- The Puppet Show (Washington Poe #1).
- M. W. Craven.
- 352 pages.
- Crime / Thriller / Mystery / Fiction.
- My Rating: Hell Yeah Book Review.
Welcome to the Puppet Show . . .
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…
The blurb for does a great job of outlining the story told by Craven without going into excess detail. In my opinion, if the blurb entices and intrigues you then, The Puppet Show will blow you away.
The killer in The Puppet Show is called ‘The Immolation Man‘ as he kills his victims in a grisly and gruesome way, burning them alive in rituals at stone circles located throughout Cumbria. It’s a horrific way to go, burned alive, charred to a blackened and crispy husk with your own fruits, your banana and plumbs lopped off and used as a gag to stop you from screaming! Ouch!😱 Yes, depending on their size that could sure be a mouthful!
Craven pulls the strings and his characters are the marionettes on the macabre merry-go-round that is The Puppet Show. Washington (yes, it’s a weird name but there is a very interesting reason behind it that is revealed in the book and adds another dimension to the character and his history) Poe and analyst Tilly Bradshaw are a fantastic duo, they are like chalk and cheese, night and day, light (Tilly) and dark (Poe) so different but they work surprisingly well together and make for a formidable pairing.
Poe has a no-nonsense approach to his work, his goal is justice and he doesn’t care whose toes he steps on in his pursuit of the truth. He is flawed, hardened, tough, takes no shit from anyone and has a ‘don’t fuck with me‘ attitude and is instantly likeable. Tilly, on the other hand, is his polar opposite, innocent and naive having led an extremely sheltered life. Tilly is clever, very clever with an astronomically high IQ and she makes nerds cool. She is also the best analyst at the NCA but she lacks communication skills and is socially awkward and due to this, an outcast. However, those traits and quirks are what make her endearing to the reader. I had such love for Tilly as a character and seeing her flourish and come out of her shell during the investigation with Poe as they bond warms the heart and is a highlight of the book.
I loved the atmospheric setting of Cumbria, the surrounding area and especially Herdwick Croft, Poe’s isolated home where he resides in solitude amongst acres of land, along with his dog, the Springer Spaniel, Edgar (yes, he is called Poe, his dog Edgar and, well, that’s living the dream folks, away from people and the wider world with a canine companion).
As the investigation in The Puppet Show unfolds it deals with some disturbing themes. Leading down some dark avenues and unsettling roads as secrets are revealed and the sins of the past come back to haunt those involved. There are plenty of twists and unexpected turns in The Puppet Show, the story radiates tension throughout and I was kept guessing about the identity of the Immolation Man until it was revealed.
Craven’s writing is straightforward, to the point and draws you in. He incorporates a blackly dry humour, gives you characters to care about and keeps the story flowing. Add in the perfect mix of character development, investigation and storytelling and The Puppet Show is a highly gripping read.
I like my thrillers to be dark, entertaining, laced with humour and twisted, no sunshine, fluffiness and rainbows for me. I dwell in the shadows, thrive on the blackness and The Puppet Show ticked all of those boxes and fitted the bill perfectly giving me a darkly enthralling and gloriously gruesome read.
Purchase The Puppet Show (Washington Poe #1).
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