by asking South to keep an eye on Zoë while resuming their regular birdwatching activities. It’s a great plan — if only she can get South even to speak to her or Zoë ever again, something he’s not eager to do.


Then, in what will begin a complicated series of events ending in the deaths of several people, including one cop, two teenage boys decide to snatch the mobile phone of the wrong person as they speed by him on a moped. The man wants that phone back, and he is so desperate to get his hands on it that he is willing to kill anyone who gets in his way. That’s bad enough, but for a while it escapes the attention of the police because the snatching victim doesn’t dare report the theft. Then, way up in Margate, a severed arm is found hidden inside an art piece on display at the Turner Contemporary Museum after the smell finally catches the attention of patrons and staff. What Cupidi needs to do first is figure out whether she is dealing with a murder or with some kind of medical school prank.


After the two teenagers get themselves into more trouble and realize that their own lives are in danger, Cupidi finds herself in a battle for the resources she needs to properly work her case in Margate. Without a dead body, she doesn’t have a murder. The two boys, on the other hand, seem to leave death and blood behind every time they are spotted. But could the two cases be related in some weird way? 


Bottom Line: Series fans will certainly enjoy trying to solve the complicated cases at the core of Deadland. But the best thing about this addition to the series is how Shaw’s main characters, and the relationships between them, evolve over time. Zoë is growing up and becoming the young woman her mother can be proud of despite how much Cupidi worries about her. Young policewoman Jill Ferriter struggles with her self-image and poor choices to such a degree that her future in law enforcement is threatened. Cupidi herself has learned to control her worst management impulses and has earned the respect of her fellow cops. And, best of all, Bill South is back in Dungeness where he is struggling mightily to find some kind of life for himself. Deadland is first-rate crime fiction, and Shaw has created one of the best new crime series to have appeared in the last few years. 


William Shaw


12 comments:

  1. I'm glad this whole series is finally available here in the U.S. That means my library should get the other books sometime next year. (They already have Salt Lane and The Birdwatcher.)

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    1. It made my day to learn that they are now on Amazon. Whether it is the British edition or not, I'm not sure.

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  2. You know how I feel about this series, Sam. I wonder if there's any way I can knock some publishers' heads together when I attend Left Coast Crime in Albuquerque next year? This entire series needs to be readily available over here!

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    1. Sometime in just the last few days the entire series appeared on Amazon in the US for the first time. Only two books were available less than a week ago; today when I checked Amazon all five were there for sale. Finally...

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  3. Glad you enjoyed this Sam. I need to get back to the series as I enjoyed Birdwatcher a lot. I know the library has Salt Lane for sure. Off to check out the other titles.

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    1. I was kind of shocked that Bill South didn't have the series built around him, and I had my doubts about it being centered on Cupidi. But I get it now...and I'm still hoping for more from South.

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  4. I felt the same way after Birdwatcher...I wanted more Bill South. I'm looking forward to this one!

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    1. I'm hoping he's back in the books for good since he's been reintroduced in this one.

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  5. I enjoyed The Birdwatcher quite a lot and liked the characters of South and Cupidi. I really should read more of the series. Maybe in the new year.

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    1. I really like the series, especially the relationship between South and the Cupidi mother and daughter. Lots of possibilities in that relationship.

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  6. I have been very remiss about keeping up with comments so I just saw in the comments that the books are now available on Amazon. That is wonderful news. I will be buying some of them soon.

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    1. I was caught by surprise to see them there one day, too. I did order one of the earlier ones from Amazon a while back and was really surprised to have the UK version delivered rather than anything published in the US. Makes me wonder if it's the same case with the rest of them now.

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