Constable Books June 2018 (Hardback) January 24th (Paperback)
He pulls their 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.
Reluctantly partnered with the brilliant but socially awkward civilian analyst Tilly Bradshaw, the mismatched pair uncover a trail that only Poe is meant to see. The elusive killer has a plan and for some reason Poe is part of it…
First, special thanks to the author for arranging for a paperback copy of this book to be sent to me. We spoke over email and I think he understood that although I have a very special signed and numbered edition from Goldsboro Books, I truly appreciated having a paperback copy to actually read. He said he understood, but writing that down, I wonder does it make me sound weird??!! I collect books right!!
Now crime fiction fans, let me tell you about this book. Washington Poe we learn is suspended from policing, his return is swift and we quickly discover this maverick copper gets results by following the evidence but not necessarily the rules. With the crimes happening in his local area, combined with his name carved on the chest of victim number 3, it is unavoidable, Washington Poe is on the case!
Confession time, 100 pages into this book I really wasn’t a fan of Washington Poe, the author shows us aspects of his character in 2 incidents which made me really not like his actions. While morally admirable, I found Poe to be extreme in his behaviour, which was unnecessarily violent and reprehensible. Likewise Tilly, the ultra intelligent but socially inept analyst, again I found her to be extreme, her social functioning so low, an idiot savant whom I questioned functioning in the pressured National Crime Agency Environment. However, these 2 quirky characters did complement each other although it was still a surprise upon finishing this book to discover both Tilly and Poe had massively grown on me, to the point of me wanting more! So yes, I am thrilled that this book is the first in a series.
As for the plot, well not for the faint hearted, as a modus operandi this killer’s work is pretty grim. But the plot was comprehensive, with Poe we did indeed follow the evidence to some truly unpleasant discoveries and motivating factors. I smugly felt I was working things out along with Poe, but I think in all honesty I was following the author’s trail of breadcrumbs rather than make glaring discoveries in the plot sooner than expected! That said this book did require some concentration in order to keep track of all the clues and the pace of the investigation.
So back to Poe, he is a maverick cop and I think the author wanted to show that side early on, by the conclusion things pulled together really well and I understood more of his motivations and indeed why as I reader we needed to know his character. Tilly and Poe were in many ways opposites, Tilly doing everything by the book, while Poe skirted the sidelines. The pair complemented each other in a similar way to Jack Bauer and Chloe ( for any fans of 24), and like them their unconventional pairing and methods made for excellent entertainment.
Written in the third person and entirely from the view point of Poe, all we know about the murderer is what the investigation uncovers. Superb crime fiction, hard hitting, twisty and pacey with some excellent characters, this book does not shy away from the darker side of human behaviour and does have some upsetting themes. For me this makes for great crime fiction, however I mention it as some may find aspects of this book upsetting and may wish to find out more prior to reading.
I understand book 2, Black Summer is out in June and more to follow after that. A great time now I think to start a new crime series and The Puppet Show, published this week in paperback is here and ready! Recommended by me and come on, lets start this series at the beginning, yes?
Thanks to the author and publisher for my copy of this book.