The Puppet Show (Washington Poe #1) by M.W. Craven @MWCravenUK @LittleBrownUK

The Puppet Show

Author: M.W. Craven

Release Date: June 7th 2018

Publisher: Constable

Genre: Crime/Thriller

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐


Book Depository| Waterstones| Wordery|


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… 

Absolutely mind- blowing.  This book can only be described as feeling like your head is spinning clean off your head.  Craven is for sure one to watch.

The synopsis is what first grabbed my attention.  When I’m truly in the mood for a crime novel, I have a list of things that I need to have in the storyline.  Serial Killers ✔️ a cantankerous detective ✔️ an absolutely amazing double-act ✔️ and a creepy as hell series of murders to solve – ✔️ oh hell yes.  Craven was on to a winner with that formula for sure!  Trust me, this is going to be one book you aren’t going to want to bypass. 

The Immolation man is the killer featured in The Puppet Show.  He is the master of gruesome and almost ritualistic like killings. His victims are found tied to stone circles and burned alive.  Each killing isn’t exactly identical but there is a few certainties in each killing – Stone Circle location for killing, burning of body and another really quite unfortunate part of the ritual – I’ll let you all have the pleasure of reading about that!  The story takes place in Cumbria and apart from being known for its beautiful rolling landscapes, it is also known for its stone circles – is there a deeper connection for the location or is its pure coincidence? 

I was reading the passages of text when the bodies were discovered, and I just couldn’t help but cringe at how that would be a terrifying way to go out.  Give me good old dying in my sleep any day of the week.  The forensic way the Craven described how the body would have been after being burned was fascinating.  Yeah, I know what your thinking! How can she find that fascinating? It is, in a warped sense I want to know what the bodies would have looked/smelled like.  Craven satiated my urge to have that visual picture as well as the smell of it. 

The character building of the world Craven has created is off the scales.  Craven is the puppet master.  The characters are multi-faceted, and 3-D and I loved the complexity and flaws that he brought alive with each character.  We have Washington Poe and his dog Edgar (I do hope the connection to Edgar Allan Poe is a genuine one and not just me and my wishful thinking!)  Washington Poe has many flaws, but he is not afraid to do what he thinks is right, no matter whose feathers he ruffles.  He’s strong and capable but has a dark side too – hope we see more of this in future books.  We have the other half of the amazing duo – Analyst, Tilly.  My god, she is my spirit animal.  Socially awkward but out of this world crazily intelligent, think of a combination of Einstein and Hawkins.  The shit she can come up with, mind blown.  They couldn’t be any different from each other but somehow, they work and work well together. 

The world building was fantastical.  Cumbria is one of my favourite counties.  As a budding landscape photographer, you just can’t beat the rolling hills and atmospheric surroundings to get lost in.  Craven captured that for me and then some.  The fog, desolateness gave us a visual of a sinister place for murder.  You could never be sure if someone was going to jump out at you from the moors or sneak in amongst the cumbrian fog.  It was GOOD.  This was the perfect scene for murder – if ever there was a perfect scene.

I was in rapt attention as I read The Puppet Show.  This is proper edge of your seat stuff folks.  I inhaled this book like it was my last supper.  The pacing is phenomenally fast, I was at risk of developing whiplash.  The clues and the plot just kept on developing and there are twists that you don’t see coming.  This is no simple cut and dried murder mystery.  There are themes so dark and depraved you don’t know what is good or bad anymore.  The unmasking of The Immolation man is definitely one worth waiting for. 

Craven is going to be one of those authors for me that I will read anything that he writes.  I will literally hand over every pound I had to read another of his books.  Reading his books is effortless, Craven’s done all the work and we get to enjoy the fruits of his labour.  There is so much to enjoy and take away from this story and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys crime/procedurals and thrillers.  It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

He who seeks vengeance must dig two graves; one for his enemy and one for himself.  

10 thoughts on “The Puppet Show (Washington Poe #1) by M.W. Craven @MWCravenUK @LittleBrownUK

  1. This sounds alot like the t.v. show Bones in a way. It does sound interesting but I’m not for sure if it’s my kind of book. I love crime shows and stuff like that but I would love to see a crime or thriller one like this without thr main characters being the investigators. I’m sure there are plenty but I just can’t think of any at the moment. But overall this was a great review and I’m in love with the cover for this book!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I usually love thrillers, but when there are crimes I find it difficult to follow, even so, maybe I try this one because sounds incredible and I love that you mentioned it’s creepy because that’s my favorite thing 😊
    Amazing review and I’m glad you enjoyed it 💕

    Liked by 1 person

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