I haven’t hidden how much I love the Poe and Tilly series by M.W. Craven. I love the blend of dark crime and humour and the absolutely superb characters who inhabit the novels. Mandie started listening to the audiobook with me many years ago, but never finished the story … until now. You can read my thoughts here, but read on to find out what Mandie thought of her first full length Poe and Tilly read.. Here’s what the book’s about:
About the Book
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 …
Find out why everyone loves The Puppet Show
I have read a couple of short stories by M.W. Craven, so I had already been introduced to Washington Poe and although I got a taste of his character it wasn’t until I picked up The Puppet Show that I got to appreciate just how good a character he was and how much I was going to enjoy this book.
When bodies are being found burned in the middle of prehistoric stone circles at various locations in the Lake District there does not appear to be any connection between the victims. When the third body is discovered with the name Washington Poe carved into it, the National Crime Agency feel they have little choice but to make contact with the former Detective Inspector and return him to active duty to see if he could shed any light onto why his name was on the victim. With his former DS now his DI there were those that thought having Poe back on the job and involved in the investigation was a bad idea but that just made him all the more determined to find out who was trying to get his attention and why. Partnering up with Matilda (Tilly) Bradshaw a criminal analyst he is determined to use any means available to him to dig into the lives of the victims and find out why they had been targeted.
The partnership between Poe and Tilly is one of pure genius. They are complete polar opposites yet somehow they just work. So many times Poe’s humour and sarcasm washes straight over Tilly’s head as she lives in the world of statistics where everything is black and white, yet despite this they forge a real friendship where once or twice his way of dealing with those who ridicule and abuse Tilly would have most HR’s running for their procedures but had me smiling and wishing that I could get away with his man management style every now and then. As the book progresses you can also see how she is being brought out of her shell the more time she spends out in the field following the clues along side Poe.
As for the investigation itself, I found that I was getting drawn further and further in as Poe began to work out the links between the victims and the reason behind the vicious way in which they were killed, and it is truly heart-breaking when it is revealed. As Poe pieces the clues together and eventually works out who is behind the attacks it was certainly something I was not expecting but it also made sense as to why his name was carved on one of the victims. The Puppet Show is an absolute cracker of a book and as I am so late to the party I cant wait to get stuck into the next 4 books in the series so that I can see what Poe and Tilly get drawn into next.
About the Author
M. W. Craven was born in Carlisle but grew up in Newcastle, returning after 31 years 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.
His first novel featuring Washington Poe and Tilly Bradshaw, The Puppet Show, was published by Constable to huge acclaim, and it has since won the CWA Gold Dagger Award and been shortlisted for the Amazon Publishing Readers’ Awards: Best Crime Novel, the Goldsboro Glass Bell Award and the Dead Good Reader Awards.
M. W. Craven lives in Carlisle with his wife, Joanne. When he isn’t out with his springer spaniel, or talking nonsense in the pub, he can usually be found at punk gigs and writing festivals up and down the country.
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