Salt Lane

Salt Lane

Book - 2018
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No-one knew their names, the bodies found in the water. There are people here, in plain sight, that no-one ever notices at all. DS Alexandra Cupidi has done it again. She should have learnt to keep her big mouth shut, after the scandal that sent her packing - resentful teenager in tow - from the London Met to the lonely Kent coastline. Even murder looks different in this landscape of fens, ditches and stark beaches, shadowed by the towers of Dungeness power station. Murder looks a lot less pretty.The man drowned in the slurry pit had been herded there like an animal. He was North African, like many of the fruit pickers that work the fields. The more Cupidi discovers, the more she wants to ask - but these people are suspicious of questions.It will take an understanding of this strange place - its old ways and new crimes - to uncover the dark conspiracy behind the murder. Cupidi is not afraid to travel that road. But she should be. She should, by now, have learnt.
Publisher: New York : Mulholland Books/Little, Brown and Company, 2018
Characteristics: 455 pages ; 25 cm
Edition: First North American edition
ISBN: 9780316563505


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May 02, 2019

One of my favourite books of last year was “The Birdwatcher”. The MC was William South, a cop with a dodgy past who runs up against a new colleague named DS Alexandra Cupidi. In this outing she takes over the lead as a member of the Serious Crime team with Kent police.

Alexandra arrived in the area as a transfer from the Met. After an affair with a colleague in London was discovered, she packed up teenage daughter Zoë & moved to Dungeness. It hasn’t been an easy transition for either one of them.

I won’t go into the plot too much, the book blurb gives a good recap. Initially there are 2 puzzling cases on Alexandra’s plate: a dead woman who seems to be in 2 places at the same time & the body of a migrant found in a farm slurry. There are multiple twists to each tale that keep you guessing & Alex seems to have a talent for getting into sticky situations.

I must confess it took me along time to warm up to the MC. Understandably, she feels like a fish out of water in her new home & her involvement with the William South case didn’t exactly endear her to colleagues. Their relationships aren’t helped by her prickly personality but she does form an odd bond with Constable Jill Ferrier, her polar opposite. Her work ethic results in her being a largely absent parent & as Zoë becomes increasingly isolated & withdrawn, there were times I wanted to reach through the pages & give Alexandra a good shake. I was also a little confused about the sudden appearance of a former colleague from the Met. His short inclusion didn’t really add anything to the story & it slowed the pace around the much more intriguing murder investigations.

It’s also a story about fitting in. Doesn’t matter if you’re an African migrant or cop from London. You’re clearly from away & don’t know the people, their past & customs. You have to learn the rhythm of local life which can be as difficult as navigating the fens.

So while I initially found it harder to connect with Alexandra than I did with William South, she started to grow on me. Life in the fens weaves its spell & she goes from feeling like an outsider to thinking maybe, just maybe, she’s found a place she & Zoë belong. The author has a writing style that is eminently readable. That plus the intricate plot will keep you turning the pages to see how it all shakes out.

Dec 14, 2018

Decent enough but nothing special. I think the is the second of the series with these characters. I am not sure the new detective adds much but maybe the author has plans for her in upcoming books. I will read the next one but certainly not on the edge of my seat waiting for it. Probably a good book for those looking for a strong female lead without making the male characters look like idiots. I also like the descriptions of the Kent area. Many of the roads, towns, and the power plant can be found on Google maps.

Aug 09, 2018

For a person living in Colorado, the coast of Kent is truly exotic. Sort-of reclaimed marshland that often avoids being reclaimed. I found the environment in this novel to be the only remarkable character. The "left London for the boonies" lead character is supposed to be a police constable... but constantly breaks her own rules, even getting a co-worker cop injured. Then there is the strange teen daughter and even stranger mother of the constable. Determining the "bad guy" is easy enough by mid book. Don't know if some of awkward English in the dialogues is a result of a "regionalism" or failure of proofreaders. Probably worth your time just for the land description, but don't buy a ticket for the literary ride.

Jul 08, 2018

It seems more and more mysteries are actually thrillers in disguise. Experienced mystery readers will likely find the culprit to these crimes relatively easily. While the main character and her convoluted family issues provide a relatively solid framework going forward, the boilerplate detective who doesn't play by the rules (over and over and over again) is a tired cliche in this genre.


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