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The Resource The birdwatcher : a novel, William Shaw

The birdwatcher : a novel, William Shaw

Label
The birdwatcher : a novel
Title
The birdwatcher
Title remainder
a novel
Statement of responsibility
William Shaw
Title variation
Bird watcher
Creator
Author
Subject
Genre
Language
eng
Summary
A methodical, diligent, and exceptionally bright detective, South is an avid birdwatcher and trusted figure in his small town on the rugged Kentish coast. He also lives with the deeply buried secret that, as a child in Northern Ireland, he may have killed a man. When a fellow birdwatcher is found murdered in his remote home, South's world flips. The culprit seems to be a drifter from South's childhood; the victim was the only person connecting South to his early crime; and a troubled, vivacious new female sergeant has been relocated from London and assigned to work with South. As our hero investigates, he must work ever-harder to keep his own connections to the victim, and his past, a secret
Storyline
Pace
Tone
Writing style
Character
Review
  • /* Starred Review */ This quiet novel has an air of Scandinavian noir about it—the chilly landscape, the grim murder, the dysfunctional relationships—and like the best northerly fiction, it brilliantly uses close character studies to immerse readers in a bleak storyscape. The southern tip of England is the stand-in for Scandinavia here, with one of its windswept shingle peninsulas the scene of a murder investigated by avid birder Detective William South. South is originally from Northern Ireland, and scenes alternate between the present day, when the detective is paired with his new boss in solving the murder, and his youth in that troubled place, when he was involved in a crime of his own. The two tales are equally well told and equally affecting. The writing is beautifully understated, and the characters are vividly drawn and likable in their imperfections. Shaw makes the stony landscape an important element in the work; it becomes, by the end of the story, a place to which readers will feel a curiously strong attachment. Despite the book’s title, birding takes a backseat to sleuthing here, but birders will appreciate the many details of the hobby that are sprinkled throughout the tale. Those who enjoy a Northern Irish story could try Stuart Neville’s Those We Left Behind (2015) after this, as it also features a mystery surrounding a stricken boy, while readers who are partial to the nature details here might like Katharine Norbury’s The Fish Ladder: A Journey Upstream (2015). -- Verma, Henrietta (Reviewed 3/1/2017) (Booklist, vol 113, number 13, p41)
  • At the start of British author Shaw’s engaging crime novel, William South, an avid birdwatcher and a community policing officer in Kent, England, muses on why he doesn’t want to be part of a murder team. First, it’s October, and the migratory birds are arriving. And, second, because “he was a murderer himself.” (As a child, he may have killed a man.) William is even more reluctant to participate when he learns that the victim is fellow birdwatcher Robert Rayner, a friend and neighbor. Rayner’s death is a mystery, and his life turns out to be an equally big one. Shaw (A Song for the Brokenhearted) has more than enough material there for a fine procedural, but he interweaves the present-day case with a more personal one, set in Northern Ireland in an earlier generation: 13-year-old Billy McGowan’s father is murdered during the Troubles between the Protestants and the Catholics, and locals, not all of them official, want to know who did it. Both plotlines intrigue, but the crosscutting weakens the overall impact. Still, the action builds to a thrilling ending. Agent: Karolina Sutton, Curtis Brown. (June) --Staff (Reviewed 04/03/2017) (Publishers Weekly, vol 264, issue 14, p)
  • When William South was a child, he and his mother relocated to a small town on the rugged Kentish coast of England from Northern Ireland, after his father was murdered. Now a detective, he is a trusted member of his community and is well known to locals as an avid amateur birdwatcher. When a fellow birdwatcher and neighbor is discovered dead in his home, Alexandra Cupidi, a policewoman from London, is assigned to assist William in solving the case. However, once someone personally connected to the death of William's father is also found murdered, he is taken off the case. While on leave from the force, William continues to investigate the killings until his own secrets are unveiled. VERDICT Award-winning author Shaw ("Breen and Tozer" series) delivers an outstanding stand-alone novel; its gritty protagonist, intricate plot, and atmospheric description of the English countryside will please readers of Tana French's "Dublin Murder Squad" series.—Russell Michalak, Goldey-Beacom Coll. Lib., Wilmington, DE --Russell Michalak (Reviewed 04/15/2017) (Library Journal, vol 142, issue 07, p78)
  • Detective South hates murder cases, particularly the one he's been ducking for 40 years. Shaw's (A Song for the Brokenhearted, 2016, etc.) downbeat detective story follows the investigation of a brutal murder in the bleak, remote Kentish marshlands of southeastern England. Sgt. William South, assigned to the task force, knew the victim—a quiet, private neighbor who accompanied the policeman on birding expeditions—and aspects of the crime echo a shameful incident from South's own past. As the case grows increasingly personal, South must reckon with his own long-buried sins to bring his friend's killer to justice and break free of the isolating shell of secrecy that has stranded him, lonely and adrift, in a life of anonymous, penitential service. South is a sour and guarded personality, but Shaw makes him an unusually compelling narrator, deftly evoking the watchfulness, intelligence, and wounded decency in the man, with frequent flashbacks to South's tragic youth mired in the Troubles of Northern Ireland providing an emotional baseline for the older South's doggedly stoic efforts. Further complicating South's routine is the arrival of Alexandra Cupidi, a hotshot female investigator fresh from London, eager to prove herself in her new parochial surroundings, and Alex's troubled teenage daughter, Zoë, who touchingly takes up birding in an effort to bond with South, sensing a kindred lonely soul. All the pieces then are in place for a tidy redemption arc, but Shaw has something a bit more nuanced in mind; this is a character study as much as it is a (very competent) procedural, and the author imbues his cast with enough rough edges, private drives, and emotional messiness to make pat resolutions untenable. Shaw delivers something more satisfying: a juicy suburban crime story limned with authentic feeling and sensitivity for the poor doomed souls in its grip. A grimly effective crime drama distinguished by its richly drawn protagonist and empathetic understanding of human behavior, be it saintly or profane. (Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 2018)
http://library.link/vocab/ext/novelist/bookUI
10566096
Cataloging source
YDX
http://library.link/vocab/creatorDate
1959-
http://library.link/vocab/creatorName
Shaw, William
Dewey number
823.9/2
Index
no index present
LC call number
PS
Literary form
fiction
http://library.link/vocab/resourcePreferred
True
http://library.link/vocab/subjectName
  • Police
  • Secrecy
  • Bird watching
  • Murder
  • Retribution
  • Kent (England)
Target audience
adult
Label
The birdwatcher : a novel, William Shaw
Instantiates
Publication
Copyright
Note
"Originally published in Great Britain by Quercus, May 2016" -- title page verso
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Dimensions
25 cm
Edition
First North American edition.
Extent
329 pages
Isbn
9780316316248
Lccn
2016944259
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
System control number
  • 960277093
  • (OCoLC)960277093
Label
The birdwatcher : a novel, William Shaw
Publication
Copyright
Note
"Originally published in Great Britain by Quercus, May 2016" -- title page verso
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Dimensions
25 cm
Edition
First North American edition.
Extent
329 pages
Isbn
9780316316248
Lccn
2016944259
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
System control number
  • 960277093
  • (OCoLC)960277093

Library Locations

    • James City County LibraryBorrow it
      7770 Croaker Road, Williamsburg, VA, 23188, US
      37.377573 -76.770995
    • Williamsburg LibraryBorrow it
      515 Scotland Street, Williamsburg, VA, 23185, US
      37.377573 -76.770995
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