I realise I’m very late to the party with this book. I finally got the chance to read The Puppet Show this week and I am kicking myself that I haven’t read it sooner.
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 …
I have been meaning to give M. W. Craven’s Washington Poe series a go for months now and I’m so pleased that I’ve finally had the time to do so. After reading so many rave reviews for this series, I can see what I’ve been missing out on. The Puppet Show is one of the best police procedurals I’ve read. Detective Washington Poe is a force to be reckoned with, and he is certainly not a person who you want to get on the wrong side of. His partnership with Tilly Bradshaw is brilliant. Tilly suffers from her own problems and struggles with social skills, which often makes her a target for bullies. I thought she was such a unique character in the crime fiction field, and I can’t wait to see how her friendship with Poe develops further.
I liked Washington Poe right from the moment when M. W. Craven first introduces him. I really liked how he stepped in and defended Tilly in the opening chapters. He would be a great friend to have, but you certainly wouldn’t want him as an enemy. Washington has been called in to deal with a horrific case after the burnt out body of a man has been discovered in a stone circle. The case bears all the hallmarks of a ritual killing, but what is all the more disturbing, is that Washington’s name has been carved into the victim’s skin. This discovery prompts the police to believe that Washington may well be the killer’s next intended victim.
I think Washington’s friendship with Tilly is one of the strongest parts of this book. Unlike some of her colleagues, Poe recognises her talents, and he often appreciates her honesty which is really refreshing. But the plot as well is extremely gripping. I wanted to find out the reasons behind the gruesome murders, and the search for answers take Poe and Tilly to some very dark places. Normally when I read police procedurals, I have a couple of suspects in mind, but I didn’t have a clue who the culprit behind the killings was. I would say that this book isn’t for the faint-hearted as there are some pretty disturbing scenes along the way.
The Puppet Show is a book that you could devour in a matter of hours. After finishing the first book in the series, I’ve already ordered the second book, and I can’t wait to catch up Tilly and Poe again. I suppose one of the advantages of starting a series, several books in, is that I don’t have to wait patiently for the next book to be released. If you enjoy crime novels with a mixture of horror, then this is the book for you, if you haven’t come across it already.
Publication date: 7th June 2018
Print length: 368 pages
The Puppet Show is available to buy: