Black Summer by MW Craven @MWCravenUK @LittleBrownUK #review

Today I am delighted to share my thoughts on Black Summer by MW Craven. Last year, on my way to Harrogate, I started to listen to the audiobook of The Puppet Show, book one in the Washington Poe series. If you want to know what I thought about it you can read my review here. If you’d like the abridged version – I loved it. Dark twisted and full of great characters and good humour, it was one hell of a read. Before I tell you how Black Summer measured up, here’s what the book is about:

Source: Netgalley

About the Book

After The Puppet Show, a new storm is coming . . .

Jared Keaton, chef to the stars. Charming. Charismatic. Psychopath . . . He’s currently serving a life sentence for the brutal murder of his daughter, Elizabeth. Her body was never found and Keaton was convicted largely on the testimony of Detective Sergeant Washington Poe.

So when a young woman staggers into a remote police station with irrefutable evidence that she is Elizabeth Keaton, Poe finds himself on the wrong end of an investigation, one that could cost him much more than his career.

Helped by the only person he trusts, the brilliant but socially awkward Tilly Bradshaw, Poe races to answer the only question that matters: how can someone be both dead and alive at the same time?

And then Elizabeth goes missing again – and all paths of investigation lead back to Poe.

Available from: Amazon | Waterstones | Kobo | Googleplay | Apple Books

My Thoughts

I have been looking forward to reading Black Summer for a while. It was one of my hotly anticipated reads for 2019. I have the special edition on order from Goldsboro Books. It was one of the three books that I read in a single weekend and I did not disappoint. Everything its predecessor was, but with even further established characters and an equally brilliant plot, this is going to be a runaway success.

This time around Poe finds himself one hundred percent in the firing line as an old case comes back to haunt him. Well … less haunt him as much as potentially ruin his entire life. Absolutely convinced of the guilt of celebrity chef, Jared Keaton, in the disappearance and suspected murder of his own daughter, Poe pursues his suspect to the expense of any other leads. But when someone claiming to be Keaton’s daughter turns up at a community policing desk, could it be that Poe got everything horribly, horribly wrong all those years ago?

What I love about this book is that the author has taken a very viable subject, the potential miscarriage of justice and incarceration of an innocent man, and woven it into a story that is full of misdirection, suspicion, manipulation and, quite honestly, a touch of the macabre. I mean, think about it. All the ways that a professional kitchen could be used to dispatch a victim … assuming, that is, that there ever was a victim and that it wasn’t all some very elaborate hoax.

I won’t lie. I did kind of guess quite early on what had happened and how, perhaps because I watch far too many crime shows on TV, have an overwhelmingly suspicious and twisted mind and an inability to trust others, but it was still a kind of blend of ewwww and cool, accompanied by a Muttley-esque laugh when my suspicions were confirmed.

A word to the wise though. This book is addictive. I sat down with it a little after one in the afternoon and, barring a short break for my dinner, didn’t move until I had finished just before eight. Why? What made it so ‘unputdownable’ that I was willing to develop numbness of the gluteus maximus to finish it? Well it was a combination of things really.

1) The pacing and setting. Absolutely spot on. Against the backdrop of the start Cumbrian countryside around Shap, and with storms rolling in, it made the perfect metaphor and the perfect build to the dramatic conclusion of the story.

2) The storyline. In spite of guessing to a degree where it was heading, it still had me hooked from the off. How could someone be both dead and alive? And it this was a set up, how could a man incarcerated for seven years pull off something so extravagant and cunning and why?

3) The most important part of all – the characters. Poe and Tilly. A combination so oddball, so mismatched, that they absolutely should not work but one hundred percent do. They are perfectly in tune in spite of having nothing in common and you know they would do literally anything for each other. Poe is gruff and straight talking. A no nonsense guy. Tilly is no nonsense as well, but largely because she doesn’t understand it. Her brain operates on a completely different spectrum to her colleagues and you wouldn’t have it any other way.

So in case you haven’t guess, the book comes highly recommended from me. It’s not as gory perhaps as the predecessor. The violence, while there, is less gratuitous or graphic so if you were looking for the same kind of book, you may be disappointed. But if you like brilliant characters, compelling plot lines and brilliant storytelling you are in absolutely the right place. Go get it. you know you want to.

About the Author

M. W. Craven was born in Carlisle but grew up in Newcastle. He joined the army at sixteen, leaving ten years later to complete a social work degree. Seventeen years after taking up a probation officer role in Cumbria, at the rank of assistant chief officer, he became a full-time author. The Puppet Show, the first in a two-book deal he signed with the Little, Brown imprint, Constable in 2017, was released in hardback in June 2018. 

Website: mwcraven.com
Twitter:
@MWCravenUK

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