William Shaw, an award-winning pop-culture journalist, does a standout job with his debut novel, She’s Leaving Home. This British crime thriller has a compelling whodunit plot staged in ’60s London, rampant with racism, sexism and an ever-growing counterculture of groupies clinging to the belief that love is all you need.

After a disreputable act of cowardice, Detective Sergeant Cathal Breen has one chance to regain face in his police squadron. Breen takes the murder case of an unidentified woman found near Abbey Road Studios, believing the victim to be a Beatles fan who frequently camps outside. Many of his colleagues are unsympathetic, wanting to call the case as it is, but Breen suspects there is more to the story.

He is joined by Helen Tozer, the first woman on his detective staff. Her tomboyish nature and brash characteristics at first unnerve Breen, who is more traditional, but their seemingly conflicting natures perfectly complement each other. Breen brings years of policing and detective methodology to the table, while Tozer, a Beatles junkie herself, empathizes with the younger generation. As the investigatory duo get closer to solving the case, they soon find themselves caught between intergenerational quarrels, racial tensions and political revolutionaries.

Shaw’s dialogue is well developed and his period detail is razor sharp, immersing the reader in the tumultuous era of swinging London with immediately relatable characters. She’s Leaving Home is the first installation in a trilogy of cultural thrillers, so keep an eye out for this dynamic duo. Whether you’re a Beatles fan or a mystery lover, this book comes highly recommended.

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