A Song From Dead Lips – William Shaw (Breen and Tozer 1)


A Song From Dead Lips was published on 26 July 2013 by Riverrun and is available to buy here


The Runaway

A nameless young woman is found naked and strangled in an alley on Abbey Road.

The Reject

DS Cathal Breen, an outcast in the Marylebone CID, struggles to make sense of the case.

The Rookie

Until new recruit WPC Helen Tozer – the first woman to join the team – makes a breakthrough.

And as hippies slam doors in their face, and locals suspect the new African neighbours, Breen and Tozer tread down a perilous path, closing in on a cruel conspiracy that goes far beyond class, colour and creed.

Also by William Shaw

The Birdwatcher

My thoughts

A Song From Dead Lips is the start of a brand new series set in London’s Swinging Sixties. It is very promising, indeed. It introduces Sargeant Cathal Breen and Temporary Detective Constable Helen Tozer and sets them up for further adventures.

The story starts with a disgruntled Nanny plus children discovering a body dumped in St John’s Wood. This becomes a case for Breen, a man who doesn’t quite fit into the CID. He sticks out like a sore thumb. Breen is very much representative of the 1950s. A conventional man, who isn’t about to break the rules. He is assigned Tozer, who is more a child of her time. Tozer is a Beatles fan and a woman who is not afraid to speak her mind. Together they start to piece together who the murder victim was and who would want her dead. There are links to the Beatles and near by Carnaby Street.

I have no idea what life was like fifty years ago. The nearest I have got to the Swinging Sixties is watching Donald and Jacqueline on TV’s Benidorm. I was born in another generation. My impression is that it was a period of rapid societal change, when conventional 1950s behaviours were being thrown out of the window. It was a time without the internet, mobile phones, DNA finger printing and Netflix. There is plenty that is familiar and fascinating. We get the hero worship of boy bands in the Beatlemania. We see the police investigation, through Breen and Tozer. Plus we get a real sense of the casual and open racism and sexism. Some of it is explicit. It must have been tough being from a minority ethnic background at that time and having such open abusive terms thrust at you. As for Tozer and the casual nastiness aimed at females, it just seemed sad and pathetic. Shaw does a great job in giving us the Sixties era, warts and all.

I had masses of fun getting to know Breen and Tozer in 1968. Breen particularly shone for me, as a character. This is the book that will make you wish you were around in the Sixties. I cannot wait to get my hands on A House of Knives, book two in the series.




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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