cover image She’s Leaving Home

She’s Leaving Home

William Shaw. Little, Brown/Mulholland, $26 (432p) ISBN 978-0-316-24684-2

Pop culture journalist Shaw plays to his strength in his first novel set amid England’s cultural clashes in 1968 with the Beatles craze still going strong, immigration creating new frictions, and the generation gap upsetting many families. Det. Sgt. Cathal “Paddy” Breen, despite being in disfavor among his mates for inexplicably leaving a comrade alone to face a thief with a knife, is assigned to head the investigation of the murder of a “young naked woman” found near the Beatles’ EMI recording studio in London. The addition of Temporary Det. Constable Helen Tozer to his squad doesn’t sit well with the sexist Breen. Fresh, eager Tozer and stolid, unimaginative Breen make an odd couple as they adjust to each other and work to identify the victim. Alienated Beatles’ fans, supporters of Biafran independence, and adults frustrated by changing mores make for a heady stew of likely and unlikely suspects, but some weak minor characters and a thin plot undercut an otherwise promising debut. Agent: Karolina Sutton, Curtis Brown. (Feb.)