Black Summer by M. W. Craven – Book Review

A huge thank you to Netgalley, M.W. Craven and Constable Publishing for an ARC copy of this book in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

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Synopsis

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.

My Thoughts

Anybody who follows my blog will know how much I raved about The Puppet Show (Click to check out my review) in January and it’s no secret that I was eagerly awaiting Black Summer for months.  I actually read this as soon as I received a copy but haven’t had the chance to do my post until now.

When I’ve loved a book so much I’m always a little wary of reading the next in the series in-case it doesn’t live up to my expectations but I had little need to worry here!  Black Summer is as thrilling, twisted and engrossing as The Puppet Show and I am a big a fan as ever and I’m confident now that this series will continue to go from strength to strength.

Jared Keaton was caught and jailed by Washington Poe for the murder of his daughter years ago.  So, how can Elizabeth Keaton have just walked into a police station in Cumbria? All evidence points to Elizabeth being genuine but Poe cannot shake the feeling there is more going on.  When Elizabeth disappears again, Poe seems the most likely suspect.  With the help from his colleagues and his trusted genius best friend Tilly Bradshaw,  Poe becomes part of a race to uncover the seemingly impossible truth before he finds himself in the frame for Elizabeth’s murder.

The plot is so intricately done and planned out that I am convinced Craven is a criminal mastermind himself.  He does not write simple who dun it? style stories or even a catch the killer style.  Black Summer has the most thought out and cleverly woven plot I have ever come across.  The way little things are smoothly and covertly woven into the narrative and then all brought together in the mind-blowing last few chapters is just pure genius!  I spent the whole novel trying to figure out what was going on and came nowhere near close but when I did realise….

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Anyone who has read either novel will tell you they are madly in love with Poe and Tilly.  I love how well they work together with no romantic interest at all but a such a protective bond.

In Black Summer we begin to learn more about Poe’s past and despite keeping his tough exterior, we also see more of his vulnerable side too.  The character of Tilly has been  developed the most and I loved how she had grown in confidence and professionally but still kept a lot of the endearing and amusing aspects of her personality.  I’m hoping that those never change across the series.

If you haven’t read either book (where have you been?) then I cannot recommend them enough.  They are dark, twisted and mind-blowingly clever.

Now how long until books 3?

Author Bio – M.W. Craven

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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 misuse. 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 . . .

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 usually be found at punk gigs and writing festivals up and down the country.

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