Friday, December 18, 2015
Review of A Song from Dead Lips by William Shaw (Quercus, 2013)
Set in London at the tail-end of the swinging sixties, A Song from Dead Lips captures not only the changes taking place at the time, but also the rump of old conservatism and everyday racism and sexism, the influence of class, and the pervasiveness of corruption within institutions. Along with context, the key ingredients of the book are its two lead characters and their somewhat awkward relationship. Detective Sergeant Breen is a principled outsider, the son of an Irish immigrant builder, who is marginalised within CID. WPC Helen Tozer is an ambitious but rather naïve detective determined to break the glass ceiling. Shaw surrounds them with a number of other well penned coppers and suspects. The plot is a relatively straightforward police procedural, with Breen and Tozer fighting their colleagues as they struggle to solve the mystery. The result is an engaging tale full of social and political commentary.