William Shaw

The Birdwatcher

"...a very intriguing read and is worth checking out."


Sergeant William South has a secret – he is a murderer himself.

A neighbour of South's is murdered in his own home. He was the only person he would call a friend, but as the investigation progresses, South realises that this man he knew as a fellow ornithologist, a man he spent hours in silence upon the marshes and beaches of Dungeness, was an enigma to him. He knew nothing about him and the little he did know; was false.

As the investigation progresses, South finds his own past catching up with him. With added complications to his personal life, South wonders if he can keep the past at bay.

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This is a new departure from Shaw's previous trilogy. 'The Birdwatcher' is a more laid back affair with ornithologist, William South taking centre stage. Shaw's narrative swings from present Dungeness to past Ireland during The Troubles. With a father involved with the IRA, it is amazing South ever became a policeman. He so easily could have been led down a darker path. South enjoys an easy existence with his petty crimes and love of birdwatching, and has kept himself very insular. The new arrivals of DS Alex Cupidi and her daughter, Zoe cause eruptions in his gentle lifestyle. I felt no empathy for Cupidi who was portrayed as a user for her own ends and selfish. Cupidi's troublesome daughter had more redeeming factors. South is an unusual character and although this is classed as a standalone, I wouldn't mind reading the next instalment of South, wherever that may take him. I really wanted to like this book, but sometimes I felt as though Shaw was stretching the plot to its maximum capacity. For me, South's Irish past was a lot more enthralling than the current investigation, although Shaw manages to pull a blinder when unveiling the perpetrator of the crime. This was very cleverly done. While I felt there were pluses and minuses about this book, it was a very intriguing read and is worth checking out.

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