She s Leaving Home
Mulholland Books 2014
Named after a Beatles’ song—those of a certain age will remember it when you hear it—She’s Leaving Home is the debut police thriller by William Shaw. It is set in England in 1968, at the time of the Fab Four, when society was caught in the throes of racism, sexism, and irreversible social change. (We’ve certainly come a long way, baby! The book’s depiction of past times and mores illustrates that.) Kindle at Amazon
A body is found in a burned out derelict housing complex, where an unfortunate man may have been simply seeking shelter. Was his death a product of arson or accident?
A week later, a young woman is discovered naked and dead, dumped under a discarded mattress in an ordinary residential neighbourhood. Not overly popular in the Department, local officer Paddy Breen is assigned to the case. He reluctantly takes with him a similar outcast, Temporary Detective Constable Helen Tozer. Their investigation takes them around London, with connections to the Beatles’ fan club, and an aggressive black British national, campaigning for an independent Biafra.
The independent and risk taking Tozer proves to be invaluable, while Patty demonstrates his worth and chutzpah. These are particularly good elements. Likewise, the main characters’ back stories are good.
Although sometimes meandering and tangential, the story gains in complexity and focus as the novel progresses, with layered and hidden connections. It is interesting enough, and becomes an exciting and dangerous chase near the end.
The occasionally present fan club entertains with quirky personalities and conduct. Unfortunately the alleged arson case is no more than disappointing, distracting, and irrelevant filler which could have been omitted without consequence.
A pet peeve, is when authors present information and explanations, e.g. ‘He did that because…’ rather than letting the reader draw conclusions from what occurs. William Shaw does that often, usually within the context of dialogue about the investigation. Although She s Leaving Home by William Shaw contained elements necessary for a good thriller, this reader did not warm up to the book.