The Puppet Show by M.W. Craven
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 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…
Wow! Where to even begin with this book!!? I opened up The Puppet Show for the crime fiction book club I help host on Instagram, @criminallygoodbookclub, and I was not disappointed. The first two pages (really only a page and a half) blew me away. They were so incredibly well written and got me instantly hooked. Here is your content warning, there are very graphic descriptions of victims and what the killer does to them, so if you’re on the sensitive side, this may not be for you.
The plotline was fantastic and Craven had me guessing till the very end! I had an idea of who the culprit was due to a couple of very well placed hidden hints, but they were nothing that said, ” Hello, the bad guy is this guy.” The only thing that I wasn’t hugely fond of was it did “slow down” and take a dip in action/tension in the middle, but overall it was fantastic. Since Craven is an English author, the writing style, I think, is very English and is a little different than our writing style across the pond in the US, but I obviously loved it!
Another one of my favorite things about the novel was the character relationships. They were also very well thought out and planned. My absolute favorite character was Tilly Bradshaw, the genius and highly misunderstood civilian analyst that assists Poe in his investigation. Her humor and sarcasm were hilarious, and I laughed out loud several times! I loved watching her character develop as she went from someone who stayed only in the office, to a total badass out in the field. It was also entertaining to see the relationship between Poe and Bradshaw unfold. It wasn’t one of those forced relationships that don’t seem to fit either character, but instead, the two drew out the best qualities in one another, and it truly felt as though the characters would have been friends in real life.
All in all, The Puppet Show was a phenomenal debut novel, and I can wait to pick up Black Summer (second Washington Poe novel)! I think M.W. Craven will be one of my go-to authors and will be an “instant buy.” I really can’t stop saying enough good things about The Puppet Show. I was completely immersed in the novel the whole time, and was unable to put it down! It wasn’t a novel that was predictable, and although graphic in places, it didn’t take away from the novel or feel forced. I am definitely suggesting The Puppet Show to any who haven’t read it yet, and is easily one of my favorite books I’ve read in 2019!
You can check out more about M.W. Craven and his books at his website here.