Salt Lane (DS Alexandra Cupidi #1)
A murdered migrant is the first big case for the embattled DS Alexandra Cupidi in a new series by the acclaimed author of The Birdwatcher.No-one knew their names, the bodies found in the water. There are people here, in plain sight, that no-one ever notices at all.DS Alexandra Cupidi has done it again. She should have learnt to keep her big mouth shut, after the scandal that sent her packing - resentful teenager in tow - from the London Met to the lonely Kent coastline. Even murder looks different in this landscape of fens, ditches and stark beaches, shadowed by the towers of Dungeness power station. Murder looks a lot less pretty.The man drowned in the slurry pit had been herded there like an animal. He was North African, like many of the fruit pickers that work the fields. The more Cupidi discovers, the more she wants to ask - but these people are suspicious of questions.It will take an understanding of this strange place - its old ways and new crimes - to uncover the dark conspiracy behind the murder. Cupidi is not afraid to travel that road. But she should be. She should, by now, have learnt.Salt Lane is the first in the new DS Alexandra Cupidi series. With his trademark characterisation and flair for social commentary, William Shaw has crafted a crime novel for our time that grips you, mind and heart.

Salt Lane (DS Alexandra Cupidi #1) Details

TitleSalt Lane (DS Alexandra Cupidi #1)
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseMay 3rd, 2018
PublisherQuercus Books
ISBN-139781786486578
Rating
GenreMystery, Crime, Fiction, Thriller, Mystery Thriller, European Literature, British Literature, Suspense, Audiobook, Detective, Family

Salt Lane (DS Alexandra Cupidi #1) Review

  • Paromjit
    January 1, 1970
    William Shaw begins this series featuring DS Alex Cupidi after introducing us to her in the excellent The Birdwatcher, set in the remote, atmospheric and isolated Kent coastline with its marshes. The story echoes many current social and political issues in Britain today, the anti-immigrant fervour, the lack of rights and inability to work faced asylum seekers, and the precarious and exploitative world of gangmasters and vulnerable migrant workers desperately needed to pick fruit and vegetables o William Shaw begins this series featuring DS Alex Cupidi after introducing us to her in the excellent The Birdwatcher, set in the remote, atmospheric and isolated Kent coastline with its marshes. The story echoes many current social and political issues in Britain today, the anti-immigrant fervour, the lack of rights and inability to work faced asylum seekers, and the precarious and exploitative world of gangmasters and vulnerable migrant workers desperately needed to pick fruit and vegetables on farms. Alex has settled into her new home after working at the Met in London, but her affair with a married cop which precipitated her move to Kent, comes back to haunt her in the present. Her daughter, Zoe, is a loner, and unlike many young teens, has become a passionate birdwatcher. Alex worries about her as the distance between them grows, and Zoe emanates a deep sadness that she fails to get to the bottom of.A body of a woman is found in the waters close to Salt Lane. It has been there for some time and the cause of death is hard to determine. The victim is eventually identified as Hilary Keen, and a visit to her son, Julian, to notify him of her death raises a surprising conundrum, Julian had seen Keen the night before, meaning his mother could not be their murder victim. Who is the real Hilary Keen? Another murder victim is discovered by a farmer in his slurry tank, a muslim North African man who had been assaulted prior to being killed. Alex finds herself working with the young, enthusiastic and keen Constable Ferriter, a woman with bags of courage and personality, who is emotionally hard hit by the first murders that she encounters. Alex's boss, DI MacAdam, finds himself having to face the stress and pressures of an IPCC investigation over his decisions that result in a man's death. Progress on the two cases is slow and laboured as questions asked of migrant workers reveal a wall of silence and fear. Cupidi and Ferriter slowly begin to get an inkling of the truth and the connections between the two murders as danger and menace begins to surround them.William Shaw weaves a great compelling and atmospheric crime story that is politically and socially relevant. Alex is a flawed central character, dogged in her determination to uncover the truth that lie behind the murders. She is neglectful of Zoe, which has her inviting her mother to stay, even though there is a difficult relationship between them. Shaw has done a sterling job in establishing her as a woman cop that commands interest, so much so that I am really looking forward to her next outing! This is an engaging and entertaining crime novel that I loved reading with a fantastic location. Many thanks to Quercus for an ARC.
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  • Linda
    January 1, 1970
    The world is full of desperation.Desperation seems to be the driving force that makes one feel the pinpricks of their present existence. It bears no precise name, no precise locality. It visits upon the strong and the weak. It's the causal factor in being misguided, misinformed, and misjudging of the stranger who travels a far different road.Detective Sergeant Alex Cupidi still feels the uneasiness of her decision to leave the London Met Police and take on a new assignment with the Kent Police. The world is full of desperation.Desperation seems to be the driving force that makes one feel the pinpricks of their present existence. It bears no precise name, no precise locality. It visits upon the strong and the weak. It's the causal factor in being misguided, misinformed, and misjudging of the stranger who travels a far different road.Detective Sergeant Alex Cupidi still feels the uneasiness of her decision to leave the London Met Police and take on a new assignment with the Kent Police. Funny thing. Choosing to become a police nomad came upon her as she desired to leave her past life in the rearview mirror. A questionable relationship with her married senior officer, David Colquhoun, left her no choice but to make tracks in a different direction with her sixteen year old daughter, Zoe.That same desperation pits mother and daughter in quite the stand-off as each tries to find a new identity and a new existence. Zoe takes to the shore with her love of birdwatching. So much time as a solo figure out in the wind and the rain. Alex faces long hours committed to a profession that doesn't leave her much time to heal old wounds and bandage new ones.When the body of an older woman is found in the ditch water off Salt Lane, Alex is called to the crime scene. It's not too far from the cabin that Alex shares with Zoe. There is uncertainty of the identity of the female who appears to have been homeless. Even though the identity has been ID'd by a local dentist, Alex is not too sure. Soon another body is found in a tank on Horse Bones Farm. He appears to be an immigrant with no chance of ID. Are these bodies connected in any way?William Shaw tells a tale like no other. I discovered his stellar writing in The Birdwatcher which is one of my favorites of 2017. It is in The Birdwatcher that we first come across Alex and Zoe. (Salt Lane reads as a complete standalone.) Shaw takes us on a journey of the frailty of human nature and the deeply buried secrets we hover over within our lifetimes. He brings in the timetable of the past awash with the current challenges of today's world. There's an emphasis that nothing exists in pure black and white or solid cut and dry anymore. The world has changed drastically and the puzzle pieces take on the curves and edges of a different hue. A new mindset for a new world.Salt Lane is wonderfully written with characters that reflect humanity for the good, the bad, and the indifferent. Crime has existed since Cain and Abel. It's never going away any time soon. It is my hope that you also give yourself the opportunity to pick up The Birdwatcher. Both are literary treasures for sure.I received a copy of Salt Lane through NetGalley for an honest review. My thanks to Mulholland Books (Quercus) and to the talented William Shaw for the opportunity.
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  • Sandy
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 starsOne of my favourite books of last year was The Birdwatcher. The MC was William South, a cop with a dodgy past who runs up against a new colleague named DS Alexandra Cupidi. In this outing she takes over the lead as a member of the Serious Crime team with Kent police.Alexandra arrived in the area as a transfer from the Met. After an affair with a colleague in London was discovered, she packed up teenage daughter Zoë & moved to Dungeness. It hasn’t been an easy transition for either o 3.5 starsOne of my favourite books of last year was The Birdwatcher. The MC was William South, a cop with a dodgy past who runs up against a new colleague named DS Alexandra Cupidi. In this outing she takes over the lead as a member of the Serious Crime team with Kent police.Alexandra arrived in the area as a transfer from the Met. After an affair with a colleague in London was discovered, she packed up teenage daughter Zoë & moved to Dungeness. It hasn’t been an easy transition for either one of them. I won’t go into the plot too much, the book blurb gives a good recap. Initially there are 2 puzzling cases on Alexandra’s plate: a dead woman who seems to be in 2 places at the same time & the body of a migrant found in a farm slurry. There are multiple twists to each tale that keep you guessing & Alex seems to have a talent for getting into sticky situations.I must confess it took me along time to warm up to the MC. Understandably, she feels like a fish out of water in her new home & her involvement with the William South case didn’t exactly endear her to colleagues. Their relationships aren’t helped by her prickly personality but she does form an odd bond with Constable Jill Ferrier, her polar opposite. Her work ethic results in her being a largely absent parent & as Zoë becomes increasingly isolated & withdrawn, there were times I wanted to reach through the pages & give Alexandra a good shake. I was also a little confused about the sudden appearance of a former colleague from the Met. His short inclusion didn’t really add anything to the story & it slowed the pace around the much more intriguing murder investigations.It’s also a story about fitting in. Doesn’t matter if you’re an African migrant or cop from London. You’re clearly from away & don’t know the people, their past & customs. You have to learn the rhythm of local life which can be as difficult as navigating the fens.So while I initially found it hard to connect with Alexandra as I did with William South, she started to grow on me. Life in the fens weaves its spell & she goes from feeling like an outsider to thinking maybe, just maybe, she’s found a place she & Zoë belong. The author has a writing style that is eminently readable. That plus the intricate plot will keep you turning the pages to see how it all shakes out.
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  • Brenda
    January 1, 1970
    The protagonist in this book is DS Alexandra Cupidi, who was a prickly, though secondary, character in The Birdwatcher. In that book, she was newly assigned to the Kent police. In Salt Lane, she and her daughter Zoë have now lived in the Dungeness area for a year. William Shaw's description of the area had me Googling for pictures. It is a flat, bleak, desolate area, and I found it fascinating. Cupidi was not taking motherhood as seriously as she should, frequently working long hours, and leavin The protagonist in this book is DS Alexandra Cupidi, who was a prickly, though secondary, character in The Birdwatcher. In that book, she was newly assigned to the Kent police. In Salt Lane, she and her daughter Zoë have now lived in the Dungeness area for a year. William Shaw's description of the area had me Googling for pictures. It is a flat, bleak, desolate area, and I found it fascinating. Cupidi was not taking motherhood as seriously as she should, frequently working long hours, and leaving Zoë to fend for herself. I thought it was no wonder Zoë was feeling sad and alone and seeking solace in birds and nature. After Cupidi invited her mother to come stay with them, the history of this family was slowly revealed. Shaw did a wonderful job portraying the relationships between the three generations.Cupidi often speaks and acts without thinking, which gets her into awkward situations. She’s a dedicated cop, and her boss is happy to have her on the team. Cupidi's partner, Constable Jill Ferriter, is eager and friendly which counters Cupidi perfectly. There was some understated humor between the two which made them more interesting.Both of the cases that were being investigated were interesting, and I never favored one over the other. One murder required digging into a woman's past. The other was contemporary involving the death of a migrant worker. Both were intricately plotted and held some surprises. Shaw's writing style makes for easy reading, and I hated to put the book down.Cupidi is a really interesting character, but I’d like her to be a more engaged mother. I hope it’s not too late. I think she learned some lessons about family and friendship in this book. I’m curious to see what Shaw has in store for her, both personally and professionally, in future books.I thank Little, Brown and Company for offering this complimentary book to me.
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  • Truman32
    January 1, 1970
    The best mystery novels stay with you in a melancholy haze long after you close the cover for the last time. Why is this? The mystery is solved and the criminals are usually dealt with. It may be because the best mysteries, the ones that really matter, shine a light on the dark circumstances and desperations that cause folks to hurt one another. Conditions so harsh that their only choice is to break the law… even kill. These stories illuminate the ills of society brighter than the glare of a det The best mystery novels stay with you in a melancholy haze long after you close the cover for the last time. Why is this? The mystery is solved and the criminals are usually dealt with. It may be because the best mysteries, the ones that really matter, shine a light on the dark circumstances and desperations that cause folks to hurt one another. Conditions so harsh that their only choice is to break the law… even kill. These stories illuminate the ills of society brighter than the glare of a detective’s flashlight as they investigate the halls of a spooky Dartmoor estate. They enlarge the inequalities and hardships of certain lives clearer than a clue caught in Sherlock Holmes’s magnifying glass. They scream for the reader’s attention louder than the howls of a perp being roughly interrogated by a cop with a telephone book in the back of a dark alley.William Shaw’s excellent new mystery, Salt Lane is just such a book. Days, weeks, months and even decades after you finish this beauty the story will follow you around like a needy beagle pup just adopted from the shelter. It will remain with you like that super large bowl of spicy tom yum goong soup you had for lunch that is causing the enzymes and bicarbonate in your small intestines to form a breakdancing crew specializing in wild air flares, erratic head spins, and turbulent windmills. It will permeate your very existence like the offensive spray spritzed from the anus of an angry skunk onto that aforementioned puppy that was just trying to make a new friend. And it will endure, not unlike that full back tattoo of metal band Iron Maiden’s skeleton-monster mascot, Eddie you got back in the early ‘90’s because you thought it made you look “edgy”.Detective Sgt. Alexandra Cupidi, from Shaw’s previous book (the likewise stellar The Birdwatcher) is still living on the coastal wetlands of Kent. Cupidi clashes with her teenage daughter, she is estranged from her mother, and she struggles to connect with her new partner, the exasperatingly chipper Constable Jill Ferriter. Her life is a complicated jumble of personal fires and she seems to never have enough flame squelching chemicals in her personal extinguisher to put them out for more than a quick moment. But at work she shines. And that’s a good thing as the nearly naked body of a dead woman is fished out of a drainage ditch. Soon another body is found in a local farmstead’s manure pit. The story weaves in immigrant workers, a tragic fire from the past, and bygone regrets into a touching story that would make even the frozen face of a highly botoxed supermodel quiver and contort with emotion. This is a good one folks. Shaw’s procedural will keep mystery lovers guessing whodunit. It will make lovers of fine writing seize and convulse in pleasure with such orgasmic aplomb that many parents will feel forced to call the police just to protect the innocence of their lovely children. And it will make librarians give anyone checking it out the ol’ stink-eye because they know with a book this good it is not going to be returned on time. Salt Lane is highly recommended!
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  • Susan
    January 1, 1970
    Having really enjoyed, “The Birdwatcher,” I was delighted to see D S Alexander Cupidi come centre stage in the first of a new series. Cupidi left London for Kent, after having an affair with a married colleague, and relocated with her daughter, Zoe. Zoe is a troubled teenager, who has taken to birdwatching, after tagging along with William South, in the prequel novel. Unhappy at school, she spends her time on the Kent marshes and seems to have no friends of her own age. Alex is aware of her isol Having really enjoyed, “The Birdwatcher,” I was delighted to see D S Alexander Cupidi come centre stage in the first of a new series. Cupidi left London for Kent, after having an affair with a married colleague, and relocated with her daughter, Zoe. Zoe is a troubled teenager, who has taken to birdwatching, after tagging along with William South, in the prequel novel. Unhappy at school, she spends her time on the Kent marshes and seems to have no friends of her own age. Alex is aware of her isolation, unhappiness and the fact that she is not spending enough time with her daughter, but she is also very career driven and apt to get caught up in the cases she is working on. In this novel, we get to know a little more about her, as we learn more about the affair which caused her to leave London and of the difficult relationship she has with her own mother.In this book, Cupidi is dealing with two cases. One, the body of a woman found in Salt Lane, whose identity is not as clear cut as it first appears. Secondly, the body of a migrant worker, whose battered body is also discovered in the Kent countryside. For many of us, crime appears to be a city problem, but William Shaw has intelligently unearthed some of the problems faced by more rural areas; including the use of illegal immigrants in seasonal work and the secrecy among migrant workers, living undercover. Working alongside Cupidi is the young, enthusiastic Constable Ferriter. She is full of ideas, and courage, but is also quite vulnerable and touched by the people she comes into contact with. Indeed, vulnerability is the theme of this crime novel, which is more literary, than fast paced. William Shaw always writes strong characters, as well as involved, intricate plots, and he deftly weaves a world where you see that the police are very much involved with, and touched by, the most vulnerable members of society. Indeed, for some of the characters of this book, they are outside society – marginalised by everything from immigration papers to lifestyle choices. I have enjoyed William Shaw’s novels since his very first, Breen and Tozer book. Although I do really love that series, I also really loved this clever, contemporary crime novel. Unlike, “The Birdwatcher,” which also had a historical aspect, being partly set in Northern Ireland, during the Troubles, this is very much a modern crime novel, with relevant, contemporary issues. I look forward to reading anything else that William Shaw writes – he is one of my very favourite crime writers and never disappoints.
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  • Liz Barnsley
    January 1, 1970
    Wonderful. Great writing, great location, great protagonist, brilliant characters and a socially relevant and emotionally resonant plot. All the ticks in all the boxes. Loved it.Full review to follow nearer publication.
  • Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede
    January 1, 1970
    SALT LANE is the first book in the Alexandra Cupidi series. However, Alexandra first showed up in the book THE BIRDWATCHER, which I haven't read (yet). I read a lot of crime novels and I was curious to see if this one would be to my taste. I'm glad to say that I liked this book and I'm looking forward to the next book in the series.READ THE REST OF THE REVIEW OVER AT FRESH FICTION!
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  • Fictionophile
    January 1, 1970
    I loved this author's "The Birdwatcher" so much that I just had to read this title which features Detective Sergeant Cupidi of the Serious Crimes Directorate in Kent.Alexandra Cupidi has moved to Kent from London where she worked for the Metropolitan Police. After a dead-end affair with a married colleague, she 'up-sticks' with her teenage daughter and moved to Dungeness. She is a workaholic and devoted to her job. As a result her teenage daughter Zoë is often left to her own devices.  Zoë harbo I loved this author's "The Birdwatcher" so much that I just had to read this title which features Detective Sergeant Cupidi of the Serious Crimes Directorate in Kent.Alexandra Cupidi has moved to Kent from London where she worked for the Metropolitan Police. After a dead-end affair with a married colleague, she 'up-sticks' with her teenage daughter and moved to Dungeness. She is a workaholic and devoted to her job. As a result her teenage daughter Zoë is often left to her own devices.  Zoë harbours a lot of anger at her mother for taking her out of South London and away from all of her friends. Much to everyone's surprise Zoë has taken an eager interest in birdwatching, after being introduced to the pursuit by the protagonist of "The Birdwatcher".  As a result, the local 'birders' often double as child-minders for DS Cupidi."The sheer scale of nature here was awesome; disturbing."Things are busy in the Kent Police. They are short-staffed and now there has been two gruesome murders which took place about five miles apart from each other. Are they linked? But how?A middle-aged woman is found in a drain culvert. She was dead before being put in the culvert but the pathologists cannot determine what killed her. Cupidi and her team discover where the woman was living, in a caravan behind a house in a nearby town. They discover a photograph of another caravan with two small boys in front...A man's body is discovered immersed in a farmer's slurry pit. There is evidence that he was in hiding and the police presume he was an illegal immigrant.What could possibly connect these two murders?And... the dead woman was not who she claimed to be. How could two women share the same identity? The past holds all the secrets.Impulsive and driven, Alex Cupidi puts herself in mortal danger to determine the truth.MY THOUGHTSTouted as the first novel in the D.S. Alex Cupidi series, I can only say that I will be eager to read every one of the future novels. Although technically a police procedural, this title was more about the crimes and the protagonists than police procedure per se.  Although Alex Cupidi was introduced in the novel "The Birdwatcher", it is not at all necessary to read that one first - though I personally enjoyed this book's veiled references to the earlier book. I truly hope that William South, the protagonist of "The Birdwatcher" might make a future appearance in one of the Cupidi novels.I relished the references to Cupidi's personal life. Her relationship with her daughter and her mother especially, but also her growing rapport with her female constable, Jill Ferriter, and her superior, DI McAdam."the world was full of desperation"The crime was well researched and was very relevant to current social problems. The prevalence of 'gangmasters', illegal immigrants and illegal workers is one which is mentioned every day on the news. The author has shed some light on the issue, causing the reader to feel more of a connection to those directly affected. The author reveals humanity in all its guises, the good, the bad, and the ugly.The writing was superb and the plot moved along at a quick pace. The setting was atmospheric. The resolution was believable and realistic. Well done William Shaw! Highly recommended!I purchased this novel in Kindle format. It is published by Quercus.To read more of my reviews, visit: https://fictionophile.wordpress.com/
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  • Pat
    January 1, 1970
    4 starsSalt Lane is book #1 in the DS Alexandra Cupidi series. “The Birdwatcher” introduced DS Cupidi but she was not the main character and the book is considered to be a prequel for this new series, so if a reader wanted to start with this book, by all means go ahead. DS Alexandra Cupidi is currently with the Kent police force after leaving the London police. She needed a break from a disastrous relationship in London so her and her daughter, Zoe have moved into a small cottage on a rocky beac 4 starsSalt Lane is book #1 in the DS Alexandra Cupidi series. “The Birdwatcher” introduced DS Cupidi but she was not the main character and the book is considered to be a prequel for this new series, so if a reader wanted to start with this book, by all means go ahead. DS Alexandra Cupidi is currently with the Kent police force after leaving the London police. She needed a break from a disastrous relationship in London so her and her daughter, Zoe have moved into a small cottage on a rocky beach in Dungeness. As any mother of a teenager, DS Cupidi is always worried about having Zoe on her own during the summers. A case develops involving the discovery of an older woman’s body in a drainage ditch after some heavy rains and flooding. The woman has no identification and is believed to be a homeless/rough sleeper. Soon, another body is discovered on farm land near the drainage ditch and again there is not identification of the man. He is a younger black male believed to be an immigrant working for the farms and therefore should have papers. DS Cupidi and her partner DC Ferriter are out to investigate who this man was and where did he come from? And, with the cases located so close together, is there a link? DS Cupidi and DC Ferriter will find it near impossible to investigate immigrants who want to avoid the police and immigration at all costs. Very well written book and I found it to be quite timely. This takes place in England but can be said to be relevant in multiple countries that have taken an influx of immigrants. Migrant workers are needed in countries to work however, not everyone working is a legal migrant worker. Many employers who cannot hire residents or legal workers will turn a blind eye and hire the migrants. Since everyone involved wants to keep this quiet, many abuses can take place. Author William Shaw has done an excellent job of highlighting this plight. Highly recommend.Thank you to Little, Brown and Company publishing and Ira for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Richard
    January 1, 1970
    A accomplished author who has created a new police series set around Dungeness. In DS Cupidi he has created a wonderful detective instinctive and headstrong. Often guilty of saying too much too quickly and speaking her mind without thinking.Her move out from London is due to her relationship with another police officer and she is conscious of this history, mistakes made delaying her career and the pressure this has brought on her daughter.The themes that link this novel are many and complex. On A accomplished author who has created a new police series set around Dungeness. In DS Cupidi he has created a wonderful detective instinctive and headstrong. Often guilty of saying too much too quickly and speaking her mind without thinking.Her move out from London is due to her relationship with another police officer and she is conscious of this history, mistakes made delaying her career and the pressure this has brought on her daughter.The themes that link this novel are many and complex. On the face of it these include relationships, mainly as a Mother; Alex Cupidi with her daughter Zoe and Helen her own Mother.In addition forgotten hidden societies whether New Age travellers, homeless and modern day issues with migrant workers and failed asylum seekers.Finally the role of the police is looked at indirectly in how they can exasperate situations and turn issues into criminal activities and serious incidents.Perhaps not learning from her default position of working on instincts and feeling safer than in the demanding streets of London. Maybe it is just her approach to policing but on a number of occasions Alex’s drive and pursuit of criminals leave her vulnerable. But perhaps she thinks a heavy response cannot be made silently and people can scatter and evidence lost.Shaw examines this very well without coming down on one side or critiquing his protagonist. A thrilling climax makes use of this but allows for a brilliant ending and room to question the realities of immigration not as exploitation but in human terms.I love this author’s writing, his humility and creativity. I hope with this novel his popularity will increase and his head will swell slightly to see and receive the acclaim he richly deserves.A pleasure to read and review. Out May 3rd - Happy Publication day!
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  • Roman Clodia
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 starsAfter a slightly slow start, this picks up and develops into an engrossing plot - before slowing down again into a melodramatic finish with a left-field and unconvincing 'villain'. At 450 pages, the story stalls in places and could have been tightened up by losing 50-100 pages of padding.DS Alex Cupidi (is that a real name?), first introduced in The Birdwatcher, now takes centre stage and, personally I could have done without the soap-opera elements of her vexed relationships with teena 3.5 starsAfter a slightly slow start, this picks up and develops into an engrossing plot - before slowing down again into a melodramatic finish with a left-field and unconvincing 'villain'. At 450 pages, the story stalls in places and could have been tightened up by losing 50-100 pages of padding.DS Alex Cupidi (is that a real name?), first introduced in The Birdwatcher, now takes centre stage and, personally I could have done without the soap-opera elements of her vexed relationships with teenage daughter and mother, plus the insertion of a former married lover. More realistic and interesting is the development of her relationship with her subordinate/partner. The police procedural elements of the story are handled well, along with the internal politics of policing.The plot of illegal migrants and asylum seekers has become the go-to for any commercial crime writer wanting to flag their social commentary skills, and such is the case here. It's handled fairly but predictably. And I guess that's my overall verdict: this hovers somewhere above the trashy end of the crime genre and below the more literary end. I liked it, didn't love it, and there's a kind of lack of personality and competent blandness that prevents it standing out in a very crowded marketplace: 3.5 stars for being readable but forgettable.
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  • Christine
    January 1, 1970
    I loved The Birdwatcher, which introduced Alexandra Cupidi. I absolutely applaud William Shaw, for giving her a series. Salt Lane can definitely be read as a standalone. I do recommend reading The Birdwatcher, which is a strong prequel. It really sets the scene and tone.In The Birdwatcher, we met Alex Cupidi, a delightful straight talking woman. She had left London and moved to rural Kent. This was all because of a relationship with a married colleague. Alex has a teenage daughter, Zoe, who disc I loved The Birdwatcher, which introduced Alexandra Cupidi. I absolutely applaud William Shaw, for giving her a series. Salt Lane can definitely be read as a standalone. I do recommend reading The Birdwatcher, which is a strong prequel. It really sets the scene and tone.In The Birdwatcher, we met Alex Cupidi, a delightful straight talking woman. She had left London and moved to rural Kent. This was all because of a relationship with a married colleague. Alex has a teenage daughter, Zoe, who discovered the delights of birdwatching. Salt Lane adds flesh to the bones of this; as we see Alex with her mother and the man, she had an illicit affair with. She gets two gritty cases to get her teeth into. Plus she gets a courageous sidekick, in the form of Ferriter. Cupidi is seeking the killer of a migrant worker on a farm, in appalling circumstances. She is also investigating the death of a woman found in the water at Salt Lane.Shaw has much to say on immigration and the hidden world of illegal workers. We are soon drawn into the murky world, of people who have been refused leave to remain in the UK and are living in the shadows. It is very clear that our economy is reliant on low paid agricultural workers, who are prepared to work picking and packing fruit and vegetables. We need them.Salt Lane was excellent. We get a quirky central lead in Cupidi and an intelligent storyline, well told. This is the kind of book that makes you want to beg for more, from the author.Recommended.
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  • Jessica Woodbury
    January 1, 1970
    I am very angry at this book for somehow sneaking under the radar. I was a big fan of Shaw's last book, THE BIRDWATCHER, and this follow up (which appears to be the start of a new series) is a worthy successor, I'm just mad it took me so long to find out about it. (wyd Mulholland Books??? we just want to love you???)I love a procedural. I also nitpick procedurals to death and can rarely find ones that measure up to my standards. While SALT LANE follows a pretty traditional formula (procedural th I am very angry at this book for somehow sneaking under the radar. I was a big fan of Shaw's last book, THE BIRDWATCHER, and this follow up (which appears to be the start of a new series) is a worthy successor, I'm just mad it took me so long to find out about it. (wyd Mulholland Books??? we just want to love you???)I love a procedural. I also nitpick procedurals to death and can rarely find ones that measure up to my standards. While SALT LANE follows a pretty traditional formula (procedural that ends up intertwining with the detective's personal life, subplot of detective's conflict with co-workers and department, slow building feeling that a set of crimes are all connected, detective putting themselves in peril due to their stubborn devotion to their case, ripped from the headlines current events as central theme, etc etc) and even though I felt it hitting these familiar beats, I also felt it pushing back against them. In the midst of the policing and detecting and violence, Alex goes to a book club and eats dinner with her daughter and teases her partner about the guy who likes her and brings a grounded center to the story that makes it much easier to keep your balance when the wheels start turning faster and faster. (Sorry, that's like 3 mixed metaphors.) Alex feels like a real person, which is crucial. But more than that, the policing stuff felt pretty real, too. Often the detective who insists a set of crimes must be connected based solely on a hunch is a huge eye roll from me. But here, Alex has more than a hunch and following her as she tries to find the connecting threads between two crimes feels like real detecting and not just filler until a great epiphany. Alex finds real things, bit by bit, and just like her, you as the reader see that there's something there but it isn't clear what. It's rare that I actually agree with a detective's evaluation of the case, but here I was right with her. When Alex needs to ask her mother about something for a major plot point, it doesn't feel ridiculously coincidental, it feels natural, like the rest of the book. And, even better, when it all does come together it feels earned. And it feels like you should have put it all together ages ago. Surprise and inevitability mixed together make the best kinds of endings. I do have a few nits to pick, but they mostly came after I'd finished the book and not while I was racing through it. The migrant worker subplot mostly worked for me, though it created a few moments where I was nervous it would really screw it up. And while it opens up this secret world, it only takes the smallest peek at it instead of really diving in. Is this what would really happen? Most likely. Cupidi is a realist and so is this book.Solid, quick read, looking forward to the series.
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  • Thebooktrail
    January 1, 1970
    Visit the locations in the novel hereA very fine read. Social commentary mixed with the evocation of a landscape which seeps into the story so that it becomes the story. Great characters too with backstories I can' wait to find out more about. There's something very eerie and ethereal about the marshes and this book brings them out and shines a light on them. An immersive way of writing and keen observations complete with killer dialogue makes this a real reading treat.The land is inhospitable Visit the locations in the novel hereA very fine read. Social commentary mixed with the evocation of a landscape which seeps into the story so that it becomes the story. Great characters too with backstories I can' wait to find out more about. There's something very eerie and ethereal about the marshes and this book brings them out and shines a light on them. An immersive way of writing and keen observations complete with killer dialogue makes this a real reading treat.The land is inhospitable in places and this is reflected on the poor illegal immigrants forced to work for peanuts in back breacking work on farms and marshland. The story built slowly but each piece fell into place and created a jigsaw of emotions. Romney Marsh holds many secrets it would seem and the story revealed them one by one.This novel really shone for me as it weaves social commentary, great writing and unique observation of landscape into one neatly tied package. It’s grim in parts but there’s a raw quality in its brutal honesty and I found myself slowing down to appreciate it even more.A great first in a series. I’m definitely on board for book two although I will have to stop thinking that the main character is called Cupid.Next book now Mr Shaw please!
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  • Kathy
    January 1, 1970
    This is best appreciated after reading the first Cupidi book, The Birdwatcher. There are people being killed in the Kentish countryside, showing up in drainage ditches and farm waste disposal (slurry) pits. Plenty of work for Kent PD. Cupidi and her daughter Zoe have moved into a house in Dungeness. "In the light of a summer evening, there was something lunar about Dungeness. It lay on the tip of a vast flat stony landscape that jutted into the Straits of Dover; banks of shingle built over centu This is best appreciated after reading the first Cupidi book, The Birdwatcher. There are people being killed in the Kentish countryside, showing up in drainage ditches and farm waste disposal (slurry) pits. Plenty of work for Kent PD. Cupidi and her daughter Zoe have moved into a house in Dungeness. "In the light of a summer evening, there was something lunar about Dungeness. It lay on the tip of a vast flat stony landscape that jutted into the Straits of Dover; banks of shingle built over centuries by the churn of tides."After the first body appeared in a drainage ditch Cupidi made a media appeal to identify the victim. "Any murder was disturbing, but this one had spooked Cupidi. No one knew who the dead woman was, nobody had missed her, or come forward to weep over her." Complicating this investigation is a perverse identity theft of heroine addict/long-lost mother.A clue after the second body appeared, discovering it was a farm worker who had a Koran, leads the investigation to focus on illegal migrant workers. Considerable effort is exerted toward communicating with some of these vulnerable workers who have little English.There is a bit too much in this book to review succinctly, so I will just list a few I cared about.Zoe continues her birdwatching that she enjoyed with William and still does not like her new home.Cupidi mends fences with her mother and succeeds in getting her to come out from London to help with Zoe.Cupidi is caretaker of William's house while he is gone and allows it to be put to use now and then as temporary shelter.Cupidi does not execute her investigations with caution - Resulting in one man she tries to interview burning his house down, her own peril in a barn where she is locked in to be killed when not reporting where she was...Just to name two instances, but there were several unwise moves.3.5 stars for me on this one - and the book is big and heavy! Not perfect, but I guess I care about her daughter's fate.
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  • Elaine Tomasso
    January 1, 1970
    I would like to thank Netgalley and Quercus Books for an advance copy of Salt Lane, the first novel to feature DS Alex Cupidi of Kent police.Alex has recently transferred from the Met to Dungeness and is still feeling her way when she is called out to a dead body found in a ditch in Salt Lane. They are still trying to identify the woman and her cause of death when another body is found in the slurry pit of a local farm. This one they believe to be an illegal immigrant and in the course of trying I would like to thank Netgalley and Quercus Books for an advance copy of Salt Lane, the first novel to feature DS Alex Cupidi of Kent police.Alex has recently transferred from the Met to Dungeness and is still feeling her way when she is called out to a dead body found in a ditch in Salt Lane. They are still trying to identify the woman and her cause of death when another body is found in the slurry pit of a local farm. This one they believe to be an illegal immigrant and in the course of trying to identify him they uncover a hidden underbelly to the rural Kent countryside.I thoroughly enjoyed Salt Lane which, apart from being an exciting, absorbing read, is very informative on the plight of illegal immigrants and the sharp practice surrounding them. The novel is told from Alex's point of view so the reader knows only what she discovers (a lot). This makes for a great read as the reader tries to work out what is going on and beat her to the punch! I guessed some of it in advance of her but there are a few twists, especially, unconventionally, at the beginning, which threw me off completely. Nevertheless the novel held my attention from start to finish and I read it in one sitting as it is well paced with both reveals and action appearing steadily to maintain the flow.Alex Cupidi is an interesting character. She is brusque, to the point of rudeness sometimes, and doesn't do small talk and yet her brutal honesty makes people talk to her and trust her although this doesn't seem to extend to her mother and daughter with both of whom she has troubled relationships. I found myself liking her from the start.Salt Lane is a good read which I have no hesitation in recommending.
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  • James
    January 1, 1970
    This is the second novel of William Shaw’s that I’ve read and while it’s the start of a new series, it follows on somewhat from the previous novel of his that I read, The Birdwatcher. In that novel DS Alexander Cupidi was a secondary character, but here she steps centre stage. When the body of a woman is found in a body of water in the titular marshland of Salt Lane, the Kent police are somewhat stumped. She doesn’t appear to have drowned and nor does the body have any obvious injuries that migh This is the second novel of William Shaw’s that I’ve read and while it’s the start of a new series, it follows on somewhat from the previous novel of his that I read, The Birdwatcher. In that novel DS Alexander Cupidi was a secondary character, but here she steps centre stage. When the body of a woman is found in a body of water in the titular marshland of Salt Lane, the Kent police are somewhat stumped. She doesn’t appear to have drowned and nor does the body have any obvious injuries that might account for her death. When a second body, that of an illegal immigrant is found in a cesspit, they are at first unsure whether the cases are linked. Cupidi and her team investigate and are soon drawn into the twilight world of illegal immigration, gangmasters, and exploitation.Salt Lane is both a police procedural and a slice of social commentary. The procedural element works well, the author avoiding the mistake of some writers who have their protagonist do all the work and solve the crime alone. Murder investigations, in the UK at any rate, are team efforts and this is depicted well. While DS Cupidi has a touch of that well-trodden trope – the maverick who finds it hard to play by the rules – this isn’t overly done. Rather she’s a believable character, likeable and committed. The police procedure element of the novel is also handled adeptly; it didn’t surprise me to learn when reading the acknowledgments at the back that the author consulted Graham Bartlett in the course of researching the novel, Bartlett being a former police officer in Brighton who has long advised the author Peter James. This then made it all the more galling when in the narrative a female officer is referred to as a WPC. The use of the term WPC (Woman Police Constable) is archaic and has long been consigned to the dustbin. All officers are now just PCs (unless they’re in the detective branch of course, when the P is swapped for a D for detective). While this only occurs twice and on the same page, the use of such an antiquated term, especially when the novel has been so thoroughly researched, did stick in my craw somewhat.As mentioned, Salt Lane has a strong element of social commentary. Once again, the author has researched this thoroughly, as I can attest to from my career researching current affairs documentaries for Channel 4. Many a film I worked on looked at immigration and the twilight world of illegal immigrants who prop up the economy, often doing the hard, hazardous and underpaid work that other workers balk at. Salt Lane depicts this world powerfully. Whole swathes of the UK’s agricultural sector operate on the sweat of these workers and it is doubtful we would enjoy the cheap food that stocks our supermarket shelves without them.Salt Lane is an excellent start to a new series. This is a long novel, running at 464 pages, which allows Shaw to weave through various sub-plots and flesh out Cupidi’s complicated family life, which I’m sure will develop further in future outings. While I enjoyed the novel, I have to confess to be a little jaded by police procedurals and preferring something a little more to the noir end of crime fiction. That said, this is an enjoyable novel and I will certainly read the next volume in the series when it hits the bookshelves.
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  • Maine Colonial
    January 1, 1970
    William Shaw is the author of the excellent Breen and Tozer series 2017’s The Birdwatcher. Although Salt Lane is called #1 in the Alexandra Cupidi series, in a sense it’s #2, because Cupidi is a featured character in The Birdwatcher.One of the cases in Salt Lane is the death of an identified woman. This turns into quite a mystery, as it appears that the victim and a homeless person who turns up in London share a name, and one may be impersonating the other. The other case is the murder of an uni William Shaw is the author of the excellent Breen and Tozer series 2017’s The Birdwatcher. Although Salt Lane is called #1 in the Alexandra Cupidi series, in a sense it’s #2, because Cupidi is a featured character in The Birdwatcher.One of the cases in Salt Lane is the death of an identified woman. This turns into quite a mystery, as it appears that the victim and a homeless person who turns up in London share a name, and one may be impersonating the other. The other case is the murder of an unidentified man, who appears to be an undocumented immigrant. Trying to find out that victim’s identity leads Cupidi and her new DC, the young and outspoken Jill Ferriter, into the world of asylum seekers and undocumented migrants, who live in a shadow world of illegal labor and exploitation.DS Cupidi is a London transplant to the coastal town of Dungeness in Kent. She left London because she wanted to break off a relationship with a married colleague. She brought along her teenage daughter, Zoë, who is a troubled young woman. In this book, we also learn more about Cupidi’s personal life. Her mother, a retired police officer, comes to Dungeness (reluctantly), and we learn why the relationship between Cupidi and her mother has always been problematic. Cupidi’s past affair also rears its ugly head. In fact, it’s almost nothing but trouble for Cupidi, who is a talented detective, but not so great at personal relationships.This new character, Jill Ferriter, brings some welcome lightness to the story. She’s like a puppy, she just keeps bouncing back with questions and remarks, no matter how much Cupidi may try to keep her quiet and under control. Jill’s character also shows how someone can have an attitude toward immigrants that is changed when she meets then and learns their stories and current circumstances.Like all of William Shaw’s books, this is a well-written and plotted police procedural that makes us care about its characters without becoming too domestic. His descriptions of the wild and often lonely Dungeness is vivid, too.
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  • Mandy
    January 1, 1970
    4.5* Really enjoyed Salt Lane, great writing, interesting characters, a topical murder mystery, a real sense of place in the Kent marshes and coastline depicting a bleak landscape and I love the inclusion, still, of the bird watching element on the nature reserve. I will definitely be reading the next in the series.
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  • Lainy
    January 1, 1970
    Time taken to read - 2 daysPages - 400Publisher - Quercus booksSource - Review copyBlurb from Goodreads A murdered migrant is the first big case for the embattled DS Alexandra Cupidi in a new series by the acclaimed author of The BirdwatcherNo-one knew their names, the bodies found in the water. There are people here, in plain sight, that no-one ever notices at all.DS Alexandra Cupidi has done it again. She should have learnt to keep her big mouth shut, after the scandal that sent her packing - Time taken to read - 2 daysPages - 400Publisher - Quercus booksSource - Review copyBlurb from Goodreads A murdered migrant is the first big case for the embattled DS Alexandra Cupidi in a new series by the acclaimed author of The BirdwatcherNo-one knew their names, the bodies found in the water. There are people here, in plain sight, that no-one ever notices at all.DS Alexandra Cupidi has done it again. She should have learnt to keep her big mouth shut, after the scandal that sent her packing - resentful teenager in tow - from the London Met to the lonely Kent coastline. Even murder looks different in this landscape of fens, ditches and stark beaches, shadowed by the towers of Dungeness power station. Murder looks a lot less pretty.The man drowned in the slurry pit had been herded there like an animal. He was North African, like many of the fruit pickers that work the fields. The more Cupidi discovers, the more she wants to ask - but these people are suspicious of questions.It will take an understanding of this strange place - its old ways and new crimes - to uncover the dark conspiracy behind the murder. Cupidi is not afraid to travel that road. But she should be. She should, by now, have learnt.Salt Lane is the first in the new DS Alexandra Cupidi series. With his trademark characterisation and flair for social commentary, William Shaw has crafted a crime novel for our time that grips you, mind and heart.My Review This is book two featuring DS Alexandra Cupidi although you can read this as a standalone, however I really enjoyed The Birdwatcher and you get insight into the characters. Whilst you can get away with starting here I would suggest reading The Birdwatcher, it is a great book and gives you more info on some of the characters. A migrant worker is found murdered, a son's mother appears from nowhere and almost as quickly disappears again. This is Cupidi's chance to prove herself, after having left in scandal her last post and bringing her daughter with her she has a lot to prove. To her team, her daughter and herself but as with life when you are dealing with one aspect of your life others creep in. Her affair haunts her, her strained relationship with her mother, something isn't right with her daughter and now bodies are turning up brutally murdered, she has a lot on her plate.I do enjoy how Shaw writes, you slide into the characters lives quickly and Cupidi has more going on than a soap opera. I really want more insight into her relationship issues with her mother, I need to know what is the chat with her daughter. I would love to hear again from a character who was in The Birdwatcher and whilst he doesn't appear in this book her colleagues are still reeling from what happened and it impacts on her relationships with them. I love that we have strong females characters that are human, have flaws but still manage to hold their own and aren't swooning at a man's feet which we see in abundance in many books these days.This is a great start to a new series (or book two depending on what way you look at it), I think the foundations are strong and look forward to the next. I need answers to my questions, I want to see how Cupidi and her daughter get on and where Cupidi's career takes her next. She is a bit of an impulsive character but she also has a heart which I think makes for a great character, someone readers can warm to. There is a lot of focus on the investigation so you don't get bored with the relationship side of the story if that isn't your thing. I think the book offers something for everyone, police procedure, family angst, murder and intrigue. 3.5 out of 5 for me this time, not only am I looking forward to the next (I hope there is another in the series) I am going to check out his other series!
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  • Raven
    January 1, 1970
    Having made the acquaintance of DS Alexandra Cupidi some time ago in The Birdwatcher , a wonderfully atmospheric thriller set against the backdrop of the bleak coastline of Dungeness, prepare to be completely absorbed as she makes her return in Salt Lane. Not only is this a well plotted and compelling police procedural, once again using this particular landscape to its full brooding and slightly sinister effect, but Salt Lane reveals itself to be so much more.When you cast your eye over the back Having made the acquaintance of DS Alexandra Cupidi some time ago in The Birdwatcher , a wonderfully atmospheric thriller set against the backdrop of the bleak coastline of Dungeness, prepare to be completely absorbed as she makes her return in Salt Lane. Not only is this a well plotted and compelling police procedural, once again using this particular landscape to its full brooding and slightly sinister effect, but Salt Lane reveals itself to be so much more.When you cast your eye over the backlist of William Shaw, comprising of his evocative 60s series, and the aforementioned The Birdwatcher, one cannot help but be struck by the skill of his storytelling, and the strength of his characterisation. As well as unfailingly producing absorbing, moving and carefully constructed police procedurals, Shaw also uses either the zeitgeist of the period, or the locations to envelop the reader completely in the atmosphere he seeks to produce. In Salt Lane the desolate, but rawly beautiful, locale of Dungeness once again reveals itself as a centrifugal force in the book, being either a place of safety or danger in equal measure, but also effectively acting as a prism for the emotional state of both Cupidi and her troubled teenage daughter, Zoe. As Zoe seeks to deal with her emotional pain and seeks solace from the landscape, also unwittingly leading herself into the heart of her mother’s investigation, Cupidi herself finds herself at times waging an emotional and physical battle with the unique geography of the area, and the murders that occur within its boundaries.Taking a backward step for a second, I can’t emphasise enough the weight of emotion, and more importantly the completely plausible emotion that Shaw injects into his trinity of female characters, Cupidi, Zoe and Cupidi’s mother Helen, who will be recognisable to some readers from Shaw’s previous books. I was absolutely blown away by how succinctly and honestly Shaw captured the internal and external emotional lives of these women, as they navigate their differences and similarities in the course of the book. The tension and moments of conflict are balanced beautifully with moments of epiphany in their personal relationship with each other, and the scenes featuring these three exceptional characters are a joy to read, feeling raw, true and suffused with realism. I must confess that I don’t read much ‘women’s fiction’ as that which I have encountered always has a slightly mawkish feel in its depiction of ‘women’s experience’, but I was held spellbound by the resonance of these characters in my interpretation of how women truly are, and how that which separates them, can be seen to actually bind them together more than they initially feel.As for the plot itself, Shaw is given free reign to expose the worst ills of a Britain caught in a monstrous wave of nationalism and post-Brexit turmoil. Against the Kent location of the book, Shaw weaves a disturbing police investigation into an unflinching and, most importantly, objective appraisal of immigration and exploitation, that boils the blood, and tugs at the heartstrings in equal measure, depending on your political viewpoint. Without resorting to soapbox declarations on the state of Britain, Shaw holds a mirror up to the conflicting sides of the immigration issue, whilst keeping the book solidly on track as a crime thriller. Consequently, Salt Lane is never less than a wonderfully multi-layered contemporary thriller, replete with the highest calibre characterisation, and a looming feel of unease. Highly recommended.
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  • Melody
    January 1, 1970
    (4.5 star)Salt Lane is the first book in the series featuring DS Alexandra Cupidi, although she has already made her appearance in William Shaw's earlier book, The Birdwatcher (which I'll make sure to get to that book in the near future). In this book, Cupidi is transferred from the London Met police after a scandal which sent her packing to a quiet coastline in Kent. Constable Jill Ferriter is assigned to work with her and their first case is a woman who was found floating in the marsh with her (4.5 star)Salt Lane is the first book in the series featuring DS Alexandra Cupidi, although she has already made her appearance in William Shaw's earlier book, The Birdwatcher (which I'll make sure to get to that book in the near future). In this book, Cupidi is transferred from the London Met police after a scandal which sent her packing to a quiet coastline in Kent. Constable Jill Ferriter is assigned to work with her and their first case is a woman who was found floating in the marsh with her death unknown. Further investigation has revealed her identity but that is only the info they've had. Her name was Hilary Keen. In another circumstances, a homeless woman knocked on a man's door, claiming she is his long lost mother but vanished before the morning arrives. Just the night before and about the same time the body of Hilary Keen was found. Could this homeless woman be her since the police found out later that they both shared the same name? As if things aren't complicated enough, they found another dead body buried in a slurry pit at a farm. An immigrant labourer who has no ID and top with language barrier from fellow workers, Cupidi finds their investigation at a dead end and the only connection she could link with the two cases is that the location of their bodies are miles apart within the marsh land. Salt Lane was a great story in many ways. Not only it was suspenseful and well executed, it was equally character-driven and a timely novel as well as it touches on the immigrants issue and the problems they face and how the society view and react as a whole. The relationship and banter between Cupidi and Ferriter was another interesting read and add some perspectives through their detective minds amid their differences, personality or professionalism-wise. A great, engaging first book of a series which I'll certainly follow.
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  • Joanne
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 stars. This book shines a very dark light on the world of transient refugees and illegal migrants in Britain. An anonymous woman is found dead in a rural drainage ditch, and the murder plunges the local police force into a complicated investigation that includes fake identities, clandestine farm workers and desperate humans who face unspeakable abuse every day.DS Alex Cupidi is right in the middle of the story, torn between her job and her difficult relationships with both her mother and her 3.5 stars. This book shines a very dark light on the world of transient refugees and illegal migrants in Britain. An anonymous woman is found dead in a rural drainage ditch, and the murder plunges the local police force into a complicated investigation that includes fake identities, clandestine farm workers and desperate humans who face unspeakable abuse every day.DS Alex Cupidi is right in the middle of the story, torn between her job and her difficult relationships with both her mother and her daughter. She's new to the police department where these crimes occur, and doesn't fit in yet, which complicates everything.I liked this book. The story was complex but clearly written and the characters felt very real. I'm already looking forward to reading other books by this author.
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  • Eleanor
    January 1, 1970
    Salt Lane is the newest novel from William Shaw, the beginning of a series featuring DI Alex Cupidi, who made an appearance in the book Shaw released last year, The Birdwatcher. Salt Lane too is set in rural Kent, that strange flat marshy part of England where the sea and the sky and the land flow into one another. This time, Shaw sets his sights on immigrant labour: the illegal fruit picking and farm work that goes on under the noses of police. Two murders in quick succession—a local woman who Salt Lane is the newest novel from William Shaw, the beginning of a series featuring DI Alex Cupidi, who made an appearance in the book Shaw released last year, The Birdwatcher. Salt Lane too is set in rural Kent, that strange flat marshy part of England where the sea and the sky and the land flow into one another. This time, Shaw sets his sights on immigrant labour: the illegal fruit picking and farm work that goes on under the noses of police. Two murders in quick succession—a local woman who has been living under an assumed name for twenty years, found in a ditch, and a migrant labourer who has been drowned in a farm’s slurry pit—assume sinister proportions when it turns out that they’re related. Cupidi must find who’s responsible while also developing her relationship with her teenage daughter Zoe, acting as a mentor to the insouciant and pretty DS Ferriter, and protecting her own reputation on a squad to which she is new, and which knows all about the scandal that drove her away from London.There is slightly too much going on in Salt Lane; some of the supporting characters confuse the arc of the investigation, rather than adding to it, as does the fact that the dead woman is connected to a cold case from 1995. (We learn about this in the prologue, a flashback which misleads us into thinking that the old crime is going to be more significant in the present-day storyline than it actually is.) I’m also not certain about Shaw’s portrayal of immigrant workers; he’s not offensive about them or about the hell in their countries of origin that drives them to the UK, but I wasn’t convinced that he’d ever spoken to a refugee. Najiba, a migrant worker who acts as a police informant, is fairly well-rounded, but the others seem like ciphers; Marina Lewycka’s Strawberry Fields is a more moving and humanising portrait of this world. As ever, though, Shaw’s grasp of pacing and procedure makes it hard to put Salt Lane down.
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  • Penny (Literary Hoarders)
    January 1, 1970
    An excellent start to this series. The weather finally broke and we had a glorious weekend where I was finally able to sit outside on the patio and read. And that is all I did this weekend - the bulk of this book was read yesterday all day outside. Excellent development this time around of Alexandra Cupidi's character, her work life and her home life. Not only is this an excellent start to a great mystery series that I look forward to continuing reading - it was a very political book as well. Sh An excellent start to this series. The weather finally broke and we had a glorious weekend where I was finally able to sit outside on the patio and read. And that is all I did this weekend - the bulk of this book was read yesterday all day outside. Excellent development this time around of Alexandra Cupidi's character, her work life and her home life. Not only is this an excellent start to a great mystery series that I look forward to continuing reading - it was a very political book as well. Shaw hits squarely on the nose the anti-migrant, anti-immigrant issues running through England (for this setting, but it could be applied all over) for the "England is English" sentiment. Shaw clearly, yet subtly but not preachy mind you, thumps that rhetoric solidly down into the ground. Shaw also took a great (but still subtle) shot at sexism in the workplace too. I want to expand on it so very much here, but I will hold back because I would be off on a tangent. Just know I appreciated how he deftly took on this insidious rhetoric and showed how ignorant and wrong it is but how it has wonderfully lined the pockets of the few while taking advantage of the many while creating fear and hate.I do think it is a good idea to read The Birdwatcher first so that you get the full story on why Cupidi has left London and moved to Kent, and for all the other background about her and other characters in this series.
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  • Thelastwordreview
    January 1, 1970
    Having really enjoyed The Birdwatcher that was released in May 2016 and now William Shaw returns with Salt Lane. DS Alexandra Cupidi after leaving the Met and heading to the Kent coastline she is confronted with a shocking murder. Life is different here and so is murder. Salt Lane is a terrifying and gripping crime novel. that I enjoyed even more than Shaw’s previous. This is the start of a new DS Cupidi series and already looking forward to further books in the series. For Cupidi she has had a Having really enjoyed The Birdwatcher that was released in May 2016 and now William Shaw returns with Salt Lane. DS Alexandra Cupidi after leaving the Met and heading to the Kent coastline she is confronted with a shocking murder. Life is different here and so is murder. Salt Lane is a terrifying and gripping crime novel. that I enjoyed even more than Shaw’s previous. This is the start of a new DS Cupidi series and already looking forward to further books in the series. For Cupidi she has had a lot to deal with that includes a shattered career with the Met and a troublesome teenager. Her daughter Zoe, seems isolated as they live in a much quieter part of the country. Cupidi knows only too well that her job takes up a lot of her time and she is concerned for Zoe, who seems to spend a lot of time walking the marshes as she has taken to birdwatching. DS Cupidi takes her work seriously and the hours are long. She knows only too well that the affair she got involved in cost her the position she worked so hard for at the Met. Now she is involved in two murders. A migrant worker has been found dead in a slurry pit, a shocking killing. But who was responsible for his death and she is also investigating the death of a young woman found in Salt Lane she is struggling to identify the young woman and what she was doing in Salt Lane. The murdered migrant worker is shocking. He is North African like many in the countryside and William Shaw brings into his novels a fair amount of social commentary and we also learn of the of the use of illegal workers at key times of the year. The illegal migrant workers fall off the radar and then trying to identify them is challenging. Human trafficking has been in the news a lot over recent years and their abuse is shocking. Working alongside Cupidi is the young and Jill Ferriter, she is keen to learn to more but comes across at times as a little venerable at time but is a good foil for Cupidi. Shaw writes an intricate crime novel with very strong characters and a deep storyline. Many subjects are touched throughout the book and we learn a lot about Cupidi and her relationship with her daughter Zoe. Salt Lane is a very powerful crime novel and if you have not yet discovered the writing of William Shaw then now is your time. Not to worry if you have not read The Birdwatcher as this can be read as a standalone novel. A cracking read. 464 Pages.My copy was provided by the publisher riverrun for review.
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  • Victoria Goldman
    January 1, 1970
    I raced through Salt Lane, from beginning to end. Yet again, as with The Birdwatcher, I was totally mesmerised by the quirky characters, chilling setting and emotional plot.Everything about this book, and William Shaw's stunning writing, is excellent. The dialogue, in particular, is so realistic that it brings each character to life and drives the plot forward at a cracking pace. The setting is stark and desolate, yet the descriptions of the coastline, marshes and fens are so vivid, providing a I raced through Salt Lane, from beginning to end. Yet again, as with The Birdwatcher, I was totally mesmerised by the quirky characters, chilling setting and emotional plot.Everything about this book, and William Shaw's stunning writing, is excellent. The dialogue, in particular, is so realistic that it brings each character to life and drives the plot forward at a cracking pace. The setting is stark and desolate, yet the descriptions of the coastline, marshes and fens are so vivid, providing a strong sense of place and an air of mystery.DS Alexandra Cupidi is investigating two deaths - one is a woman found floating in the water and the other is a migrant worker found floating in a slurry tank. A scandal back in London led Cupidi (and her teenage daughter, Zoe) to the bleak Kent coastline and she's still trying to fit in, remaining a little distant from her fellow police officers. But as the case continues, she's having to rely on them more and more - especially as she and her colleague Jill Ferriter put themselves into some very tricky (and potentially dangerous) situations.William Shaw covers some dark topics and contemporary issues with a splash of humour and plenty of sensitivity. This character-driven crime novel follows on from The Birdwatcher (which was a standalone), but this is the start of a new series. I don't think there's a need to read The Birdwatcher first (other than to gain some background into Cupidi and her daughter).I loved The Birdwatcher, but now love Salt Lane even more.
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  • J. Merwin
    January 1, 1970
    I am thrilled that Shaw has written another fabulous mystery set on the wild coast of England, (loved his first mystery set there) this very unique land/seascape (and its birders) is as much one of his a characters as the people he has created for us. What a fine mystery writer he is...I could not put his book down and even experienced that terror where you can't bear to read through but must just scan ahead to know what has happened! The only reason I did not give this latest book of his a 5 st I am thrilled that Shaw has written another fabulous mystery set on the wild coast of England, (loved his first mystery set there) this very unique land/seascape (and its birders) is as much one of his a characters as the people he has created for us. What a fine mystery writer he is...I could not put his book down and even experienced that terror where you can't bear to read through but must just scan ahead to know what has happened! The only reason I did not give this latest book of his a 5 star is I was disappointed in his editors/publishers! There were so many typos/grammatical boo boos and they always make me stop dead in my tracks. Once or twice a certain sentence didn't even make sense because of the mistake, ('had' seems to be a particular problem). The reader shouldn't be required to puzzle out what's being said. There was even a switch of character names in a crucial explanatory scene and that should NEVER happen, (pg. 366, bottom of page.) As an author who often has to defend herself against the tired old saw that 'real' publishers Ms. are always perfect and independent authors's work is sloppy...I think his team did him a dis-service.
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  • Pascale
    January 1, 1970
    Closer to a 3.5 - good but dragged on a bit. Who the killer turned out to be was pretty surprising to me - so that's something you don't always get! Got a little bit annoyed about the protagonist being referred to, throughout by her surname, seemed oddly formal and was a little bit confused the odd time her name was used.I'll probably, eventually checkout the next in the series at a later date.
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