THE PUPPET SHOW by M.W. CRAVEN.
He pulls the strings. he watches them burn. Welcome to the Puppet Show.
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.
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...
About the author ... a brand new voice in crime fiction, M. W. Craven was born in Carlisle but grew up in Newcastle. He joined the army at sixteen, leaving ten years later to complete a social
work degree. Seventeen years after taking up a probation officer role in Cumbria, at the rank of assistant chief officer, he became a full-time author. the Puppet Show has sold in numerous foreign territories and has been optioned for TV by Studio Lambert.
- Press Release Blurb
The stone circle is an ancient, tranquil place.
- First Sentence
Poe recognised the early stages of sedation. He tried to fight it but had no chance, he was about to succumb to whatever he'd been given. "Steph," he slurred, "she's fucking drugged us."
He tried to stand but fell back onto the sofa. He dropped the phone. He was vaguely aware of Flynn shouting through the Blackberry's microphone.
"Poe! Poe! Are you alright?"
Eventually the voice faded and his eyes rolled back. Ten seconds later everything disappeared.
- Memorable Moment, Page 212
SOURCE ... Received with thanks from Beth Wright of the publishers Little Brown Book.
READ FOR A CHALLENGE? ... No.
MY THOUGHTS ... Burning people alive in prehistoric stone circles? I was going to be so disappointed if this turned out to be a lazily written novel featuring stereotypical pagans and human sacrifice?
Trying desperately not to give anything away in the form of a spoiler, I think I'll just leave it as, thankfully much more imaginatively written than this, I was left far from disappointed.
A thriller that once started is nigh on impossible to put down. With just enough twists and turns to keep you guessing; the unorthodox methodology applied by the team that is Washington Poe and Co eventually filling in all the missing pieces in a totally unexpected and satisfying ending. To say that the author's attention to detail - whether it be the smell of the charred bodies of the victims or the Cumbria setting, the stone circles which offer such a vivid sense of place - makes for compelling reading is something of an understatement.
It is however the characters; the interplay between Poe and Tilly (often referred to by her last name of Bradshaw) that really made this book for me.
Undisciplined and something of a wild card, Poe has a dark side to his personality which we get tantalising glimpses of throughout whilst Stephanie Flynn (temporary officer in command) offers not only a fascinating contrast but is the kind of strong female character I really enjoy. Tilly however is in a league of her own. A wonderfully complex character who though its never stated I understand to be non-neurotypical. and very likely high-functioning Aspbergers. It is her and Poe's very differing characters, her innocence; his world-weariness, her literal thinking; his what could be seen as brashness that make such a formidable, different and, yes, entertaining pairing. Oh! And then there's the murderer. Multi faceted; without any compassion for their victims, a victim of sorts themselves as we discover. Despite their utterly odious murderous behaviour there was a small part of me that couldn't help but feel a certain amount of empathy for them and that for me at least is what makes a good 'baddie'.
Whilst its not my policy to recommend books I'll just leave it as The Puppet Show is definitely one to consider if your in the market for an enthralling thriller with characters you'll find yourself investing in.