The Birdwatcher - William Shaw

William South is a policeman in the flatlands around Kent. He is a loner by nature and this is reflected in his past time of bird watching: a hobby that requires stealth, patience and a love of being by oneself. However, when his neighbour Bob Rayner is murdered the responsibility falls to him and his immediate superior DS Cupidi to bring the perpetrators of this vile crime to justice. South spent his childhood in the troubled streets of a 70's Belfast and is no stranger to death and suffering his father having been supposedly  murdered by paramilitaries present in the province at that time.

 

This story has a certain slow tempo and style, South is not a man to be hurried and he approaches his job in the same meticulous manner is his bird watching. He forms a connection with Cupidi whose daughter Zoe it would appear is keen to learn the principles of bird watching and South is almost forced to allow her to accompany him on "twitcher" expeditions. There is a presumption by the reader that South and Cupidi have a mutual romantic interest in each other but the author fails to explore this and their feelings never develop beyond their working environment. The author uses South's troubled childhood to introduce an element of intrigue as past and present collide in a bloody conclusion.

 

I found the whole story to be somewhat boring and lacking in any real warmth towards the characters. It is told in a present and past time line and indeed William's childhood was the most exciting and dangerous part, in contrast to his laborious and humdrum Kent existence.