The Birdwatcher by William Shaw
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.
I had, had this Ebook sat on my kindle for some time, when I decided to request Sympathy For The Devil from Netgally. So I decided to read this one first. I have to say the author is very talented at adapting his writing style to a different plot, setting and era. As both books are entirely different yet very well written.
The novel opens with Detective sergeant William South, who doesn’t actually want to work the murder he is seconded to. South is a what I call a grey man, he blends in and aside from the birdwatching there isn’t much that sticks out about him………….well that is until we become more acquainted with his past.
The author clever weaves each chapter to have two parts. The present with the adult policeman South attempting to solve the murder of his neighbour/friend Bob Rayner. Also South’s past and specifically an event that happened when he was 13 years old. I don’t want to expand too much on the past as I feel this will spoil the plot and also ruin it for readers. But it is one of great depth and complexity and really adds to the storytelling.
Bob Rayner is another grey man and fellow birdwatcher. He is found dead in his house at the coastguard cottages. I found this slightly creepy, as I live in the coastguard cottages! The local homeless community is suspected of involvement, but South doesn’t buy into it one bit, with too many mysteries and coincidences in the developing case. South is paired up with ex-MET copper Cupidi, their growing working relationship makes for interesting reading. Cupidi and her daughter Zoe attempt to bring South out of his shell. The murder of Bob is considered a ‘rage’ killing, but who? And why?
There are some brilliant secondary characters such as Judy the local roughian and dealer. Also the uptight and highly wound, councillor Sleight. This is a gem of a novel and I found the birdwatching or ‘birding’ as it’s known in the community, actually very interesting and unique as a theme within the book. 4*