I was a little bit behind the times when I read The Puppet Show earlier this year. Thankfully, thanks to NetGalley, I’m more on the ball this time round. Before my review, here’s the blurb.
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.
The Puppet Show left me reeling. It was brilliant but brutal. The Immolation Man was a savage killer and an unknown quantity. This time round, Detective Sergeant Washington Poe knows who’s responsible. At least he thought so until evidence proves otherwise. How can a supposedly dead woman come back to life six years later?
There’s a lot less gore in this novel but the plot does not suffer in any way. In fact, I found Black Summer even more compelling. It’s a proper mystery that appears insolvable. Even Tilly Bradshaw, Poe’s analyst colleague, is scratching her head over this one. There are plenty of curve balls in this story and I genuinely could not work it out. I love I was kept guessing to the very end.
Although this could be read as a standalone, I think it helped that I had read The Puppet Show earlier this year. It meant I was comfortable with Poe and Bradshaw as characters. Tilly’s quirkiness is totally endearing and I love how she and Poe bring out the best in each other. They make for a mischievous pairing and DI Stephanie Flynn’s exasperation with them both is evident.
Although the Cumbrian countryside is a main feature again, Storm Wendy makes an appearance too. The weather is ominously hot for a Cumbrian summer and the storm is brewing. Mike Craven times it well. The storm hits as the s**t hits the fan for Poe, elevating the tension to fever pitch.
The other thing that really intrigues me about this book is the title. Does Black Summer refer to the sky during the storm or the content of the story? No. It’s a truffle. And absolutely key to everything. And that’s the only clue I’m going to give you. You’ll have to read the book for yourself to find out the rest.
Roll on book 3 – The Curator – next summer!
You can buy Black Summer by clicking here.
About the Author
M.W. Craven was born in Carlisle but grew up in Newcastle, running away to join the army at the tender age of sixteen. He spent the next ten years travelling the world having fun, leaving in 1995 to complete a degree in social work with specialisms in criminology and substance abuse. Thirty-one years after leaving Cumbria, he returned to take up a probation officer position in Whitehaven, eventually working his way up to chief officer grade. Sixteen years later he took the plunge, accepted redundancy and became a full-time author. He now has entirely different motivations for trying to get inside the minds of criminals…
The Puppet Show, the first in a two-book deal he signed with the Little, Brown imprint, Constable in 2017, was released to critical acclaim in hardback in 2018. It has been sold in numerous foreign territories and the production company Studio Lambert, creators of the award-winning Three Girls, have optioned it for TV. The sequel, Black Summer, follows in June 2019.
M. W. Craven is married and lives in Carlisle with his wife, Joanne. When he isn’t out with his springer spaniel, or talking nonsense in the pub, he can be found at punk gigs and writing festivals up and down the country.