The sea and the coast – a setting for murder

Some time ago I read William Shaw’s crime novel The Birdwatcher. You can see my review here. In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I made it one of my books of the year in 2021. That story mainly involved a police officer called William South who we know from the beginning of the book was a murderer. When his past came back to affect him it was investigated by a new detective to the force, Alexandra Cupid. In The Trawlerman Alex Cupid is the main character although William South also features. Some of the decisions that are made in this book are affected by the earlier story so I think it wise to have read the first book before you read this one. There are three other books featuring Alex which come between these two which I haven’t read but which I am definitely going to search out in the near future.

The Trawlerman starts with Alex on sick leave because of events that have happened in a previous book. She is not functioning well but at the start of the story she stops a woman attacking someone. The attacker takes a knife to a wedding and only Alex seems to see it and is able to stop the woman before there is injury or death. This causes her to start wondering about what the woman has said and why she assumes that her ex-daughter-in-law (the bride) has killed her son. The local detectives, however, are investigating the murder of a whole family at their home and Alex becomes peripherally involved in that because she knows some of the witnesses as well as the police officers.

Both puzzles are interesting and Alex becomes involved with them both – police officers on sick leave seem not to be able to avoid this. In the end, the two stories come together in a very clever way and Alex has to make some serious decisions about what she does.

These stories are set on the Kent coast in and around Dungeness. The coastal location and the sea are very important to the story and they make for an interesting environment. Alex’s daughter is very keen on bird watching and nature and that too is woven into the narrative. I also liked the fact that Alex’s mental health issues, resulting from what has happened in the past, are taken seriously by both herself and those around her.

This is a well-crafted and engaging crime novel. The environment is interesting and the plot addresses some issues of current concern. The characters are well rounded and feel very real and they have some challenging decisions to make. The author doesn’t put a foot wrong in this book and the result is that it is an excellent crime thriller.

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