My enormous thanks to M.W. Craven for arranging to send me a copy of The Puppet Show in return for an honest review.
The Puppet Show is published by Little Brown imprint Constable and is available for purchase through these links.
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 …
My Review of The Puppet Show
A man burns to death in the centre of a stone circle in Cumbria and an investigation will follow.
My goodness me. What a book! From the incredibly dramatic opening to the final word I was entirely gripped by M. W. Craven’s writing. It’s going to be difficult not to slip into hyperbole to describe my thoughts about The Puppet Show.
Firstly, the plot is not so much fast paced as supersonic. It’s like quicksilver so that just when you think you have it all worked out M. W. Craven twists what’s happening in such an effective and credible manner that it’s breathtaking. My heart was thumping as I read The Puppet Show. It’s one of those books that kept making me exclaim aloud, ‘Ooo.’ Usually I’m not overly fond of police procedural narratives, but this one had me gripped throughout, partly because there is an intelligent and compelling psychological aspect to it too and partly because the fabulous plot is so brilliantly character driven.
Washington Poe is wonderfully generated. Part of his past is uncovered and The Puppet Show provides fertile ground for his future so that, having read this first book in the series I am now desperate for the next. Poe is an anti-hero without the stereotyping that often puts me off this kind of book. He has his daemons but they do not dominate excessively. He has integrity but isn’t afraid to break the rules – and vice versa. I found Poe such an engaging character that I was filled with admiration for the writing and the man, Poe. I loved the developing working relationship he has with Tilly who is herself a glorious individual. On the autistic spectrum she is the perfect balance to Poe’s creative thinking.
And Tilly exemplifies one of the reasons I enjoyed The Puppet Show so much – M. W. Craven appears to have a social conscience that he can weave unobtrusively into his story so that the reader thinks and is engaged almost without their own permission. I thought this element was fabulous. I found the overall quality of M. W. Craven’s writing fantastic so that reading The Puppet Show was effortless and compelling.
The Cumbrian setting works beautifully too because it lends a credibility and authenticity to the events. I found the whole book amazingly authentic. The procedures, the social elements, the settings, the characters and so on are all superb, but they add up to a wonderful, wonderful read. In fact, I’m finding it hard to convey just how much I enjoyed The Puppet Show. Quite simply, I want to look at the thesaurus synonyms for brilliant and list them all. I can’t wait for the next book in the Washington Poe series and if you haven’t yet read The Puppet Show, my goodness are you missing out!
About M. W. Craven
W. Craven was born in Carlisle but grew up in Newcastle. He joined the army at sixteen, leaving ten years later to complete a social work degree. Seventeen years after taking up a probation officer role in Cumbria, at the rank of assistant chief officer, he became a full-time author. The Puppet Show, the first in a two-book deal he signed with the Little Brown imprint, Constable in 2017, was released in hardback in June 2018.