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  • Location: Romney Marsh, Kent

Salt Lane

Salt Lane

Why a Booktrail?

2000s: When bodies start to surface from the murky marshes, there’s more secrets to follow

  • ISBN: 978-1786486578
  • Genre: Crime

What you need to know before your trail

DS Alexandra Cupidi has been ‘removed’ from the London Met and sent to the lonely Kent coastline following a scandal. Everything looks different in this landscape of fens, ditches and stark beaches, shadowed by the towers of Dungeness power station. Even 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.

Travel Guide

Author guide:

Dungeness

The extraordinary spit of shingle, poking out into the channel south of Lyddin Kent. Here,the Royal Naval Signal Service Cottages that sit behind the Dungeness Nuclear Power Station are where I’ve installed DS Alex Cupidi and her daughter Zoë. I’ve spent a lot of time around here researching the book. Last year I got to stay in one of the old railway carriages… beautiful. Spend a day here. If the weather’s good just walk. If it’s bad, slip into the Pilot for a bite and a pint.

St Thomas à Becket Church, Fairfield.

North of Dungeness lies the immense area of Romney Marsh, criss-crossed with the ancient drains that transformed it into farmland over the last two thousand years. Researching Salt Lane I talked to the Romney Marsh Internal Area Drainage Board, who are responsible for keeping the land drained through a network of legal obligations that goes back to Henry VII. The church is surrounded by these little ditches, locally called sewers. The vanished village of Fairfield lies in Walland Marsh, where much of the action of Salt Lane is set. I was so glad when the publisher’s picked the image of the church for the cover. It means they’d been reading the book! If you go when it’s flooded there, it looks like the church is floating on water.

Ashford Panorama Building

Just north of the town centre, developers have turned this 70s office block into what they call luxury apartments. Detective Constable Jill Ferriter lives here. It’s the exact opposite of everything DS Alex Cupidi stands for in her escape to the countryside, but I think the place says a lot about Kent and the ambitions of a young Kent woman to live a metropolitan life.

RSPB Bird Reserve, Dungeness

If you have even the slightest interest in birds, this is the most wonderful place to spend a few hours. Dungeness has a big place in the history of birding. The RSPB opened their first ever bird reserve here in 1932. In the post World War II era when birding became a mass obsession, and when birders started to travel for miles to see new species, Dungeness became a special destination as a place where you could spot rare migrants, resting on or near the flooded gravel pits. Every talk I give I meet a birder who loves the place.

Greenham Common

This RAF airbase in Berkshire has a special place in British women’s history. Any many of my generation knows women who went to protest there after the government allowed the US to station long-range nuclear missiles there. The Peace Camp started in 1981 by the the mid-80s, hundreds of thousands of women had taken part in the protests. The idea of a single-gender anti-war protest was radical. If it failed to rid us of cruise missiles, it succeeded in becoming a transformational act for a whole generation of women. But it’s slipped from the collective memory somehow. Young people have often never heard of it. All that remains of the protest now is a small commemorative garden on land next to what was originally the camp’s Yellow Gate – the main entrance to the RAF site.

Trail Gallery

Booktrailer Review

Susan: @thebooktrailer

A very fine novel and one which  evokes setting in  every way possible – the darkness, the way of living on this land, the use of this land for workers, illegal and otherwise, the land’s change over the years, the rawness of the sea and the elements ….it’s exposed, raw and hard to deal with at times..and all of this is also the essence of this very immersive read.

The land is inhospitable in places and this is reflected on the poor illegal immigrants forced to work for peanuts in back breacking work on farms and marshland. The story built slowly but each piece fell into place and created a jigsaw of emotions. Romney Marsh holds many secrets it would seem and the story revealed them one by one.

This novel really shone for me as it weaves social commentary, great writing and unique observation of landscape into one neatly tied package. It’s grim in parts but there’s a raw quality in its brutal honesty and I found myself slowing down to appreciate it even more.

A great first in a series. I’m definitely on board for book two although I wil have to stop thinking that the main character is called Cupid

Booktrail Boarding Pass:  Salt Lane

Destination: Romney Marsh, Dungeness,   Author/Guide: William Shaw    Departure Time: 2000s

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