Dead Ground by M.W. Craven #bookreview

On my blog today, I’m sharing my thoughts on the brilliant new novel in the Washington Poe and Tilly Bradshaw series, Dead Ground.

Dead Ground: The Sunday Times bestselling thriller (Washington Poe Book 4) by [M. W. Craven]


Detective Sergeant Washington Poe is in court, fighting eviction from his beloved and isolated croft, when he is summoned to a backstreet brothel in Carlisle where a man has been beaten to death with a baseball bat. Poe is confused – he hunts serial killers and this appears to be a straightforward murder-by-pimp – but his attendance was requested personally, by the kind of people who prefer to remain in the shadows.

As Poe and the socially awkward programmer Tilly Bradshaw delve deeper into the case, they are faced with seemingly unanswerable questions: despite being heavily vetted for a high-profile job, why does nothing in the victim’s background check out? Why was a small ornament left at the murder scene – and why did someone on the investigation team steal it? And what is the connection to a flawlessly executed bank heist three years earlier, a heist where nothing was taken . . .


I love, love this series. Washington Poe and Tilly Bradshaw are such brilliant characters. They always stay with me long after I have turned the last page. I came to this series quite late, having only got round to it last year, and I am so pleased that I finally did. As I have done with Dead Ground, I’ll now be making sure that each new book in the series goes straight to the top of my TBR pile.

The cases which Washington and Tilly are investigating are always very complex, and their most recent case is definitely a tough one. M. W. Craven is a writer who knows how to hook the reader very early on. The book begins with a very intriguing set-up when we see a group of men wearing the masks of well-known celebrities entering a vault at a bank. Soon, one of them will be dead. But is there a connection to a murder that takes place in the present? A man’s body is found not far from a Brothel. It appears his killer beat him to death with a baseball bat. And what is the significance of a ceramic rat found at the scene?

This is the case which Washington Poe finds himself is tasked with solving. But this isn’t his usual bag; it seems at first to be pretty straightforward. But this time, he is involved in a case that could have disastrous consequences for the government and the country. But Poe only cares about getting to the truth. The war in Afghanistan plays a role in this story, and I thought this part of the plot was really intriguing. I thought how M.W. Craven weaved this part of the plot into the story was done very well.

What I love about this series is the humour that M.W. Craven manages to write into his books. His books are always about very dark crimes, but Tilly and Poe absolutely make this series for me. Their dialogue is brilliant, and it always draws me into the story. They are great friends, and they will always have each other’s back. They are two of the most memorable and fascinating characters in crime fiction.

M.W. Craven continues to increase the tension, particularly as Poe and Tilly get closer to working out what is going on here. There are a few people who want them to stay silent and not continue with the investigation. This makes the book very tense as Poe and Tilly try to get to the bottom of things before they become the target.

I am loving this series, and I can’t wait to see where M.W. Craven takes Poe and Tilly next. Dead Ground is a fantastic, fast paced thriller. Roll on book five!

Publisher: Constable

Publication date: 3rd June 2021

Print length: 448 pages

Dead Ground is available to buy:

Amazon UK Kobo Waterstones

The Curator by M.W. Craven #bookreview

On my blog today, I’m sharing my thoughts on the third book in the Washington Poe series by M.W. Craven, The Curator.


It’s Christmas and a serial killer is leaving displayed body parts all over Cumbria. A strange message is left at each scene: #BSC6

Called in to investigate, the National Crime Agency’s Washington Poe and Tilly Bradshaw are faced with a case that makes no sense. Why were some victims anaesthetized, while others died in appalling agony? Why is their only suspect denying what they can irrefutably prove but admitting to things they weren’t even aware of? And why did the victims all take the same two weeks off work three years earlier?

And when a disgraced FBI agent gets in touch things take an even darker turn. Because she doesn’t think Poe is dealing with a serial killer at all; she thinks he’s dealing with someone far, far worse – a man who calls himself the Curator.

And nothing will ever be the same again . . .


Detective Washington Poe and crime analyst Tilly Bradshaw are back in M.W. Craven’s latest thriller, The Curator. I love, love, love this series. Now that I’ve caught up, I’m going to have to wait until the next book in the series as well. M.W. Craven has created another complex case for Tilly and Poe to crack.

What I absolutely love about this series are the characters. Tilly and Poe are some of the most original characters I’ve come across in crime fiction. And what I really like about M.W. Craven’s writing is that he also manages to write humour into his books really well. One scene, in particular, had me in stitches at the beginning, when Tilly is trying to persuade Poe to go to their boss’s baby shower. And Tilly is also fighting a losing battle in this book in trying to get Poe to eat more healthily.

When you read a book by M.W. Craven, you know the case Poe and Tilly will be investigating will be a grisly one. In this case, it takes place over the Christmas period. Body parts start turning up, and Poe and Tilly have to try and identify the victims. This is without the rest of the body. They have to try and see if there is a link between them. If there even is a link.

I was instantly hooked. I wanted to know what was going on here, and M.W. Craven does a fantastic job in keeping the tension turning up a notch. The plot moves forward really quickly, and as Poe and Tilly grow closer to understanding what is going on, it becomes even more horrifying. 

M.W. Craven really knows his characters and strong characterisation is, I think, one of his strongest writing skills. When I start one of his books, I’m rooting for Poe and Tilly. Poe always fights Tilly’s corner, and woe betide anyone who tries to make fun of her when he is around. This is what I really like about Poe. He is willing to stand up for Tilly when not many other people will.

I couldn’t believe the final reveals which come towards the end. It was something I was totally not expecting. My eyes were just fixed to the page as everything unfolded.

M.W. Craven once again creates a very atmospheric setting, particularly in the final scenes, but I don’t want to give too much away here. He draws on the atmosphere of the surrounding landscape so well in his writing, making you feel as though you are right there where the action is taking place.

The Curator is another utterly chilling read in this series, and I can’t wait to see what M.W. Craven has in store for Tilly and Poe next.

Publisher: Constable

Publication date: 4th June 2020

Print length: 351 pages

The Curator is available to buy:

Amazon UK Kobo Waterstones

Black Summer by M.W. Craven #bookreview

I’m delighted to be sharing my thoughts on Black Summer by M.W. Craven on my blog today, the second book in the Washing Poe crime series.

Black Summer (Washington Poe) by [M. W. Craven]


After The Puppet Show, a new storm is coming . . .

Jared Keaton, chef to the stars. Charming. Charismatic. Psychopath . . . He’s currently serving a life sentence for the brutal murder of his daughter, Elizabeth. Her body was never found and Keaton was convicted largely on the testimony of Detective Sergeant Washington Poe.

So when a young woman staggers into a remote police station with irrefutable evidence that she is Elizabeth Keaton, Poe finds himself on the wrong end of an investigation, one that could cost him much more than his career.

Helped by the only person he trusts, the brilliant but socially awkward Tilly Bradshaw, Poe races to answer the only question that matters: how can someone be both dead and alive at the same time?

And then Elizabeth goes missing again – and all paths of investigation lead back to Poe.


Well, if you’re planning on visiting a Michelin star restaurant any time soon, I wouldn’t suggest reading this book before that visit. But if you are more of a traditional pub food kind of person, like me, then read on. I finally got round to catching up on M.W. Craven’s second book in his Washington Poe series, Black Summer over the last couple of days, and I can’t believe that again, I’ve waited this long to read one of his books. It gripped me from the start. I couldn’t wait to see how things would unfold for Poe this time around, and M.W. Craven certainly doesn’t give him an easy time.

M.W. Craven opens the book with a jaw-dropping opening. Poe is dining at a posh restaurant when the building is stormed with police officers, and he is arrested. Fast forward to a few weeks earlier, and Poe is haunted by one of the biggest investigations of his career. Six years ago, he helped to put killer, celebrity chef Jared Keaton, behind bars. Jared was convicted for the murder of his daughter, Elizabeth. Her body was never found. But now, a young woman, who looks remarkably like Elizabeth turns up at the police station claiming to be here. This young woman’s appearance is about to put Poe’s career and his reputation into jeopardy. Is it possible that he got it wrong all those years ago and that he sent an innocent man to prison? But Poe knows that something is not right here, even when DNA test results reveal that the young woman is Elizabeth. He can’t live with the fact that he may potentially have made a mistake, and Poe believes wholeheartedly that he was right six years ago, and that this woman isn’t Elizabeth. But how can he prove this when this irrefutable evidence saying that she is?

M.W. Craven hooked me in right away with the shocking opening chapter. From that moment, I wanted to know what had happened prior to that point and how things were going to pan out. I really didn’t know how Poe was going to be able to get out of this situation. But knowing him, and knowing his friend Tilly Bradshaw as well, I knew he’d find a way if there was one to be found.

What I have grown to love about this series is the friendship between Poe and Tilly. Many reviewers have already commented on their relationship, so I’m not going to say much more here, other than it’s one of the best things about these books.

Black Summer is a creative, highly addictive, first rate crime novel. I can’t wait to get my hands on book three and to start reading. This is a series I know now, I’ll definitely be sticking with.

Publisher: Constable

Publication date: 20th June 2019

Print length: 343 pages

Black Summer is available to buy:

Amazon UK Kobo Waterstones

The Puppet Show by M. W. Craven #bookreview

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.

Publisher: Constable

Publication date: 7th June 2018

Print length: 368 pages

The Puppet Show is available to buy:

Amazon UK   Kobo  Waterstones