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William Shaw – a life of crime

The CPRE Sussex website master, William Shaw, is also a brilliant crime novelist in his spare time!


As described in the Sunday Times, William Shaw ‘handles diverse plotlines brilliantly, demonstrating his ability to write about contemporary events with keen intelligence.’ He is ‘a superb storyteller’.

William’s latest novel, ‘Grave’s End’, involves unscrupulous planners and the natural history of badgers! He will talk about his work, inspiration and plots – often set in familiar landscapes. Don’t miss this opportunity to meet William and find out more.

William led a splendid and very watchable Zoom conversation about crime writing on 28 February as part of the CPRE Sussex Festival of Spring.   It was both entertaining and informative and the discussion on the public’s thirst for crime and murder was fascinating.  Find out more about William Shaw and his books at:

We have received wonderful feedback from our guests and some have shared their personal book recommendations:

Penny Hudd: mine would be that Rosemary Sutcliffe’s children’s book ‘Warrior Scarlett ‘ which is set in the South Downs. It’s a good one, set – in the 9th century (I think!) – her evocation of time and place are always terrific – good stories to keep pages turning too!

Ed Peacock: very many thanks for putting on the William Shaw talk last night.  It was so interesting and inspiring for all those of us who like to see how a crime novel comes about!

You asked for reading suggestions.  If I’m not too late, may I nominate: ‘The Servant’ by Maggie Richell-Davies.  It’s set in the underside of 18th-century London and was inspired by a visit to the Foundling Museum.  Maggie is a local author (Tunbridge Wells), and the novel was published in 2019.  For me it was a page-turner.

David Johnson: I enjoyed C.J Sansom’s latest  book – ‘Tombland’ – because his discussion of the people’s revolt was more important than the plot and had been omitted from my education.

Lesley Wilson:  I love ‘The Secret Network of Nature’ by Peter Wolhlleben – gives such insight to the connectedness of nature and made me think about any harm I might inadvertently cause.  I also enjoy the detail and complexity of crime novels written by J.K. Rowling and Robert Galbraith such as ‘Silkworm’ and ‘The Cuckoo’s Calling’.  My favourite novel is Vikram Set’s ‘A Suitable Boy’.

John Graham: I can unequivocally recommend a true crime story that has been wonderfully written by Tobias Jones who is an expert on Italy and the language. The murder takes place in Bournemouth but the perpetrator comes from Italy where he has ‘form’. The book is called ‘Blood on the Altar’. It’s a riveting read.  I’m looking forward to reading other people’s suggestions.

Hilary Green:  I very much enjoyed the recent Zoom talk by William Shaw.  You suggested we might like to recommend our favourite books.  Mine is ‘The Boy, the mole, the fox and the Horse’ by Charlie Mackesy, published by Penguin  ISBN 978-1-52910-510-0   It’s particularly relevant for today, as we deal with the effect of Covid-19. The author states it’s a book for everyone, whether you are 80 or 8!

From the Zoom Chat:

Sophs Getley: Fredrick Bergman – “Anxious People” It made me laugh and cry in equal measure

From  Heidi: ‘The Four Men’ by Hilaire Belloc

From  Sophie: ‘Ostland’ by David Thomas

From  Denise: Elly Griffiths series of Norfolk books about Ruth, an archaeologist.

From  Peter: ‘Elizabeth is missing’ by Emma Healy

Other recommendations: 

The Wallander novels by Henning Mankell

‘I am missing’ by Tim Weaver

‘Troubled Blood’ by Robert Galbraith

‘The Long Exile’ by Melanie McGrath

We’d love to hear more – tell us about your favourite books and please send us your reviews to