Black Summer (Washington Poe #2) by M W Craven | Blog Tour Review #BlackSummer #TeamTilly

Paperback published by Constable (12 December 2019)
Available in ebook, hardback and paperback
416 pages
Source: My own purchased copy


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.

The gripping new thriller in the Washington Poe series from M. W. Craven, winner of the CWA Gold Dagger Award for best crime novel of 2019.


Having read and loved The Puppet Show at the beginning of the year, I bought the second in the series, Black Summer as soon as it was released in hardback with every intention of reading it straight away – *ahem! 😳 Being invited on the blog tour for the paperback release (thanks Mike and Beth) was the ideal opportunity to finally do so, and once I started, I raced through it as I knew I would.

DS Washington Poe finds himself in trouble when a young woman turns up at a library police desk claiming to be Elizabeth Keaton, daughter of Jared Keaton, a charming but dangerous local celebrity chef and Michelin star restauranteur, famous for his unpredictable temper as much as his cooking. Jared is currently serving a life sentence in prison for Elizabeth’s murder six years previously and Poe’s evidence was largely responsible for his conviction even though her body was never discovered. With this new revelation Jared could be freed and Poe’s career could be in ruins.

The story begins with a scene in Jared’s restaurant that almost made me gag (I bet you wouldn’t see that on Masterchef!) and then goes back 2 weeks to when the whole tale kicks off and a woman returns from the dead.

If you haven’t read The Puppet Show and haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Washington Poe and in particular, analyst Tilly (Matilda) Bradshaw, then you are seriously missing out. These two characters are a wonderful creation, especially Tilly, who really comes into her own in this second story. She is still rather socially awkward and takes everything too literally, but she now heads up her own team of like minded souls in the Serious Crime Analysis Section known internally as ‘the Mole People’. With Tilly’s brilliant mind and IT skills you know that if she has Poe’s back, he couldn’t have anyone better on his side. The interaction between these two is just so well executed – having a scene containing the two of them is a joy, particularly with Tilly’s inappropriate comments.

With DI Stephanie Flynn again returning as Poe’s immediate superior, she is as exasperated as ever by his maverick attitude and his dislike of obeying instructions. If Poe is to have any chance of finding out exactly what is going on and clearing his name, he needs to do things his way – which unfortunately is not always the official one!

The Cumbrian landscape is again the setting for Black Summer – the isolation and unpredictability of both location and atmospheric conditions seemingly mirroring the current status of Poe’s own life. With few around him he can trust except for his faithful hound Edgar and of course Tilly, he is up against the clock to keep both his freedom and his career.

If you wondered how the author was going to top The Puppet Show, then Black Summer is, in my opinion, even better. It’s not as gory but it is just as chilling with a fabulously complex and twisted plot that really will leave you scratching you head wondering what on earth is happening. With Poe and the team totally mystified, it makes for an exciting and intriguing read watching them trying to figure everything out. Of course it’s not just about the plot but the characters too and there are so many very strong ones here – even those secondary to the story.

I don’t think I need to say that I loved it. Roll on book 3.


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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