I’m delighted to be one of the stops today for the Blogtour celebrating the publication of Deadland, the second Alexandra Cupidi crime novel from William Shaw.
I read the first novel, Salt Lane reviewed here, in this series last summer. Set mainly in the Kent marshes near Dungeness, not only did Salt Lane fully introduce the feisty detective and her daughter, but it was particularly remarkable for its strong sense of place. You’ll be pleased to know that it features strongly in Deadland too, however, we also get to see some other parts of Kent – a surprisingly big area for the constabulary to police.
But first this time we meet Tap and Sloth, two teenage layabouts who are lurking about in North Kent, looking for a mark to nick a phone to sell to make some money. They spot someone coming out of the station, zoom in on their borrowed scooter and grab his bag. They’ve picked the wrong man to rob – he will do anything to get the second burner phone in his bag back. Tap and Sloth will be thrust into a murderous game when they turn the phone on…
Meanwhile DS Cupidi and DC Jill Ferriter are called to the new Turner Contemporary gallery in Margate. There is a terrible smell in one of the rooms – and they discover a human arm hidden inside an urn on display. Is this a murder? Or is the arm’s owner still alive? The work in question was on loan from a private art foundation run by Evert and Astrid Miller – he a millionaire, she a former supermodel who had been a role model for many teenagers, including Jill. Astrid’s art dealer friend appears to missing too.
So we have an arm, missing people, art crime, and a man who will do anything to get his phone back. They must be linked somehow? Of course, I won’t give the game away, but Shaw takes us on a roller-coaster ride with Tap and Sloth as they become hunted, while Cupidi and Ferriter tackle the Miller Foundation – where there’s something very fishy going on, and Astrid is playing hard to get.
Alexandra and Jill seem to spend a lot of time going from one side of the county to the other, but such is Shaw’s affinity to that southern tip of Kent where Cupidi lives, that he deftly engineers the climax back there. Cupidi again proves her feisty nature and uses her powerful gut instinct to tease out what is going on despite the pressure to downgrade the art-crime investigation.
Her daughter Zoe takes more of a back seat this time, which gives more space to DC Jill Ferriter. It’s good to see the two women work so well together, and Cupidi has to do a little mothering of Ferriter when she gets into a fix. Similarly, the relationship between the two lads, Tap and Sloth takes on new dimensions once they go on the run. We also meet William South again – former copper, freshly out of jail, and Alexandra’s neighbour, who led the story in The Birdwatcher, and his help will be invaluable.
This is another complicated and page-turning novel from Shaw which I enjoyed very much. I can’t wait to ask William Shaw about it when he comes to my local bookshop in a couple of weeks time for a crime panel event. Meanwhile, do visit some of the other stops on the tour.
Source: Review copy – thank you!
William Shaw, Deadland (Riverrun, 2019) Hardback, 480 pages