The Puppet Show by M W Craven | Book Review #ThePuppetShow

Published by Constable/Little Brown
ebook (7 June 2018) | paperback (24 January 2019)
368 pages
Source: Paperback copy received from publisher

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 …

My Thoughts

Well. Wow. What a fantastic read this is. The chilling prologue sets the scene for the rest of the story. Someone is targeting men and burning them alive in stone circles in Cumbria. Who, what and why – disgraced detective Washington Poe is tasked to find out.

Washington Poe. Such a great character. On suspension from the Serious Crime Analysis Section for his mistakes made in a previous case, he has relocated to Cumbria and lives a solitary life. That is until he is visited by DI Stephanie Flynn and ‘persuaded’ to rejoin the team, this time working as her DS instead of the other way round. Poe is a complex character. He’s a maverick and follows his instincts to get the evidence, even if it means ignoring orders or finding a way around them but he also has an acute desire for justice – which has got him into trouble before.

Helping Poe is civilian analyst Tilly Bradshaw. Shy, extremely unwordly and with no social skills or filter whatsoever, Tilly and Poe seem to connect and what she lacks in people skills, she makes up for with her data programming skills and her ability to solve complex analytical problems in a heartbeat.

The Immolation Man, as he becomes known is a serial killer like no other. He leave no clues and the team face a race against time before he claims another victim.

My review can’t do justice to this book. Everything about it ticked every box for me. The story never lets up in tension and had me biting my fingernails more than a few times. I’m sure that hardcore crime fans will love this one – there are some parts that are especially gruesome and graphic – its perhaps not quite so suited for the faint hearted!

It sounds a cliche to say that I didn’t want to put the book down but I absolutely didn’t. I raced through it, devouring each page. Tilly and Poe are my new book heroes. They are both so different but work so well together – whenever Poe stood up for Tilly when she was being picked on I actually got a lump in my throat.

As you would expect in a thriller there are surprises, but I was completely blindsided by the final reveal leading to a tense and dramatic conclusion.

I loved so much about The Puppet Show. The suspenseful and cleverly constructed plot, the characters, the dry humour – I can’t wait for ‘Black Summer’, the second book in the series to be published this summer.

My thanks to the author and Beth of Little Brown for the paperback copy to review and the opportunity to take part in the blog tour.

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.

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