First up, The Cheltenham Square Murder by John Bude. This is my first book for the What's In A Name? challenge which is being hosted by The Worm Hole. This one covers the category: A Shape.
Excellent vintage crime story, this. Quite complicated with a large cast of characters but a diagram of the square, its house and occupants, at the start of the book, was very useful indeed. I didn't have a clue who'd done the deed until the police realised, but it was huge fun trying to work it all out as dribs and drabs of information were revealed. Nice sense of the area, Cheltenham and The Cotswolds, and a very nice 1930s feel to the whole book. I remain a bit smitten with these BLCC books.
Next, The Birdwatcher By William Shaw.
There were two reasons why William South did not want to be on the murder team.
The First was that it was October. The migrating birds had begun arriving on the coast.
The second was that, though nobody knew, he was a murderer himself.
So, William South is a sargeant in the Kent police force. He's also a very keen birdwatcher and a bit of a loner, with very few friends. One of these friends, Bob Rayner, is found brutally murdered in his home at Dungeness, a headland and vast shingle beach on the Kent coast. Despite knowing the deceased, South is assigned the case along with a new to the area CID officer, DS Alexandra Cupidi. She has a teenage daughter and doesn't want to discuss the reasons for her move from London. South is not a happy man. So far throughout his entire career he's managed to avoid murder cases; this is his first, and it's his best friend. Or was he? It turns out South knew very little about Bob. Bob had secrets and discovering what these are is proving quite tricky for the police duo. But South has secrets too. Can he discover the identity of a killer and not reveal his own very dark secret to the world?
This was a random grab from the library... 'grabbed' because of its title. I too am a bit of a birdwatcher so a book with that title is naturally going to appeal. Sometimes these grabs work out, sometimes they don't... this one very definitely did. I love these murder mystery books where the writing is such that nothing holds you up and you can just read and read thereby wallowing in the case and the characters and the setting. The setting is marvellous. Sadly, I've not been to Kent so the Dungeness area is only familiar via TV programmes, Gardener's World featured it once for instance... the difficulties of gardening on shingle and with all that salt in the air. So I did know what it was like but not from personal experience. The author makes the area really come alive, and the windswept, lonely atmosphere is tangible. I liked South even though he's grumpy and anti-social. His background was fascinating. I'm not going to say what it is as that would be a spoiler, the details are slotted into the storyline seamlessly and to me were quite chilling. Anyway, this is a prequel book apparently. William Shaw is going to write a series about DS Cupidi, the first book, Salt Lane is due out in May. I shall be reading it.