New Release review: Sympathy For The Devil by William Shaw

sympathy cover

Sympathy For The Devil by William Shaw

The synopsis:


She made a profit from her youth. She’s not beautiful anymore – but now she will be young forever.

Called away from his pregnant girlfriend, Detective Sergeant Cathal Breen knows the sight of the murdered prostitute will be with him all his life. But this is what he does: he finds killers. Helen Tozer, more than most, understands why.


The girl they called Julie Teenager had a client list full of suspects – all rich, powerful – and protected. Someone warns off the beat coppers; someone disturbs the crime scene. When Breen gets a phone call from MI6, he fears just how protected his suspect is. These are dangerous waters, where Russian spies hide.

Then Helen, with her unstoppable copper’s instinct and fierce moral sense, dives into the investigation. And Breen knows he has more to lose than ever before. He is about to become a father. He can have no sympathy for the devil.

My review:

I actually read this straight after reading The Birdwatch by the same author. As novels go, they are poles apart in plot and themes. Sympathy For The Devil is much more dark, gritty and edgy. That’s not to say The Birdwatcher is not a cracking read too. I think the author has a real gift to write two very different novels so well.

The novel opens in the summer of 1969, with the body of a dead rock star floating in a pool. A rock star surrounded by wealth, privilege and beautiful women. Who has a known addiction problem. The plot moves on to what we come to know as Lena aka ‘Julie the teenager’ a prostitute who capitalises on her young looks with ‘an act’ that lures the perverted men whom desire underage teenage girls. The sleaze, secrets and depravity of sex work are fully explored. But when Julie the teenager is found dead, so begins a complex case of dead ends and mystery. Who killed Julie and why? Was it a punter? A manic? Or her maid?

Detective sergeant Cathal Breen is assigned the case. Breen and Constable Mint attempt to learn more about Julie the teenager. But how do you navigate a world built on secrecy, one where the Johns must remain anonymous, when you are the long arm of the law?

The other tenants in the apartment block provide clues and we learn of Lena’s past, one that leads right to WW2. Lena’s maid Florence is a pivotal part of the investigation but she can’t be found. Does she hold the secret list of clients? Who is on this list? Is there a link between the dead rock star and the dead hooker?

This novel has the trademark twists and turns of the author. Its complex, deep and interwoven. The characters are engaging good/bad you want to know more about them! The era is evocative and I found so many little details added up to really portray the 1960’s in its true light. One of drugs, sexual liberation and the changing roles of women. Will definitely read most by the same author!

Authors links:
Twitter: @william1shaw

*I received an Ebook arc via netgalley.

Review: The Birdwatcher by William Shaw 4*

The birdwatcher cover

The Birdwatcher by William Shaw

The Synopsis:

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 review:

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*