counter create hit The Puppet Show - Download Free eBook
Ads Banner
Hot Best Seller

The Puppet Show

Availability: Ready to download

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 soci 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...


Compare
Ads Banner

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 soci 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...

30 review for The Puppet Show

  1. 4 out of 5

    Paromjit

    You can always tell if a piece of crime fiction is special and MW Craven's debut marks the arrival of a gifted and natural crime writer with a bright future ahead of him. Set in the sparsely populated Cumbria with its numerous stone circles, Washington Poe, has settled into and fixing up his recently acquired croft, suspended as a DI in the National Crime Agency after being mired in scandal in his last case. He has no intention of returning to his job, but his name has been found carved in the b You can always tell if a piece of crime fiction is special and MW Craven's debut marks the arrival of a gifted and natural crime writer with a bright future ahead of him. Set in the sparsely populated Cumbria with its numerous stone circles, Washington Poe, has settled into and fixing up his recently acquired croft, suspended as a DI in the National Crime Agency after being mired in scandal in his last case. He has no intention of returning to his job, but his name has been found carved in the burnt body of the latest victim of the serial killer dubbed 'The Immolation Man' by the media along with the number 5. DI Stephanie Flynn, the woman who replaced him, and the NCA want him back working the case. Overcoming his initial reluctance, he cannot resist trying to find out why the killer is targeting him, and returns to the NCA. He is demoted to DS, working under Flynn, and partnered with SCAS crime analyst, Tilly Bradshaw. One of the main highlights of the novel is Tilly, an Asperger's afflicted young woman, the best analyst in the NCA. She has 2 PhDs from Oxford, with remarkable abilities when it comes to statistics, data, computer skills and programming, pattern recognition and more. She is naive, innocent, having been sheltered from the world, takes everything literally, has problems adapting to situations and is targeted by bullies. Tilly is shunned, obsessive, a gaming aficionado, has the habit of saying the unexpected, unaware it may be unacceptable, breaking social norms and expectations on a continual basis. Watching her relationship develop with Poe is a true joy, both poignant and comic, she becomes considerably more resilient, coming out of her shell as she and Poe bond. Poe is unmanageable from the point of view of his superiors, relentless as he pursues the killer, ignoring the obstacles and people standing in his way in his search for the truth. He has some very dark corners within his personality that make him a compelling and charismatic central character. This is a novel that takes in the worst that humanity can do, a killer that has spent years planning his revenge on those complicit in not only destroying his life, but those of others. You cannot help but feel for the killer, facing insurmountable problems when it comes to getting redress through the corrupt judicial system and up against powerful forces intent on preventing the truth emerging. Poe is shocked to discover just how personally close to him the case emerges to be. Everything about the novel is brilliant, the twists, the plotting is exceptional and I am hoping we see the return of Poe and Tilly as soon as possible. This is a superb, entertaining, full of twists and tension, an utterly mesmerising thriller that I recommend highly! You will be missing out if you do not read this. Many thanks to Little, Brown for an ARC.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Peter

    Vengeance The Puppet Show is a fascinatingly dark serial killer hunt that is packed with intrigue, subterfuge, vengeance, and characters that provide such enthralling dynamics that make this a truly outstanding thriller. A brilliant read. Washington Poe is an ex-Detective Inspector with the Serious Crime Unit and is currently serving a suspension pending an enquiry into how he let confidential police documents fall into the hands of a victim’s family enabling them to take their own revenge. Poe is Vengeance The Puppet Show is a fascinatingly dark serial killer hunt that is packed with intrigue, subterfuge, vengeance, and characters that provide such enthralling dynamics that make this a truly outstanding thriller. A brilliant read. Washington Poe is an ex-Detective Inspector with the Serious Crime Unit and is currently serving a suspension pending an enquiry into how he let confidential police documents fall into the hands of a victim’s family enabling them to take their own revenge. Poe is a highly driven person with an acute radar for injustice and often unreserved in how he would dispense retribution. There is a dark streak in his personality and he will forcefully jump to the defence of an abused colleague and be intolerant with those he disrespects or gets in his road, regardless of position. I read a post online suggesting that if it went to TV the perfect actor to play his part would be Idris Elba – I totally agree. Tilly Bradshaw works for the NCA as a data analyst and is quite the genius with numbers and data patterns. She lives with a personality disorder on the autism spectrum, and Mike Craven has drawn this wonderful innocent character that we really care for. In her own way, she is very determined and strong willed but appears fragile with her naive and soft demeanour. DI Stephanie Flynn has temporarily replaced Poe within the NCA and is performing as a capable, methodical and reliable boss that knows how to maintain police protocol. This is the important balance against the undisciplined activities of Poe and as a DI provides a much better stabilising and cohesive influence on the team. The latest victim of the ‘Immolation Man’ has Poe’s name carved onto his chest, thereby pressuring the NCA to return Poe to the force and assist in solving the murders. Each victim of the Immolation Man is found burned to death within a stone circle in the Cumbria region. There is a modus operandi: a significance of the stone circles, a method of murder, a disfiguration, and they are all elderly men. The victims don’t seem to be selected at random but who is seeking revenge and for what. To find the connection requires Tilly and Poe to utilise their unique talents, especially in the face of a plot that is full of surprises and a revealing link to a set of crimes from the past. Poe is reminded of the Chinese proverb “He who seeks vengeance must dig two graves: one for his enemy and one for himself.” Mike Craven is a very talented writer that has created a debut novel and start of a series, with extremely appealing characters that readers will thoroughly invest in. His craft of the plot is captivating with layers of mystery and suspense that are totally engrossing. The additional elements of humour and colleague conflict are very entertaining but not overplayed, and the remote landscapes of Cumbria are vividly drawn. I do feel fortunate that I've picked up on this series from the beginning. I would rate the book very highly and would have no hesitation in recommending to anyone that enjoys the murder/crime/mystery/thriller genre. I would like to thank Little Brown Book Group for a copy of the book in return for an honest review.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    Washington Poe! Remember his name! Tilly Bradshaw Remember her name! These are the lead characters in this superb thriller, I have to admit it took me a few chapters to ‘get’ them both but when I did I REALLY did Washington is a at times a reckless cop with a past and Tilly a phenomenal data analyst ( who speaks and answers literally as she thinks but is bullied at her police job for it ) Together they embark on finding out who is literally burning men to death in Cumbria, there is no motive, no clue Washington Poe! Remember his name! Tilly Bradshaw Remember her name! These are the lead characters in this superb thriller, I have to admit it took me a few chapters to ‘get’ them both but when I did I REALLY did Washington is a at times a reckless cop with a past and Tilly a phenomenal data analyst ( who speaks and answers literally as she thinks but is bullied at her police job for it ) Together they embark on finding out who is literally burning men to death in Cumbria, there is no motive, no clues and nothing to go on....until this pair get started...... and what a team they make, non conformist and determined they have to fight to get to the truth I loved the way they worked together, Washington’s brashness and Tilly’s innocence worked fabulously together, the other characters fitted in and round them both but they, to me, were the draw The story itself is brutal, upsetting, at times graphic yet emotional and a whole host of issues are dealt with, with honesty, vigour and ( hard to explain ) but a gentleness that at times made a book about a serial killer quite moving, I know, I know but once you have read it you will understand! The descriptions of Cumbria are majestic and created a perfect mindset of images for the story and the police procedural aspects detailed yet fascinating The conclusion was great then got even better and then better again!!! I am really pleased this is Book 1 in the series and genuinely look forward to Book 2 and what the author does with Washington A book that will stay with you, guaranteed, its one you will want to tell someone about and get them to read it so you can share your thoughts etc Loved it! Has to be 10/10 5 Stars.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Melissa (Mel’s Bookshelf)

    THIS Ladies and Gentlemen, is how you write a good procedural thriller! WOW! I purchased The Puppet Show when I randomly saw it in Big W. I loved the cover. It wasn't until I got home and looked up the goodreads reviews that I began to get excited! Every one of my friends rated it a 4 or higher so I knew I was going to read something awesome. Absolutely the best police procedural I have read this year! In fact, I would put it as my second favourite start to a police thriller series of all time! THIS Ladies and Gentlemen, is how you write a good procedural thriller! WOW! I purchased The Puppet Show when I randomly saw it in Big W. I loved the cover. It wasn't until I got home and looked up the goodreads reviews that I began to get excited! Every one of my friends rated it a 4 or higher so I knew I was going to read something awesome. Absolutely the best police procedural I have read this year! In fact, I would put it as my second favourite start to a police thriller series of all time! Just behind Lacey Flint. Poe is brought back from suspension when a serial killer leaves his name carved into one of his victims chests. What a welcome back! Teamed up with socially awkward analyst Tilly, Poe has to find this serial killer, and discover why the killer used his name. Is he the next victim? Or is it something different? What does the killer want from him. WOWEE! When it started I thought "Yeah this will be ok", but then as I kept reading and getting immersed in the story and characters I began to really enjoy it and upped it to "Yeah this is going to be really good"... And then the action started, and there was twist after twist after twist! AMAZING!!! Yes I guessed who did it! Yes I am awesome! (or just read too many thrillers), but IT DIDNT MATTER!! Usually it does and I deduct stars because I enjoy being surprised. But even though I got it right THERE WERE STILL MORE TWISTS! I LOVE THAT! Just when you get cocky BAM there is another spanner in the works! And the characters! Loved all of them! Tilly and Poe just WORKED together! What a team! There was something really great about the writing and the atmosphere the author creates in this book. Although it sounds like it will be just another thriller, something about it makes it stand out. Maybe it is in the way the storyline moves, or the characters, I can't quite put my finger on it. It is just a really fabulous read! Would I recommend The Puppet Show? YES! If you enjoy thrillers pick this one up - it was great! I have no idea when he is going to write the next one, but I AM THERE!!!! I purchased The Puppet Show on a whim, at my own expense. For more reviews check out my: Blog Facebook Twitter Instagram

  5. 4 out of 5

    Ceecee

    Outstanding. DS Washington Poe returns to work for the NCA under a cloud having been suspended for a year following a mistake which led to a mans death. He’s been living in rural isolation in Cumbria. He returns to work to help the unit identity the Immolation Man who burns his victims. Washington is linked in some way to the killer. He works alongside DI Stephanie Flynn and Tilly Bradshaw of the Serious Crimes Analysis Section and what unfolds is gritty and gripping. There’s so much to admire i Outstanding. DS Washington Poe returns to work for the NCA under a cloud having been suspended for a year following a mistake which led to a mans death. He’s been living in rural isolation in Cumbria. He returns to work to help the unit identity the Immolation Man who burns his victims. Washington is linked in some way to the killer. He works alongside DI Stephanie Flynn and Tilly Bradshaw of the Serious Crimes Analysis Section and what unfolds is gritty and gripping. There’s so much to admire in this book. It’s very well written, the plot is excellent, it’s fast paced and full of surprises right to the very end. The setting in Cumbria is brilliant and the plot covers an area I know well which I like! However, it’s the characters that give this book the edge. Washington Poe is fascinating. He has a very strong sense of right and he doesn’t always go about this in the way you would expect, he’s very clever and intuitive and can rub the powers that be the wrong way but gets results. Tilly Bradshaw is fantastic and Poe really sees her and understands her many gifts. They made an unusual and compelling duo. Flynn is a great character too. Overall, I’m hooked and immediately going to read the follow up! Many thanks to my friend Paromjit for drawing my attention to this fantastic series.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn

    I was completely delighted and enthralled with this gritty, witty and complex police procedural. It is brilliantly plotted, and the characters have depth. It is set in the Lake District of Cumbria with its many stone circles. The award-winning book has gained high praise and did not disappoint. Washington Poe has been suspended from his position as DI after some confidential information about the identity of a man who murdered a young woman was in a file Poe handed to her father. He is in disgr I was completely delighted and enthralled with this gritty, witty and complex police procedural. It is brilliantly plotted, and the characters have depth. It is set in the Lake District of Cumbria with its many stone circles. The award-winning book has gained high praise and did not disappoint. Washington Poe has been suspended from his position as DI after some confidential information about the identity of a man who murdered a young woman was in a file Poe handed to her father. He is in disgrace and unpopular with most officers in the Serious Crime Unit and the National Crime Agency. He has been a relentless, intuitive detective with a reputation of being unmanageable. He has a history of breaking police rules and defying directives in his pursuit of criminals. He has an anger management problem which shows in some aggressive violence and in subverting police policy. Someone is burning victims within the stone circles. The first man was cruelly tortured and mutilated before being set afire. After a second was burned to death, and then a third whose body was beyond recognition, it was apparent a serial killer was about. Scientific analysis determined that Washington Poe’s name had been carved into the third victim’s chest along with the numeral 5. This causes Poe to think he may be doomed to be the 5th victim. The NCA is compelled to return Poe to the force to help solve the murders. There seems to be no connection between the murder victims, except they were all elderly men and wealthy. Poe has been content restoring an old Croft and living a solitary country life with his dog but reluctantly returns to work. Poe is working in partnership with Tilly Bradshaw, a highly educated(2 PHDs from Oxford) young woman with extraordinary skills in computer programming, statistics, and pattern analysis. She is highly functioning intellectually and has Asperger Syndrome. She lives a sheltered life with her mother, only leaving home to go to work. She is a literal thinker, has problems reading emotions, sarcasm and social cues. She lacks a filter for her thoughts, expressing whatever comes to mind. Tilly is frequently bullied. Poe has one friend, Reid, a colleague and an old childhood buddy. He feels a bond and compassion for this police officer. Poe becomes Tilly’s protector when she is faced with harassment. She shows fortitude and resilience. They become friends, and their bond is enjoyable to read. Their partnership is compelling. To solve this case they find a decades-old connection. Poe disregards police protocol and is even dismissed again, but manipulates his way back into the investigation, and is assisted with his two friends, Tilly and Reid. This was a cleverly constructed plot, with many twists and unexpected revelations. The characters are wonderfully developed. I have already ordered the next book in the series and can’t wait to meet Washington Poe and Tilly Bradshaw again soon.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Lou

    There are three reasons why I requested this - firstly, the endorsements of Peter James and A.A. Dhand, both authors I love. Secondly, the cover, and finally, the synopsis appealed to me as it sounded pretty dark and gruesome. Everything about this book screamed that it was going to be a fantabulous rollercoaster ride! I appreciated the setting, the Lake District is not very far from my home. I know it can be a very desolate place, so it's ideal for a serial killer to use as his stalking ground, There are three reasons why I requested this - firstly, the endorsements of Peter James and A.A. Dhand, both authors I love. Secondly, the cover, and finally, the synopsis appealed to me as it sounded pretty dark and gruesome. Everything about this book screamed that it was going to be a fantabulous rollercoaster ride! I appreciated the setting, the Lake District is not very far from my home. I know it can be a very desolate place, so it's ideal for a serial killer to use as his stalking ground, so to speak. I am so pleased that this is a series opener, meaning there is much more to come from M. W. Craven, I will be following this series through to its conclusion if the rest are as amazing as this was. The 'Immolation Man' is a serial killer that burns his victims alive inside the stone circles of the Lake District. Washington Poe and his team are the ones tasked at stopping him claiming any more victims, but can they identify and locate him before he strikes again? Books that are gory and dark seem to call out to me, and this, my first read by Craven, certainly didn't disappoint. Craven's writing is fantastic and draws you into the story from the first couple of chapters, once it's got you, it refuses to let you go! The friendship between Tilly Bradshaw and Poe warmed my heart. I look forward to their relationship and characters developing throughout the series. I would like to thank M. W. Craven, Little, Brown Book Group and NetGalley for the opportunity to read an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jess☺️

    The Puppet Show by M.W. Craven Is the first book in the Washington Poe series and what a fantastic start it is . It's an addictive read which you won't want to put down, It's fast,dark, twisted with an ending you would never of guessed but will still keep you questioning after you've finished. There are plenty of laugh out loud moments especially when Washington Poe and Tilly Bradshaw are on the same page (I think we all need a Tilly Bradshaw for a friend 😉) it's also so very heartbreaking. For i The Puppet Show by M.W. Craven Is the first book in the Washington Poe series and what a fantastic start it is . It's an addictive read which you won't want to put down, It's fast,dark, twisted with an ending you would never of guessed but will still keep you questioning after you've finished. There are plenty of laugh out loud moments especially when Washington Poe and Tilly Bradshaw are on the same page (I think we all need a Tilly Bradshaw for a friend 😉) it's also so very heartbreaking. For it not being your normal police thriller but based on a specialist unit your not swamped with to much information about what the unit does but given just enough to understand which I found kept the story flowing easily. This book is a great first of a series which I would highly recommend.

  9. 5 out of 5

    NZLisaM

    This is how a Police Procedural should be done! Immolation [im-uh-ley-shuh-n] 1. To kill as a religious sacrifice. 2. To kill, especially by fire. There’s a serial murderer loose in North West England – dubbed the Immolation Man, he burns his victims alive, choosing one of Cumbria’s many stone circle monuments as his kill site. When a suspended, subject of an internal investigation, ex-Detective Inspector’s name, is discovered carved into the charred remains of the third victim’s chest, Washington Po This is how a Police Procedural should be done! Immolation [im-uh-ley-shuh-n] 1. To kill as a religious sacrifice. 2. To kill, especially by fire. There’s a serial murderer loose in North West England – dubbed the Immolation Man, he burns his victims alive, choosing one of Cumbria’s many stone circle monuments as his kill site. When a suspended, subject of an internal investigation, ex-Detective Inspector’s name, is discovered carved into the charred remains of the third victim’s chest, Washington Poe is reluctantly recalled to duty. With the clock ticking, and the body count rising, it’s a race against time to identify, and catch the killer. Holy crap, this one really broke the mould, and I couldn’t be more impressed. I’m not sure what wowed me more – the plot, characters, setting, dialogue, relationships – everything just gelled. Once I started reading, I couldn’t stop, and the last 150 pages saw me staying up until 2am to finish! With shocks and surprises at every turn there was no way I couldn’t. The two main characters, while complex and captivating, were admittedly somewhat clichéd. We have the disgraced, undisciplined ex-cop using unorthodox policing to solve the crime (Washington Poe) partnered with the extremely socially awkward, off-the-charts IQ, introverted, crime computer analyst (Tilly Bradshaw). Having said that, they are tropes that I’m all for, so no complaints here. By the end of the novel both had shown unique sides to their personalities to make them fresh and different. I also liked the fact that both Poe and Bradshaw displayed genuine sympathy and anguish towards the victims, and weren’t afraid to show it – they were shocked, saddened, angry, and even cried on a couple of occasions, making them all the more real, human and vulnerable. The developing friendship the two characters formed was another highlight – the way Poe and Bradshaw protected and looked out for each other, and the way they worked seamlessly together, was a delight to read unfold. Prologue aside, which I will talk about in a moment, and the first chapter, which is voiced by Bradshaw, the remainder of the story is told via Poe. All viewpoints are in the third person. Chapters are short, 2-4 pages, but that doesn’t matter, as I mentioned, you won’t be able to put the book down. The prologue, in the third victims POV as he’s about to be set alight, is pretty gruesome and horrible, and there’s also some pretty graphic descriptions of atrocities committed in other parts of the book, so it’s certainly not a cosy crime novel. The cover description is pretty much a given – ‘He pulls their strings. He watches them burn. Welcome to The Puppet Show’. If you’ve read any of the following authors – Karin Slaughter, Tami Hoag, Lisa Gardner, Karen Rose or Tess Gerritsen – then you will be fine. Same goes for those who are regular reader of crime, horror, or fantasy. I’m very excited for the next instalment – not only because I can’t wait to revisit Poe and Bradshaw, but also because the last few chapters introduced a subplot, as well as opened a can of worms, that has me dying to find out what happens next. Book 2, Black Summer, is scheduled for release June 20, 2019. I will be counting down the days! Author has also published novels under the name Mike Craven, so I will definitely be checking out those books as well.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    Wow what a start!! You certainly got my attention. A man is set on fire to after first being tortured!! Washington Poe has been reinstated with the police to work on a case of finding the “Immolation Man” a serial killer that burns his victims inside stone circles at the Lake District. Washington is working with Tilly Bradshaw a data analyst, more used to being at her desk than a crime scenes. She is innocent and seems to be on the spectrum of being Autistic, lacking social skills but hardworking Wow what a start!! You certainly got my attention. A man is set on fire to after first being tortured!! Washington Poe has been reinstated with the police to work on a case of finding the “Immolation Man” a serial killer that burns his victims inside stone circles at the Lake District. Washington is working with Tilly Bradshaw a data analyst, more used to being at her desk than a crime scenes. She is innocent and seems to be on the spectrum of being Autistic, lacking social skills but hardworking and very determined. Washington and Tilly make a formidable team. This is going to be an amazing series I am so pleased that I’ve discovered this at book 1. A dark thriller with twists that will keep you well and truly hooked. Looking forward to the return of Poe and Tilly. Thank you to Netgalley for my copy in exchange for a review.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    Seeking a high-impact thriller, I was told to explore M.W. Craven’s new series, involving a rogue police detective with a penchant for finding the truth in all crimes. I am pleased that I did, for this series debut left me astounded and wanting to learn a little more about DS Washington Poe. The burning of a number of bodies would have been enough to alert the National Crime Agency (NCA) to a problem, but when one victim had the name of former Detective Inspector Washington Poe etched into the t Seeking a high-impact thriller, I was told to explore M.W. Craven’s new series, involving a rogue police detective with a penchant for finding the truth in all crimes. I am pleased that I did, for this series debut left me astounded and wanting to learn a little more about DS Washington Poe. The burning of a number of bodies would have been enough to alert the National Crime Agency (NCA) to a problem, but when one victim had the name of former Detective Inspector Washington Poe etched into the torso, the higher-ups knew they’d have to seek some assistance. Poe, on suspension for a major gaffe, is hesitant to assist, though his help with this serial killer is essential. Reinstated with a number of limitations, including a demotion to Detective Sergeant, Poe is put on the case and makes his way back up to Cumbria, where he cut his teeth on police work. Not only has the killer—dubbed Immolation Man—set fire to his male victims, but he has also castrated them and left them to burn in stone circles. Utilising a socially inept analyst, Poe and the rest of the team travel to the region and try tracing any connection between the victims. It is slow going, but certain clues point to events decades in the past. Might the Immolation Man have been plotting for all this time, seeking certain men who are pillars of the community? As Poe pushes, he irks many of those in the chain of command, earning him repeated scoldings, though he is more focussed on the case than any social niceties. When a connection does emerge, it opens a new and equally sadistic narrative that could turn the case on its head. How does Washington Poe play into all of this and will the killer strike again, before the authorities can intercept him and stop the burnings? Craven stuns readers with this compact thriller that refuses to slow down until the final page turn. Recommended for those who enjoy a detailed thriller and readers who need more than light and airy when reading a police procedural. While I had not read anything by M.W. Craven before, I will certainly change that in the coming months. Craven not only presents a wonderful story, but puts the reader in the middle of things, enveloping them in the darker sides of procedurals and making the narrative seem all the more detailed. Washington Poe is by no means a lighthearted character, though his grit and determination is offset by a desire to be sociable. He knows what needs doing and, at times and can extract all the information he needs by currying favour with those around him, though he is not against ignoring direct orders when it suits him. Poe may not have a significant backstory outside of work, but his dedication to the job and compassion for victims and their families is noted throughout the book. Craven does add an interesting explanation about the source of Poe’s name, which the attentive reader will discover. The other members of the National Crime Agency prove able to complement Poe and contrast nicely with all he does. The various personalities work well to keep the reader involved, without feeling that all work in unison in crime fighting. I can only hope at least a few characters return for Craven’s sequel in this series, as I do want to learn more about them and how they function as a ragtag group. The story was stellar, with strong plot lines and well-established characters to keep the reader interested. Layering criminal acts and retribution throughout the novel allows the reader to see a slow release of information that keeps the story from going stale at any point. I lost myself in the detail and found in all-encompassing at times, which left me wanting more. Thankfully, there is another novel in the series to keep me company, as I want nothing more than to dive right in and see what else Washington Poe has in store for the reader. Kudos, Mr. Craven, for this strong debut. I will be rushing to get my hands on the second book and eagerly awaiting the third, due in 2020. Love/hate the review? An ever-growing collection of others appears at: http://pecheyponderings.wordpress.com/ A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/...

  12. 5 out of 5

    Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede

    I'm so very pleased to say that The Puppet Show is a fabulous book! I had high hopes, and you know high hopes high falls, so I'm especially glad when I realized not only is the book engrossing to read, it features two new favorite characters Detective Washington Poe and very socially awkward civilian analyst Tilly Bradshaw. Oh, their working relationship makes me think of Ash Henderson and Alice McDonald in Stuart Mcbride's series about Ash Henderson. Poe and Tilly just click, and there are so m I'm so very pleased to say that The Puppet Show is a fabulous book! I had high hopes, and you know high hopes high falls, so I'm especially glad when I realized not only is the book engrossing to read, it features two new favorite characters Detective Washington Poe and very socially awkward civilian analyst Tilly Bradshaw. Oh, their working relationship makes me think of Ash Henderson and Alice McDonald in Stuart Mcbride's series about Ash Henderson. Poe and Tilly just click, and there are so many wonderful moments, both funny and more serious. Anyhow, this is a crime novel so of course, there is crime happening. In this case, brutal murders, with the emphasis on brutal. Yes, being a man reading about the mutilations must be hard. I love the setting of the story, I really get a rugged landscape before my eyes and those stone circles that have been there so long time that no one knows what they are for. Now they are used for human sacrifices and Poe has to figure out who is killing these men and why and the investigation starts to reveal hints that the answers lie in the past... The ending is great, I started to have my suspicions towards a certain person towards the end and I was one the right course. It was such a fabulous ending, at one moment I was afraid it would end with a cliffhanger, and in a way it did, but in a good way. The book ended with me feeling satisfied and eagerly awaiting the next book! I want to thank Little, Brown Book Group for providing me with a free copy through NetGalley for an honest review!

  13. 5 out of 5

    The Book Review Café

    There is nothing more satisfying than coming across a new crime series that sets the pulse racing. I read so many crime thrillers that I find it’s getting more difficult to find one that really excites me, but hells bells The Puppet Show by the very talented M.W. Craven blew my socks off! What a fabulous start to a “must read series”.I knew from the shocker of an opening chapter The Puppet Show was going to be an exhilarating and thrilling read, I loved this novel for so many reasons, with a gri There is nothing more satisfying than coming across a new crime series that sets the pulse racing. I read so many crime thrillers that I find it’s getting more difficult to find one that really excites me, but hells bells The Puppet Show by the very talented M.W. Craven blew my socks off! What a fabulous start to a “must read series”.I knew from the shocker of an opening chapter The Puppet Show was going to be an exhilarating and thrilling read, I loved this novel for so many reasons, with a gripping storyline and fabulous characters The Puppet Show has “best seller” written all over it. Dark and gruesome are my favourite kind of crime thrillers, (make of that what you will!) and The Puppet Show fits the bill perfectly. As serial killers go this ones pretty terrifying, burning people alive, carving into theit charred remains, the author certainly has a vivid imagination, and his descriptive writing help you to visualise the gruesome scenes. With no clues the police are helpless, and enlist the most unlikely pairing I’ve come across in crime fiction, Washington Poe (love this name for a detective, not one you will forget in a hurry) and socially awkward civilian analyst, Tilly Bradshaw. The stars of this book are definitely the characters, oh how I loved them, Tilly was like a breath of fresh air, her naivety and innocence contrast beautifully with Poe’s cynical views, their budding relationship was endearing, and the dialogue between the two offered lots of humour in what could have become a dark and depressing read (due to the difficult subject matter). M.W. Craven has created characters who are unique and engaging, and I would go as far to say they are probably two of the most exciting characters I’ve come across in a crime thriller for a long time. Rather like the investigation team the reader has no idea who the serial killer is, when the killer was revealed I’m sure my jaw hit the floor, I can honestly say “I didn’t even come close” to working out the killers identify. The author taunts the reader by throwing in titbits of Poe’s past, which I’m desperately hoping will be the focus of one of the books in the series, very intriguing to say the least. You may have noticed my review is vague but I’m hoping it’s piqued your interest, my advice? Just buy it, if you are a fan of crime thrillers then this is definitely one book you don’t want to miss. I’m already desperate to read the next book in the series, and have everything crossed that I don’t have to wait long. Highly recommended All my reviews can be found at http:;/thebookreviewcafe.com

  14. 4 out of 5

    Helga

    Interesting characters, clever plot, shocking revelations, gripping story set in North West England… You ask what else? First-rate writing! And the best part…there is going to be a second one! Poe and Tilly have easily become two of my favorite characters. “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” -Edmund Burke Making a horrible mistake in a previous case has put Detective Inspector Washington Poe on suspension. That is, until his name appears carved on a tor Interesting characters, clever plot, shocking revelations, gripping story set in North West England… You ask what else? First-rate writing! And the best part…there is going to be a second one! Poe and Tilly have easily become two of my favorite characters. “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” -Edmund Burke Making a horrible mistake in a previous case has put Detective Inspector Washington Poe on suspension. That is, until his name appears carved on a tortured and burnt body of an old man, the third victim in a series of macabre murders. Bodies are being burnt alive in stone circles in Cumbria and Poe has to race against time to find out why? Why has his name been carved on a victim? What is the motive? Who is the killer and who is going to be his next victim? I am waiting impatiently for the second book!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Lucy Langford

    4**** This was a fantastic introduction to an engaging investigative duo, genius Tilly Bradshaw and the disgraced ex-detective Washington Poe. A man dubbed “The Immolation Man” haunts the pages of this book, leaving charred bodies behind in the Lake District’s stone circles. When Poe’s name is found on the third victims charred remains, Poe is brought out of his suspension and solitude to an investigation that doesn’t have many clues. This book held a great dynamic of a detective duo. I adored Ti 4**** This was a fantastic introduction to an engaging investigative duo, genius Tilly Bradshaw and the disgraced ex-detective Washington Poe. A man dubbed “The Immolation Man” haunts the pages of this book, leaving charred bodies behind in the Lake District’s stone circles. When Poe’s name is found on the third victims charred remains, Poe is brought out of his suspension and solitude to an investigation that doesn’t have many clues. This book held a great dynamic of a detective duo. I adored Tilly, a genius and super-smart data sleuth with some issues understanding social cues, and Poe who has dry humour and sticks up for what he believes is right. I loved the sort of big brother or great best friend dynamic the two have. This book was fast paced and thrilling with some twists and turns along the way. This was also a shortish book (368 pages) with riveting short chapters that had me turning page after page. M.W. Craven also had the unique experience of making me empathise and sympathise with the eventual killer. The plot wasn’t super intricate so it was easy to follow the connections that Poe and Tilly made in the investigation. The issue I had was that it left a bit of an open ending and I’d really like to see how the next stages would play out (perhaps in book 2!?). Also the author used a plot device which I’m pretty tired of seeing in thrillers, but the way the author played it across the pages did work quite well compared to other thriller books.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Whispering Stories

    Book Reviewed by Stacey on www.whisperingstories.com Washington Poe was the Detective Inspector of the National Crime Agency (NCA) until a mistake saw him put on suspension whilst an investigation began into his conduct. He headed home to Cumbria and bought a small house in the middle of a field with no neighbours. He was happily leading a quiet life with just himself and his dog Edgar for company. That was until acting Detective Inspector Stephanie Flynn showed up with an Osman warning (a police Book Reviewed by Stacey on www.whisperingstories.com Washington Poe was the Detective Inspector of the National Crime Agency (NCA) until a mistake saw him put on suspension whilst an investigation began into his conduct. He headed home to Cumbria and bought a small house in the middle of a field with no neighbours. He was happily leading a quiet life with just himself and his dog Edgar for company. That was until acting Detective Inspector Stephanie Flynn showed up with an Osman warning (a police warning that his life was in danger) regarding a serious case that was ongoing. She also wanted Poe’s help with the case so offered him the job as Detective Sergeant until the case was solved. The case in hand was that there had been multiple men found tortured, their private parts had been removed and then they had been burned to death in stone circles around Cumbria. The latest body, number three, had also been found with something cut into his skin – the words Washington Poe and what looked like the number five. Giving the reason for the police believing that Poe was in danger and the targets fifth victim. With a target on his head, Poe has to return to work and help solve the case before he becomes a victim. But Poe isn’t a man who follows the rule book and it’s not long before he finds himself following his gut rather than the evidence, much to the annoyance of DI Flynn and her bosses. If there is one man you want on your team to find the sadistic killer it’s Poe, but can he find the killer before losing his job, again? The Puppet Show is an absolutely perfect crime thriller following the police, especially Poe and Criminal Analyst Tilly Bradshaw as they work closely together to uncover the ‘Immolation Man’, what the papers have dubbed the serial killer. The book took a different route to what I was expecting. I was expecting the book to be one that would keep me awake at night having nightmares, hence when I began the book I did so during the day opting for something different to read the night before. However, the book is more about Poe and his team trying to find the killer and less about the killer him/herself. This type of book is perfect for me as I love police procedural novels. Poe is an aging detective who has been on the job long enough to know that you can’t always follow the paper trail, sometimes you have to do what you think is right and if that means having to make a few tough decisions that go against his bosses then so be it. He knows it could backfire on him. He also knows that nine out of ten times his hunches are right. Tilly is an absolutely remarkable character. From the description of her and her actions, you get the feeling that she has Asperger’s. She is exceptionally clever and talented but doesn’t understand humour, emotions and takes everything that people say to her literally. I have a teenage son with this condition so I could understand Tilly perfectly. You can’t help smiling at the girl as she comes more and more out of her shell and is vital to the investigation. The book had me engrossed from the very beginning. M. W. Craven’s writing has a natural flow to it and he knows how to write superb characters that have their flaws but are exceptionally likeable and intriguing to read about. They are also perfectly realistic. He also knows how to send you up the wrong path with his many twists and turns, definitely keeping you on your toes. As serial killer/detective books go, this has to be in my opinion one of the best. As the killer’s victims mount up you start to wonder how is this person ever going to be stopped and how are they choosing their next victim as everything seems to be very calculated and they certainly know the Cumbria area in detail as nothing is left to chance. As Poe starts to close in the tempo of the book seemed to pick up and I did feel like I was sat on the edge of my seat at times. I now can’t wait to see where M. W. Craven takes Washington Poe next in the series and I do hope that Tilly is still by his side. If you love thrillers/crime books, you need to read this one.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Oh My Goodness Me! Having read a couple of the authors other books, I knew I would be in for a good reading experience, I hadn't been prepared to be totally blown away though as this book isn't just good, it's brilliant! There are so many detective books out there that I think it can be hard for an author to make their's stand out. M.W. Craven has well and truly gone for gold with his new series. Poe and Bradshaw have got to be the most amazing characters I have ever come across and it has left m Oh My Goodness Me! Having read a couple of the authors other books, I knew I would be in for a good reading experience, I hadn't been prepared to be totally blown away though as this book isn't just good, it's brilliant! There are so many detective books out there that I think it can be hard for an author to make their's stand out. M.W. Craven has well and truly gone for gold with his new series. Poe and Bradshaw have got to be the most amazing characters I have ever come across and it has left me absolute desperate for more. Poe is your typical main protagonist who has issues but what makes him stand out is how he takes Bradshaw under his wings. Their unlikely friendship was something that instantly appealed to me and they are going to be one sought after crime duo. Tilly Bradshaw is going to win new fans over in droves. Craven has uncovered an absolute diamond with this character and if someone doesn't snap this series up for television then there is something seriously wrong. You really need to read this book for yourself to understand the appeal of Bradshaw. I can't put into words just how fantastic a character she is and I really urge all crime fans to read it. Not only is there an amazing cast of characters, there really is one gripping case the team find themselves working on also. With a shocking and horrifying opening to the story, the reader not only gets drawn in instantly, it also gives them a taster of just what they can look forward to in the rest of the novel. The Puppet Show is this years must read. It just had everything I could have hoped for from a crime book and more. Brilliant, just brilliant. I now have to go through the agonising wait for the next one in the series.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Keith Nixon

    A stunning novel that I suspect will be one of the novels of 2018 if not right at the top of the pile. If you read only one book this year make sure it is the puppet show.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Nilufer Ozmekik

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Of course five burning stars! What an amazing, twisted, fast, dark ride! I enjoyed every second of it! Meet with Washington Poe! A brilliant, smart investigator who never plays by the book and he is straightforward, fast thinker but most importantly he only believes in real justice ( a kind of justice beyond the laws) And his partner in crime ( also his first real friend) genius Tilly Bradshaw( one of the best heroines we could ever read), social awkward, introvert, also straightforward ( because Of course five burning stars! What an amazing, twisted, fast, dark ride! I enjoyed every second of it! Meet with Washington Poe! A brilliant, smart investigator who never plays by the book and he is straightforward, fast thinker but most importantly he only believes in real justice ( a kind of justice beyond the laws) And his partner in crime ( also his first real friend) genius Tilly Bradshaw( one of the best heroines we could ever read), social awkward, introvert, also straightforward ( because she doesn’t know any other way to communicate), sincere, kind hearted. Both of them have difficulties to connect with people, both of them are isolated because of their life circumstances which made them closer and good friends. They really understand each other and they are brave enough to do whatever it takes to bring the justice which make them a great team! I loved the end. But I’m not happy now because I need to read more! I want to know the mystery of Poe’s past and see more these two characters on the action! Now I have to wait till June for second book! It’s not fair!!!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Ken

    The perfect blend of an engaging murder mystery with a slightly darker tone and feel, alongside two interesting and easy to enjoy characters. The Puppet Show soon grabs your attention with its short addictive chapters straight from the first chapter. Disgraced detective Washington Poe is brought back from suspension after the charred remains of a third victim of a serial killers spree bears he’s name. Partnered with the socially awkward Tilly, the mismatch pair seek to uncover the truth. I really li The perfect blend of an engaging murder mystery with a slightly darker tone and feel, alongside two interesting and easy to enjoy characters. The Puppet Show soon grabs your attention with its short addictive chapters straight from the first chapter. Disgraced detective Washington Poe is brought back from suspension after the charred remains of a third victim of a serial killers spree bears he’s name. Partnered with the socially awkward Tilly, the mismatch pair seek to uncover the truth. I really liked how the two main characters interact together, their relationship really help drive the story forward. Their was a nice ambiguity as to why Poe’s name was chosen, is he the intended next victim... It’s a great introductory story to what promises to be a must read crime series, I’m delighted to see that a follow up is already planned.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Liz Barnsley

    The Puppet Show is a brilliantly twisted, horrifically wonderful serial killer thriller where the killer and thriller is totally outdone by the imaginative, engaging and purely emotionally resonant characters. Ok so we do have a mystery that is intriguing, compelling and utterly riveting whilst being totally hair clutching scary if you stop to just think about it for a moment – but then we have Washington Poe and Tilly Bradshaw – the best literary duo since, well, I don’t know when but a long tim The Puppet Show is a brilliantly twisted, horrifically wonderful serial killer thriller where the killer and thriller is totally outdone by the imaginative, engaging and purely emotionally resonant characters. Ok so we do have a mystery that is intriguing, compelling and utterly riveting whilst being totally hair clutching scary if you stop to just think about it for a moment – but then we have Washington Poe and Tilly Bradshaw – the best literary duo since, well, I don’t know when but a long time. Poe is fascinating, a rogue to out rogue Jack Bauer in 24 whilst doing it for all the right reasons of course, whilst Tilly is socially awkward yet highly intuitive and super intelligent. She says what she thinks when she thinks it and see’s the nuance that nobody else catches. Together their developing friendship and working relationship gives “The Puppet Show” an edgy, vibrant feel that raises it above any other thriller of this nature you’ll read at the moment. The author has such an eye for both plot and character development, you fall into this book and live in it’s pages – there are plenty of gorgeous little twists if you are into that sort of thing and the ending is terrifyingly edge of the seat. I loved every single moment of it, the settings are vivid and alive, the characters pop, even the peripheral ones and it is unpredictable and highly highly entertaining. I have literally nothing bad I can say about this one. Go get it. Don’t worry – you’ll survive. Probably…. HIGHLY recommended. More please.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Alice Lippart

    Very stereotypical characters, but such an intriguing, dark and twisted mystery!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lisa *OwlBeSatReading*

    Call me a psychic! A five star psychic! I predicted that The Puppet Show was going to be brilliant, and I was bloody right! I knew it! I just knew it! It gave me those vibes, you know what I mean? You pick up or hear about a book, feeling all attracted to the cover. Come on, we ALL love a bit of sinister looking cover art don't we? The synopsis gives you that 'oooh, this could be juicy' feeling. And it gets put right to the top of that enormous TBR, winking at you, beckoning you to pick it up. Th Call me a psychic! A five star psychic! I predicted that The Puppet Show was going to be brilliant, and I was bloody right! I knew it! I just knew it! It gave me those vibes, you know what I mean? You pick up or hear about a book, feeling all attracted to the cover. Come on, we ALL love a bit of sinister looking cover art don't we? The synopsis gives you that 'oooh, this could be juicy' feeling. And it gets put right to the top of that enormous TBR, winking at you, beckoning you to pick it up. This one went straight to the top of mine and I couldn't wait to get stuck in. Much to my delight there's murder and fire and stone circles and a copper who's got the DRIEST sense of humour ever. And there's a REALLY COOL CHICK too, who wears band tees and happens to be a mathematical genius. I'd also like to mention that there's a Spaniel called Edgar. That gives you a basic rambling idea of the two main characters, but I'm going to cast my mind back to my last read for a moment, Murder at the Mill (I'll call it MATM for short) by M B Shaw. Why am I mentioning my previous read I hear you cry?! Particularly in another book review as well! Shocking! Let me explain. Similies. Descriptions. Creative writing in general. It has to be good. Clever. Funny. Emotional. Flowy. I could go on. I'm a tough reader to please. MATM is a perfect example of how NOT to do it. In contrast, The Puppet Show is a perfect example of how it SHOULD be done. It's creative, witty, well planned and brilliantly researched. Craven's similes are CLASS. After my last read I was so relieved that this author can write. He can write gooooood. 'The chief constable walked like a man badly in need of a stool softener.' 'He had a drinker’s nose and his upturned chin resembled a jester’s boot.' If there's one thing I enjoy when I'm reading, it has to be when characters' personalities shine through and they become so real. 'Poe pointed at the BPhil after Francis Sharples’s name and asked, ‘You know what that means, Tilly? ‘Bachelor of Philosophy, Poe.’ Poe shook his head. ‘It means he’s a cock.’ Dry, British humour always gets a thumbs up from me, particularly if there's some cracking insults in the mix. The Puppet Show is one hell of a ride, I read it in just under two weeks but I wanted to read it in one sitting. Life got right in the way, and I found myself drifting off thinking about it when I should of been concentrating on work. I really wanted to cancel a family occasion as well because I just wanted to read. I love how a great book can make me feel so unsociable and selfish. I've always been a fan of crime fiction, especially when it's about a serial killer, my first being Silence of the Lambs twenty-odd years ago. I have also recently discovered Robert Bryndza and J D Barker for new reading in this genre. M W Craven is now up there for me as a go-to author as I just love the Britishness he injects into his story. I cannot fault The Puppet Show in any way, I highly recommend it. It is pretty graphic in places and there's a bit of sweary dialogue, but it all fits a treat. For a debut novel, this is exciting and gripping from start to finish. And I'm pleased to say that the author is currently writing #2. I will undoubtedly read the next instalment of Poe and Bradshaw solving gruesome murders in their quirky and entertaining way. Many thanks to Netgalley, Little, Brown Book Group UK and M.W. Craven for an advanced copy of this awesome book in exchange for an honest review. The pleasure was all mine.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    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 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.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Mandy White

    The Puppet Show by M W Craven - what a brilliant book! I was hooked straight away - gruesome murders, a disgraced cop and great writing - what's not to love!! There is a serial killer in the Lake District - and he is burning his victims alive. When the 3rd victim is discovered with the name of Washington Poe on his chest, the suspended cop is returned to duty to work the case. Is it personal - who is doing this and is he next? He is teamed up with Tilly Bradshaw, a socially awkward but brilliant The Puppet Show by M W Craven - what a brilliant book! I was hooked straight away - gruesome murders, a disgraced cop and great writing - what's not to love!! There is a serial killer in the Lake District - and he is burning his victims alive. When the 3rd victim is discovered with the name of Washington Poe on his chest, the suspended cop is returned to duty to work the case. Is it personal - who is doing this and is he next? He is teamed up with Tilly Bradshaw, a socially awkward but brilliant civilian analyst as his former partner has his job. I loved the partnership of Poe and Bradshaw, they made me laugh and they work so well together being so different. I really hope that we see more of them in future books. The ending really surprised me, so many twists and red herrings!! Thank you to Netgalley and Little Brown Book Group UK for my advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinions.

  26. 5 out of 5

    G.J.

    I am having a really good run of books at the moment ! The Puppet Show is a great story, set in Cumbria, Washington Poe is tasked to track down a serial killer. He has an unlikely sidekick in the form of Tilly Bradshaw, a mathematical genius and socially awkward young woman. An unusual but very entertaining team! I don’t want to give anything of the story away, suffice to say it keeps you on your toes. It’s a story that draws you in and keeps your attention the whole way, I loved it !

  27. 5 out of 5

    Raven

    So here we go springing (or crawling depending on the ratio of fruit:mince pies consumed) into the New Year with a hugely enjoyable serial killer thriller, The Puppet Show from debut author, M. W. Craven. I could easily break this down into a short list of attractive features, as it ticked many boxes for me from the outset. A dryly witty maverick detective with exceptionally cool name, and hints of darkness in his past. Cute doggy called Edgar Poe (great name). Techno nerd providing inadvertent So here we go springing (or crawling depending on the ratio of fruit:mince pies consumed) into the New Year with a hugely enjoyable serial killer thriller, The Puppet Show from debut author, M. W. Craven. I could easily break this down into a short list of attractive features, as it ticked many boxes for me from the outset. A dryly witty maverick detective with exceptionally cool name, and hints of darkness in his past. Cute doggy called Edgar Poe (great name). Techno nerd providing inadvertent comedic moments. Fire obsessed serial killer. Pagan stone circles with a backdrop of one of my favourite areas of the country, Cumbria. However, as I’m known for my long, yes possibly too long, reviews I’ll tell you why all this worked so effectively throughout the book, so linger a while longer. This has to be one of the most intensely character driven thrillers I have read of late, and to be honest, Craven has paved the way for a series of books, that will accommodate them in whatever investigation for some time to come. In common with Stuart MacBride’s Logan Mcrae books for example, I have a feeling that these are characters, Poe himself and Tilly Bradshaw (aforementioned techno nerd) that you will immediately pick up on again even if you have to wait the usual year for a new book, and that is a great thing to nail this quickly. He’s also allowed himself a bit of wiggle room to flesh out another of the main characters, DI Flynn, as well as a tantalising opportunity to dig deeper into the darkness of Poe’s unsettled past, as well as building further on the fresh and entertaining interplay between these three characters generally. I really enjoyed the fluidity of the dialogue between the characters, and how Poe and Bradshaw gradually change and influence each other in differing ways but with a real feeling of yin and yang as his darkness is deflected by her light. Pretty deep huh? No, joking aside there is a lovely innocence and gentle joshing underpinning the more difficult sides of their characters, and it works superbly. As mentioned, Craven has picked a wonderful part of our green and pleasant land as his location, and uses it at every opportunity and extremely effectively to add an air of menace and drama to his dark and twisted tale. Highlighting the desolate and remote nature of the Cumbrian landscape, I felt it both mirrored and heightened the general sense of darkness at play in the killer’s psyche, the unfolding trauma of Poe’s own life, and the fact that Poe lives a solitary life in such a place is wholly in keeping with his own psyche. Using the stone circles that occur in multitudes throughout the region as the perpetrator’s killing sites is a neat touch linking the theme of sacrifice from the past to the present. Too often writers do not manipulate the landscape enough to add depth and colour to their central story, making their stories have the feel that they could just be plonked into any setting, but Craven (alongside authors like Mari Hannah and William Shaw) has definitely mastered the art of landscape in this one. And so to the plot itself, and with my familiar refrain of no spoilers here, there are no spoilers here! What plays out is a perfectly paced, twisty murder investigation with some surprising reveals, a really quite empathetic killer and (cue host of angels) a killer whose identity remained remarkably well hidden. So another box firmly ticked, and giving an overall feeling of tremendous satisfaction to this reader. I shall be recommending this at work and beyond on its publication later this month, and a cracking good read to start the year. Highly recommended.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    Book reviews on www.snazzybooks.com This is an explosive start to a new crime series which looks set to be one of my new favourites! Great characters and an addictive plot meant I didn't want to put this down. 
Tilly's character is, in particular, really refreshing to see in this genre - she is definitely shown as on the autistic spectrum and is a character I loved, especially teamed with Poe who is straight-talking, bold and, most importantly, not overly stereotyped as a detective. He's bright, Book reviews on www.snazzybooks.com This is an explosive start to a new crime series which looks set to be one of my new favourites! Great characters and an addictive plot meant I didn't want to put this down. 
Tilly's character is, in particular, really refreshing to see in this genre - she is definitely shown as on the autistic spectrum and is a character I loved, especially teamed with Poe who is straight-talking, bold and, most importantly, not overly stereotyped as a detective. He's bright, incredibly fast-thinking and has his own problems but they're not overplayed within the plot. In other words, he feels like an actual person - and a likeable one at that! He stands up for people who need it, even when it could disadvantage himself, and I really liked that. 
The plot kept me completely absorbed and I found that, although there are plenty of dramatised parts, it didn't feel ridiculous. The setting - in Cumbria - was really interesting to read about and added an extra sense of atmosphere to the story. MW Craven's writing is brilliant and I found The Puppet Show to be utterly compelling. In fact, I'm already eagerly anticpating his future releases. * Many thanks to the author for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review*

  29. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    Dear Reader, This was a wonderful story,deftly plotted,rich in details,thorough in its exploration of times past and absolutely riveting! Tasked with discovering the identity of The Immolation Man,Steph,Tilly and Poe traverse a long, meandering,historical path where ghosts of the past are reawakened and past sins blanketed in secrets and coverups are rightly and vigorously exposed. I loved this book,particularly the in-depth details into the past and the intrinsic way the various threads were spu Dear Reader, This was a wonderful story,deftly plotted,rich in details,thorough in its exploration of times past and absolutely riveting! Tasked with discovering the identity of The Immolation Man,Steph,Tilly and Poe traverse a long, meandering,historical path where ghosts of the past are reawakened and past sins blanketed in secrets and coverups are rightly and vigorously exposed. I loved this book,particularly the in-depth details into the past and the intrinsic way the various threads were spun out and embroidered into this dark, fiendishly clever tale. And the ending,well,let’s just say that I admire Poe for his actions and applaud him for such. This is a highly addictive story,one that I heartily recommend to all lovers of crime,mystery and suspense.

  30. 5 out of 5

    The Cats’ Mother

    I have been seeing rave reviews of this English Crime thriller for months, so finally broke my rule about no more new books (until the TBR has been tamed at least) and ordered this in paperback - I figured if it was that good I would want to share it with my book group. Of course this much hype can lead to disappointment, so I was a little nervous about starting it, but needn’t have worried - it really was an excellent read. Washington Poe has been on suspension from his job at the Hampshire-base I have been seeing rave reviews of this English Crime thriller for months, so finally broke my rule about no more new books (until the TBR has been tamed at least) and ordered this in paperback - I figured if it was that good I would want to share it with my book group. Of course this much hype can lead to disappointment, so I was a little nervous about starting it, but needn’t have worried - it really was an excellent read. Washington Poe has been on suspension from his job at the Hampshire-based Serious Crime Analysis Section of the National Crime Agency, following a mistake which cost a suspect his life, so has returned to his native Cumbria where he lives on an isolated croft with his dog Edgar (geddit?) When a series of bodies are burned to death in nearby Stone Circles, and the most recent has Poe’s name carved into the skin, he is summoned back to work, where he demands that the best analyst available accompany him. This turns out to be shy, bullied, autistic Tilly Bradshaw, who never leaves the office, but Poe has a way of getting what he wants, and soon he, Tilly and newly promoted DI Stef Flynn are back in the Lake District on the hunt for a predator who is too smart to leave any clues and will stop at nothing to complete his mission. I read a LOT of police procedurals, and in some ways this followed a fairly standard serial killer plot line and character tropes, but what elevates this from the ordinary is the quality of the writing and the superb characterisation. Yes Poe is another grumpy damaged detective with a difficult past but the pairing with brilliant kind quirky Tilly was a delight to read. We feel his horror at having bullied her into taking the case, when he discovers that she is actually being properly bullied by the rest of her colleagues, and cheer as he remedies this, earning her eternal gratitude. The evolving friendship between them is what really makes the book special, but there is also a well crafted mystery too. I did guess who the perpetrator would be, mainly because there weren’t actually too many other suspects introduced, and the killer’s motivation becomes clear quite early on. Be warned (minor spoiler ahead) that there are references to historic child abuse, and there are some fairly gruesome scenes, but happily there is no animal abuse or harm (I got very worried about poor Edgar.) A minor quibble is that while the female characters are described physically, we get virtually no idea of what Poe looks like. I was happy that there was no romantic tension at all, and hope that this continues. The next book is published soon and I don’t plan on being so late getting to it - I had hoped for an ARC through NetGalley but they only appear to have gone to UK readers so I will just have to wait patiently with everyone else!

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.