'Fantastic' MARTINA COLE
'Britain's answer to Harry Bosch' MATT HILTON
'A powerful thriller from an explosive new talent' DAVID MARK ______________________
It's Christmas and a serial killer is leaving displayed body parts all over Cumbria. A strange message is left at each scene: #BSC6
Called in to investigate, the National Crime Agency's Washington Poe and Tilly Bradshaw are faced with a case that makes no sense. Why were some victims anaesthetized, while others died in appalling agony? Why is their only suspect denying what they can irrefutably prove but admitting to things they weren't even aware of? And why did the victims all take the same two weeks off work three years earlier?
And when a disgraced FBI agent gets in touch things take an even darker turn. Because she doesn't think Poe is dealing with a serial killer at all; she thinks he's dealing with someone far, far worse - a man who calls himself the Curator.
And nothing will ever be the same again . . .
The Curator, the third book in the Washington Poe and Matilda Bradshaw National Crime Agency series is possibly the best one yet though all of them for me have been five star reads. And here's why. Mike Craven's characterisation is exemplary. The protagonists and antagonists are so human, so psychologically realistic, their dialogue flawless, they feel real and the reader immediately wants to invest their time in getting to know them. And as for Poe and Tilly they now feel like old friends I'm catching up with. They work together like salt and vinegar. The comedic, sometimes sweary narrative is perfect. The plots, though complex, provide lots of red herrings, and build to a climactic denouement, and with the exception of this title are typically fast paced and action-packed throughout. There's a reason this one has a slower pace from the 200th page and a gradually building tension. The theme of pregnancy, motherhood, the sub-plot of Poe's heritage, and fighting crime in a barren land required a slightly more descriptive, emotive, and nuanced write-up which cannot be rushed. The scene building worked so well I dreamed I was trapped on an island in the Irish sea with a killer. If this is not enough to make you want to read it I can give you lots more reasons. Namely, this is possibly the easiest looking case to crack and because of this facade is actually the most complex Poe's investigated. As always I never knew where the story was heading and when I thought I knew who the murderer was I was wrong-footed every time. The corkscrew twists at the end were a pleasant surprise. And the open ending Poe needs to find his biological father sets the stage for what is about to come. I cannot wait to read the next in the series, Dead Ground, published 3rd June 2021.
The Curator is sharply plotted, flawlessly written, and as far as I'm concerned the best in the series yet.
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 . . .
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.
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