Today I’m sharing my thoughts on Cut Short, the collection of Washington Poe and Tilly Bradshaw short stories by M.W. Craven. I love the Washington Poe series and so these made a perfect little gap filler in between full length novels. Advance warning though – there is a vague link to the dreaded ‘virus’ although only in a roundabout way. Here’s what it’s all about:
About the Book
In The Killing Field, Poe and Tilly are having breakfast, wondering how to spend the rest of their holiday, when their presence is requested at a Cumbrian airfield. An airfield that, during the 2001 foot and mouth crisis, was known as the killing field . . .
In Why Don’t Sheep Shrink?, a global pandemic forces Poe and Tilly to self-isolate together. Things don’t go well. They’re bickering and on the verge of falling out until Poe finds an old case file: a locked room mystery he’s been mulling over for years. Step forward, Tilly Bradshaw . . .
Dead Man’s Fingers sees Poe, Tilly and Edgar, Poe’s English springer spaniel, enjoying a picnic at a nature reserve. When Edgar chases a rabbit, and Poe and Tilly chase after him, they stumble upon a twenty-year-old mystery, a mystery that couldn’t be solved until now . . .
Writing a review of a set of short stories is possibly one of the hardest things I ever have to do. You’d think it would be easy, but it’s not. I can’t say much about the plot of each story – the blurb tells you all you need to know and anything more would go beyond spoilers into ‘you don’t really need to read it any more’ territory. Gah!
What do you need to know about this book? Well – the most important thing to note is that these are very much Poe and Tilly stories – they kind of stand apart from the usual team investigation and although on the periphery in one case, are very much about the dynamic between the pair of them. Even though they are only short and sweet, they are still packed with mystery, humour and the camaraderie between the pair that we have come to know and love in the full length novels. Even though they are probably one of literature’s least conventional pairings, these two really work and if you love them, you are going to love these shorts. I only wish there were more.
Each story poses the pair its own puzzle, one for Tilly to relish solving, even if sometimes it is Poe’s innate understanding of the history of the area and its inhabitants that leads to the final revelation. between Tilly’s logic and poe’s instinct, there is nowhere to hide if you are on the wrong side of the law, and with a combination of just desserts and poignancy, M.W. Craven serves up three very different stories that will keep you amused and entertained in those quiet moments. Fully recommended.
About the Author
M. W. Craven was born in Carlisle but grew up in Newcastle, running away to join the army at the tender age of sixteen. He spent the next ten years travelling the world having fun, leaving in 1995 to complete a degree in social work with specialisms in criminology and substance misuse. Thirty-one years after leaving Cumbria, he returned to take up a probation officer position in Whitehaven, eventually working his way up to chief officer grade. Sixteen years later he took the plunge, accepted redundancy and became a full-time author. He now has entirely different motivations for trying to get inside the minds of criminals . . .
The Puppet Show, the first in a two-book deal he signed with the Little, Brown imprint, Constable in 2017, was released to critical acclaim in hardback in 2018. It has been sold in numerous foreign territories and the production company Studio Lambert, creators of the award-winning Three Girls, have optioned it for TV. The sequel, Black Summer, follows in June 2019.
M. W. Craven is married and lives in Carlisle with his wife, Joanne. When he isn’t out with his springer spaniel, or talking nonsense in the pub, he can be found at punk gigs and writing festivals up and down the country.