The Birdwatcher – William Shaw


The Birdwatcher was published by Riverrun on 19 May 2016 and is available to buy here

Sergeant William South has always avoided investigating murder. A passionate birdwatcher and quiet man, he has few relationships and prefers it that way.

But when his only friend is found brutally beaten, South’s detachment is tested. Not only is he bereft – it seems that there’s a connection between the suspect and himself.

For South has a secret. He knows the kind of rage that killed his friend. He knows the kind of man who could do it. He knows, because Sergeant William South himself is a murderer.

Moving from the storm-lashed, bird-wheeling skies of the Kent Coast to the wordless war of the Troubles, The Birdwatcher is a crime novel of suspense, intelligence and powerful humanity about fathers and sons, grief and guilt and facing the darkness within.

My thoughts

If you are looking for a crime read that is a little bit different, then The Birdwatcher is for you!

The place is the Kent coast. We meet Sargeant William South, a man who works in community policing. He has a massive secret. He is a killer. The story follows South as his friend and neighbour, Bob, is murdered. They shared a hobby of birdwatching and hung out together sometimes. South unexpectedly gets entangled in the murder investigation. He is asked to work with Alexandra Cupidi, a police officer new to the area. Cupidi has a quirky teenage daughter, Zoe. Will Cupidi and South work out who killed Bob?

South is lovely, the kind of man you would call a gentleman. Quiet and unassuming. A man used to being alone. He is not really an anti-hero, but a victim of circumstances. With flashbacks, we learn all about his early life in Northern Ireland in the late 1970s and how he came to relocate to Kent. We see how the death of his friend has hit him. He forms an unlikely bond with Cupidi and her daughter.

What is pretty powerful is the atmosphere, with a perfectly matched slow burning drama. It reeks of isolation. It is bleak. South lives next to a power station. This is not a place of beauty. Beauty is found in the pursuit of birds, in nature and in the sea. Birds are a passion for Bob and South. We get a real sense of the devotion that birders have.

Meet a birdwatching policeman, you won’t ever forget. Gorgeous and compelling. Recommended!




About Northern Crime

Reviewer with a mind of her own. This is a collection of book reviews, which started in 2014. Mostly crime and odd other genres thrown in. Some I loved. Some I loathed. You get the picture.
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1 Response to The Birdwatcher – William Shaw

  1. Pingback: A Song From Dead Lips – William Shaw (Breen and Tozier 1) | #northern #crime

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