Early in The Puppet Show, as we meet Washington Poe – our host for this
evening series – there’s reference to a backstory. He’s been suspended and he and his former DS, now his boss-to-be (as they switch jobs) DI Stephanie Flynn talk about the fallout from a previous case. I wondered if in fact there was something I was missing.
I’d checked the front of the book jacket – though I guess they’re more just covers now than jackets – for any previous books by MW Craven and saw none listed.
Thankfully a page or two explains the history to us, however… I discovered Craven has had a previous series published centred around a fictional detective and also set in Cumbria…. published as Mike Craven. Which probably explains some of the confidence with which he writes the first in this new series.
by M.W. Craven
Series: Washington Poe #1
Published by Little Brown Book Group
on June 12th 2018
Source: Hachette Australia
Genres: Police Procedural, Thriller / Suspense
ISBN: 1472127439, 9781472127440
A serial killer is burning people alive in the Lake District's prehistoric stone circles. He leaves no clues and the police are helpless.
When his name is found carved into the charred remains of the third victim, disgraced detective Washington Poe is brought back from suspension and into an investigation he wants no part of.
Reluctantly partnered with the brilliant but socially awkward civilian analyst, Tilly Bradshaw, the mismatched pair uncover a trail that only he is meant to see. The elusive killer has a plan and for some reason Poe is part of it.
As the body count rises, Poe discovers he has far more invested in the case than he could have possibly imagined. And in a shocking finale that will shatter everything he's ever believed about himself, Poe will learn that there are things far worse than being burned alive...
Regular readers of my insightful reviews (!!!) would know that I love me some quirky characters. And though Poe is likeable and a bit of a non-conformist the quirk comes via Tilly who is most likely somewhere on the autism spectrum…. or at least very socially challenged. It’s something she recognises though (well, she does when it’s pointed out to her) and she tries to compensate…. and tries even harder not to let the harsh words of impolite others hurt her too much. But if this was a TV crime drama she brings the geek / eccentricity – like Abby in NCIS or Penelope in Criminal Minds.
Poe is a decent cop. He knows he made mistakes and has happily faced up to them. He’s not afraid of bending, twisting and well… breaking the rules but conscious of who he takes down with him. Which makes him a nice bloke in my book.
The series of murders in this novel take place in Cumbria and Craven offers us such a vivid sense of place – had I not already kinda (almost) planned my England holiday in August I’d think about adjusting my itinerary. He knows the area well, providing a lot of texture as well as context about stone circles and historical / ceremonial rituals and the like.
Be warned, it gets kinda gross in parts and Craven holds little back in describing the macabre murders.
Ultimately Poe doggedly follows the clues into an investigation which touches on a few popular themes – that I can’t comment on lest I offer up some spoilers – but there’s some ‘method’ or at least ‘reason’ in the killer’s madness. Kinda.
I very much enjoyed this novel and was excited to see it’s labelled officially by Goodreads as Washington Poe #1, cos that means there’ll be more!
(3.5 – 4 star read from me – which is a good score!)
The Puppet Show by MW Craven was published in Australia by Hachette and is now available.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.