Washington Poe is a detective working for the National Crime Agency. The investigation he’s assigned involves a serial killer intent on enacting what appears to be revenge. There is no trace evidence left at the scene, there are no witnesses to his or her crimes, and the victim’s bodies are burnt.
Building the profile of a dangerous individual who enjoys fire-setting and who knows how to evade the law Poe works alongside Tilly Bradshaw, an analyst, to determine the significance of the Cumbrian stones where the charred remains are continually being discovered. Living a singular existence, having a past he wishes he knew more about, and dealing with a colleague who possibly possesses an un-diagnosed autistic spectrum disorder adds to the problematic case Poe desperately wants to solve. He’s reluctant at first to get involved, is under constant pressure from his boss, and struggles to switch off once the investigation begins to gain traction.
The killer is leaving the authorities dangling, they in effect are the puppets on the killer’s string. Sifting through ANPR images, and CCTV camera footage in the hope of spotting something, anything, minutely untoward or unusual, in case it may have some significance to the case and prove to have a smidgen of value in somehow helping to build a set of circumstance sin which a killer might be able to select and murder their victims.
Everything about this book, the characterisation, the narrative, the dialogue, the actions, the procedure, is authentic and clearly well-researched. What I loved in the end most of all, is that modern detective work and tenacity paid off. Technology, some good old groundwork, and a few sleepless nights led to a dramatic but a realistic conclusion. And although the necessary threads were tied, there is room for further exploration. This may be the first book I read in 2019 but it’s absolutely my favourite. Without a doubt The Puppet Show is my best book of 2019 and I know that if you enjoy crime thrillers that are procedural-based, but not procedure-heavy, you will love it too!
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