Happy release day to William Shaw’s THE BIRDWATCHER!
Chandra and I got to include this in the #allthebookreviews line up for June, and we found it intriguing and overall, a great read.
Chandra’s Thoughts: 4/5 stars
Sergeant William (Bill, Billy, what do you prefer mister?) South gains a new partner in Sergeant Alex Cupidi and she is no one to be trifled with. Together they discover the death of his neighbor and friend. In their search for the killer, the past comes back to haunt him as familiar faces from his childhood turn up – albeit dead. Evidence points to the obvious but South suspects more. Being pulled off the case, he turns to dangerous methods to solve this mystery as it becomes more and more personal by the day.
Alternating chapters from past to present showcase somewhat parallel mysteries in South’s childhood and in the current day case. The author does a great job of bringing you in right from chapter one. The relationship built with Alex and her daughter, Zoe, is wonderfully written. I especially love the camaraderie between him and Zoe, as they bond while birdwatching – each a misfit in their own way. He empathizes with her struggling in her age’s social circle as he did when he was her age. And while Cupidi struggles to make a name for herself on her first case, she not only has to prove herself to her team but to her daughter as well. Shaw builds these day to day human errors in an effortless way and you empathize with each character.
A bit of a slow start in terms of the police procedure and mystery solving, he caters to the emotional side of the reader, feeding you morsels bit by bit until you want to bite the hand that feeds you. I was only slightly less than thrilled with the reasoning behind the murder as it seemed so atypical, but it didn’t take away from my rooting for the unsung hero. If you love that European crime feel, this is definitely the book for you. I wish there was an epilogue to know how everyone turned out after some time has passed, but I’ll let my mind wander… and sometimes isn’t that even better?
Did anyone else have the song “You Give Love A Bad Name” stuck on repeat while reading this? No? Just me? 😉
4 birdie chirps!
My Thoughts: 4.5/5 stars
I had seen the description for THE BIRDWATCHER by William Shaw and it immediately intrigued me – “Police Sergeant William South has a good reason to shy away from murder investigations: he is a murderer himself.” That’s enough to pull me in!
This novel is set in the Kent marshlands, where William South both works and lives. South works for the police force as a detective, yet he gets anxious when he is asked to take part in a murder investigation. Not only will this interfere with his hobby as a dedicated Birder, but William is also a murderer.
When he discovers that he knows the victim – his neighbor, Bob Reyner, who would frequently join him in watching birds at the reserve close by. Why was such a gentle, soft spoken man such as Bob Reyner killed so brutally? The nature of the murder reminds William of his childhood and violent past. We find out within the first couple pages why he labels himself as a murderer.
To make matters worse, he is partnered with Alexandra Cupidi, a sergeant who just arrived from the Met to assist in the investigation. The main person of interest is someone from South’s childhood – with the victim being the only connection to South’s crime years ago. He must now work tirelessly to keep his personal connections to not only the past, but also to the victim, a secret.
THE BIRDWATCHER is British crime fiction to its core. I really enjoyed the bleakness of the story – the characters, the location, and the murder. Shaw did a great job developing and creating the characters. William South is a diligent and methodical man, Alexandra is vivacious and troubled as she raises her teenage daughter, Zoe, on her own. The relationships between the characters are incredibly unique.
If you’re looking for a slow burn, police procedural, British crime fiction novel, then I’d highly recommend this one! I really enjoyed Shaw’s writing style and I’ll be looking for more from him.
A big thanks to Netgalley and Mulholland Books for the advanced copies in exchange for our honest reviews!