Sloth and Tap are two bored, broke seventeen-year-olds who decide to liven things up and line their pockets by stealing smartphones. And wouldn't you know it? They prove that they have no talent for it and no luck whatsoever when they steal a phone from someone who's willing to kill them to get it back.
While the two boys are trying to stay alive, Detective Sergeant Alexandra Cupidi is trying to solve the case of the severed arm found in a work of art. She and Detective Constable Jill Ferriter are finding it tough going because no one takes the case seriously.
But the case becomes more and more sinister, and when Cupidi finds out about the two boys (who happen to be the same age as her own daughter), she can't help but worry about them, too.
This series just keeps getting better and better and better. Alexandra Cupidi made her first appearance in The Birdwatcher, and although I couldn't stand her character, the story was so good that I knew I'd read the next book, Salt Lane. Deadland is a wonderful addition. Cupidi has had some of her rough edges knocked off by now, and William South from The Birdwatcher returns.
This is a series that character-driven readers should love. In Deadland, we have the added bonus of learning more about DC Jill Ferriter and why her choice of career says so much about her as a person. We also get to laugh a bit at her expense when it comes to her choice of shoes and her hero worship. Cupidi's seventeen-year-old daughter, Zoë, is growing up, too-- and she's showing all the signs of turning into a wonderful, strong human being, even though Cupidi's nerves may not survive the metamorphosis.
How the two subplots featuring Sloth and Tap and the arm in the sculpture merge together is compelling and addictive. I didn't want to stop reading until I'd reached the end. Shaw really ratchets up the suspense as the two boys keep one-half step ahead of the man tracking them down, and the arm in the sculpture was a real puzzler until the plot threads finally began to be woven together.
Deadland is a masterful bit of storytelling. If you're a fan of police procedurals (especially British ones), get your hands on a copy. If you're a fan of strong, multi-faceted characters, get your hands on a copy. If you want to submerge yourself in a story and not think about anything else, get your hands on a copy. (And I haven't even mentioned the atmospheric setting of the marshlands!) You could skip reading The Birdwatcher and Salt Lane and jump right into Deadland, but I'd advise against it. Why deprive yourself of such wonderful reading?
Deadland by William Shaw
riverrun © 2019
Hardcover, 480 pages
Police Procedural, #2 Alexandra Cupidi mystery
Source: Purchased from Amazon UK.