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A Song for the Brokenhearted

(Breen and Tozer #3)

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  465 ratings  ·  83 reviews
In the final chapter of William Shaw's trilogy, Breen and Tozer fight against a powerful member of 1960s London society.

London, December 1968. A wounded Detective Sergeant Breen recuperates on Tozer's family farm where he's given the case file for the murder that has haunted Tozer for years: that of her teenage sister. Breen discovers that the victim had been having a sec
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published January 19th 2016 by Mulholland Books (first published June 4th 2015)
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Average rating 4.08  · 
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Jul 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was a dark and disturbing book because of the inclusion of the Emergency in Kenya in the early 1950’s. If torture and brutality pushes a button for you, this is your warning.

I like Cathal Breen, but I just don’t see what he sees in Helen Tozer. I can’t figure her out. She’s crabby and mean and short-tempered. I understand her background and her predicament, and she is tough and smart. There has to be more to her, though. Something to make her more likable.

I’m going right into Book #4, then
May 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“Murdered people never really go away...”

This is the third novel in the Breen and Tozer series, set in the late 1960’s and following on from, “A House of Knives,” and “A Song From Dead Lips.” It is 1969 and Cathal ‘Paddy’ Breen is recuperating from injuries suffered at the end of the last novel, at the Devon farmhouse where Helen Tozer grew up. Also on the family farm is Hibou, a young hippie girl befriended previously by Tozer. Helen Tozer has been forced to give up her career as a policewoman
Feb 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Once again William Shaw effortlessly captures the feel of 1960's Britain while simultaneously revealing some nasty events from Britain's colonial past in Kenya, during the Mau Mau uprising - a story that has resonated down the decades since.

Five years ago, teenager Alexandra Tozer - sister of Met police detective Cathal Breen's ex-partner, Helen Tozer - was brutally tortured and murdered but her killer was never found.
As a favour to Helen, who has left the police force to return to her parents'
Cathal Kenneally
Very surprised by this book to be fair. I only read it as part of a challenge as it contains a character with my name. It’s by an author I’m not familiar with but still a good crime drama with a little romance of sorts thrown in for good measure.
The main character is investigating an old unsolved murder and suddenly all is not what seems to be when they start digging a little deeper. Set in Devon but it takes us to London and back to Devon again. There’s a dramatic twist towards the end which u
May 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Following the violent denouement of the previous book, A Book of Scars sees our erstwhile hero detective Cathal Breen taking an enforced spell of R&R at the family farm in Devon of his feisty former police colleague Helen Tozer, who has recently left the Met. Inevitably though, the long shadow cast by the unsolved murder of Tozer’s sister, Alexandra, five years previously, comes back to haunt them in this much darker instalment of William Shaw’s superb 1960’s set series. As the book opens in the ...more
Jan 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Originally reviewed at The Book Adventures.

With A Song for the Brokenhearted William Shaw wraps up the Breen & Tozer mystery trilogy and I’m left hoping to read more about these characters. A trilogy can become a series, right? This book was everything that I hoped it would be: awesome characters, occasional humour, and a mystery that not only holds a personal connection for the main characters but also sheds light on events of an international nature.

A Song for the Brokenhearted picks up soon a
Dec 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery, shaw-william
I realized about two-thirds of the way through this novel that it was the third in the series. I'd read the first but not the second. So now I'll read the second one. My American hardcover edition (called A SONG FOR THE BROKENHEARTED, in case you're looking up the same book by its British title, A BOOK OF SCARS) does not state that this is the third Breen and Tozer novel.
In any case, it is an improvement over the first one, which was itself a good novel. William Shaw makes some of the scenes qui
Sep 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Really three and a half stars. It didn't have as much of Helen Tozer in the story as the previous books did. Also, the scenes of torture were a bit emotionally difficult for me to read. Still, this is a great series and I will definitely be reading the next book. ...more
May 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Loved it. Sympathy for the Devil up next. One of my favorite series'. ...more
Book Addict Shaun
May 21, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
Having read and enjoyed A Song from Dead Lips and A House of Knives, I was disappointed that the Breen & Tozer series was only going to be a trilogy but after finishing A Book of Scars I can see where William Shaw was going with the series and it works incredibly well as three books. This is definitely one of the most exciting and original trilogies I have read in recent years.

A Book of Scars is a difficult book to summarise, on a very basic 'this is what happens' level, Helen Tozer has left the
Sep 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book returns to the strengths of the first book in the series. Breen and Tozer's investigations have a way of not only grappling with the dark side of 60s London society, but also the whole historical and cultural legacy of Britain's fading empire. ...more
Rob Kitchin
Jul 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Book of Scars is the third book in the Cathal Breen and Helen Tozer series set in the 1960s. In this outing, it’s 1969: Tozer has left the police and Breen is recovering from being shot. While recuperating Breen starts to secretly investigate the violent murder of Tozer’s sister five years previously. A carefree teenager, Alexandra had been conducting an affair with a local Lord when she was snatched, tortured and killed. Breen’s sniffing about has unsettled some of those questioned in the ori ...more
Shaw has an excellent sense of the dramatic, always leaving the reader with a sense of unease and the feeling that his characters really are in peril; there is genuine suffering in his books, and resolutions are never trite or superficial. The setting, England in the 1960s, is stylish but also gives the reader a feeling for the turmoil and upheaval an unsettled culture experiences when there is dramatic social and generational change. Readers who are familiar with that era and place will enjoy a ...more
Christopher Cole
Loved it as much as the other two (here in the States, they're called She's Leaving Home (1) and The Kings of London (2); this is called Song for the Brokenhearted). Setting stories in a time before the conveniences of technology allows things to simmer rather than boil. Great reads if you like your mysteries with a bit of the swinging 60s! ...more
Jan 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This series just gets better and better. Highly recommended.
Alston Antony
Feb 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5-star, male-lead, crime
An excellent book in the series, thoroughly enjoyed over the last book (it was bad). I love the dynamics and story-line was perfect. It had great flow and kept me interested in story throughout the chapters. Overall a A+ Book and will definitely continue the series.
Jun 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another interesting adventure with Breen and Tozer, characters whom I've really grown to love over the past 3 novels.
Gripping, easy-to-read and a satisfying ending, what more could you want in a thriller?
Jan 05, 2019 added it
I hope this isn't the last we see of Breen & Tozer! They are such great characters! The mystery in this one unfolds very similarly to Galbrath's Career of Evil. It was right in front of us the whole time! Shaw writes such well-crafted stories! ...more
Christopher Williams
This series sort of merges from one book to the next almost seamlessly. Like simply starting a new chapter in the same book as you start a new one!
In this we are back in Devon on the Tozer family farm and Breen is recuperating from being shot at the end of the previous volume. The case of Helen Tozer's sister Alexandra who was murdered some years previously becomes the central issue and Breen starts to review the case notes from the time.
Really liked this one and again, brought out the time and
May 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is the third in a trilogy and despite many references to the previous novels, it stands alone well. If anything, it has made me want to read the earlier books to find out more about Helen and Paddy.
It is 1969. Cathal (Paddy)Breen, a police detective at the Met and Helen Tozer , who previously worked with Paddy as a police officer are the main characters. Paddy is recuperating from injuries suffered at the end of the last novel, at the Devon farmhouse where Helen grew up. Helen has bee
Ginny Kavanagh
May 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is the 3rd Breen/Tozer installment in the series. I love that the stories take place mostly in London in the 60's. The music and the culture from that crazy time are as much characters as are Paddy Breen and Helen Tozer. Women in the office are still sent out to make the coffee but I guess they make up for it by rebelliously smoking and drinking during pregnancy. Shaw doesn't glorify the 60's. He just nails it. Paddy has taken up temporary residence at Helen's family farm while he recovers ...more
Anne Coates
Jan 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Book of Scars by William Shaw

This is the final instalment of William Shaw’s Breen and Tozer series. Although I haven’t read the previous books, I didn’t feel at a disadvantage as A Book of Scars reads well as a stand-alone. However, I imagine readers of the previous two books would be even more delighted. There was only one brief moment when I thought the timeline might have been wrong but that was probably just me.

The book, set in 1969, starts slowly with DS Camal Breen recuperating on the To
Apr 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
I found the prologue here intriguing even a little unsettling and it certainly made me want to read on. I quickly found that I liked the writing style and within a couple of chapters I realised I was hooked. Set in the '60s this book is atmospheric and shows mostly very good research. The emergence of "hippy" culture for example comes over very well. It is actually the third in a series I discovered however it is fine for a standalone read. Cathal (Paddy) a serving police officer and Helen, prev ...more
Some books are hard to get through, but are worth it. Some books are engaging, but don't have much to say. And some books yank you in like a whitewater rapid, immerse you in a strange and fascinating world, and don't let you go until they spit you out on some shore far away. Bless William Shaw, this book is definitely of the third sort.

A Song for the Brokenhearted is a historical crime thriller that feels ripped from today's headlines. Its brilliance is never flashy or in-your-face--but, oh, it
May 25, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A bit of a slow burner that flamed with intensity and ferocity once it got going. For the first few chapters I enjoyed the vivid descriptions of place and action but found it difficult to warm to the central characters. I wasn't aware this was the final book in a trilogy and therefore feel I missed the opportunity to get to know the characters better. Having said that, it was a very good read, just a bit slow at the start. Once the story got a bit more involved I was hooked into the 60s backdrop ...more
Cathy Beyers
May 24, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having read the first two books of the trilogy, I was excited when I got approval from Netgalley to read this one. I wasn't disappointed. The story lines continue, and the unsolved murder of Helen Tozer's sister Alex, becomes the focus of this story. As a reader I always expected the murder to have a close to home motive, but the solution, it turns out, lies very far away indeed. William Shaw is great at describing the period (sixties) atmosphere and has done meticulous research into the British ...more
Dec 05, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 Stars I just love this series. This is the 3rd book in the Breen and Tozer series. Breen is recovering from injuries he sustained in book 2 and has moved to the Tozer family farm in rural England to rehab. Breen, a Londoner and city person, is going a bit stir crazy. Tozer gets Breen involved looking into the 4 year old homicide of her sister, which was the reason Tozer became an officer. The investigation leads beyond the Tozer farm where Alexandra Tozer's tortured body was found to the far ...more
Jan 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
I received an ARC of this book and just finished it. While recovering from a gunshot wound at the farm of a family friend, Detective Breen becomes involved in solving the murder of his friend's sister. This is multi-level story that has many different facets. Not only is the story a very suspenseful mystery, it also encompasses a historical aspect involving the history of Kenya and Britain's involvement in the end of the empire in that country. I must say, however, this book is not for the faint ...more
Jul 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read the three Breen and Tozer books back to back and loved them. I particularly love the way the books are so linked, with threads from one becoming key in the next. The two main characters are well defined and very interesting, the background ones slightly less so but that might just be because in my head they keep morphing into chaps from Life on Mars - even though these are set in 1968/9 the rampant sexism, racism and corruption are so similar. Loved the series, can't wait for book four. S ...more
Jan 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
I am really enjoying this series. Grownup characters, complicated, not cardboard or stock characters. This one was perhaps a bit too long, but suspenseful. It includes some factual info on British atrocities committed in Kenya at the time of the Mau Mau uprising (it ties into the core of the story).

I'm disappointed to see that this appears to be the last book in the series! Published in 2015, so hopefully there will be more. (Note: yes, the author's note says there will be another one coming.)
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I'm a crime writer and write the Breen & Tozer series set in London in 1968-9 and the Alex Cupidi series set in Dungeness, Kent.

In 2016, I published a standalone called The Birdwatcher . That comes out in the US in 2017. After that, I'm picking up the Breen and Tozer series again with a new one called Sympathy for the Devil

The non-fiction books I wrote include Westsiders , an account of sev

Other books in the series

Breen and Tozer (4 books)
  • A Song From Dead Lips (Breen and Tozer, #1)
  • A House of Knives (Breen and Tozer, #2)
  • Sympathy for the Devil (Breen and Tozer, #4)

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