Dark, intelligent crime novel about a policeman with a secret past, and an emotive exploration of violence within the family
'Superb description of a haunting, blighted landscape. His best book so far.' C. J. Sansom
Police Sergeant William South has a reason for not wanting to be on the murder investigation.
He is a murderer himself.
But the victim was his only friend; like him, a passionate birdwatcher. South is warily partnered with the strong-willed Detective Sergeant Alexandra Cupidi, newly recruited to the Kent coast from London. Together they find the body, violently beaten, forced inside a wooden chest. Only rage could kill a man like this. South knows it.
But soon - too soon - they find a suspect: Donnie Fraser, a drifter from Northern Ireland. His presence in Kent disturbs William - because he knew him as a boy. If the past is catching up with him, South wants to meet it head on. For even as he desperately investigates the connections, he knows there is no crime, however duplicitous or cruel, that can compare to the great lie of his childhood.
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.
Superb description of a haunting, blighted landscape. His best book so far. — C. J. Sansom
A brilliantly constructed thriller, told part in flashback to his traumatic past, it's utterly compulsive, written in sharp, unsentimental style, and with a wonderfully atmospheric storm-battered setting — Sunday Mirror
What a pleasure it is when one discovers a writer who combines ironclad storytelling techniques with the linguistic finesse of more literary novelists. William Shaw is surely such a writer, a man whose command of narrative grips the reader by the throat from page one, and never lets go - but also allows every word to register with exactly the right amount of resonance. And that's not to forget the idiomatic dialogue, which is another Shaw specialty . . . The Birdwatcher, it might be argued, is Shaw's most accomplished (and most visceral) book yet . . . [The] unsparing treatment of the personality of South - and the dark drives that can lead people to murder - that is at the chilling heart of this book — Barry Forshaw, Independent
a fine, atmospheric, emotionally compelling thriller — John Williams, Mail on Sunday
A gripping plot, atmospheric setting, highly believable characters and dialogue you can imagine real people saying, make this a contender for thriller of the year — Sun
An astoundingly good crime novel — Elly Griffiths
Packs an emotional punch that hits all the harder because of the absence of histrionics. Crime Books of the Year — Telegraph
The Birdwatcher: the most gripping book I've read in years. William Shaw is, quite simply, an outstanding storyteller — Peter May
If you're not a fan yet, why not? — Val McDermid