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Book Review: The Puppet Show by M.W. Craven

Welcome to my first review of 2019! I started The Puppet Show by M.W Craven last year…. how long ago does that sound when it’s actually not? It was my last 2018 read, which made me question whether I should have waited to write up my top 15 on the


31st… I should have. So, The Puppet Show will not be my 16th greatest read of 2018.

I was made aware of this good ol’ read thanks to the wonderful bookish Twitter-verse, the paperback isn’t out until the 24th of this month BUT the e-book version and hardback was published on the 7th of June 2018. It was and currently is, still on offer for an amazing 99p on kindle. If I had been aware of it back in June, I would have grabbed it then!

I also hear that there is a cracking blog-tour line up that’s kicking off come paperback publication week, including my bookish friend Rachel (You can find her blog and some amazing reviews here!)
The Blurb

“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 …”

The Puppet Show is the first instalment of the Washington Poe (*swoon) series, with the next book in the series; Black Summer to be released on the 20th June 2019…. You’ve guessed right, I’ve already pre-ordered that one!

The storyline follows a police detective; Washington Poe being pulled back in after a suspension, due to a death that occurred on one of his previous cases. He’s partnered up with a young sheltered office ‘geek’ Tilly Bradshaw to help within a murder investigation involving the ‘Immolation Man’, a serial killer who is murdering men by fire at local stone circles…. creepy stuff!


On the first page of the book, we are provided with this;

1. To kill as a religious sacrifice
2. To Kill, especially by fire”

This definition alone sets the perfect eerie stage for what can only be described as one of the most edge of your seat murder thrillers that I have ever read. Be prepared to be thrown into the lion den of gruesome murder and forensic / police investigation.
What I Thought

What first drew me in was the vivid details written into the storyline so you couldn’t help but visualise the context of the book, for example;

“His flesh spits and sizzles like meat in a hot oven. Blood, fat and water roll down his arms and drip from his fingers”

That’s when you know that you’re going to in for a disgustingly dark yet brilliant bumpy ride. Creative descriptions like this kept me glued to the seat and heart racing the whole way through this read (well until re-charging time). I was so glad to have read it on the kindle, I charged it fully and read until that last percentage of battery… which meant hat I could read it in the dark, in bed; which wasn’t the best idea ever!

The characters that M.W Craven has created are amazing, I absolutely adore Poe and Tilly, they made the best crime fighting duo and somewhat remind me of Dr Temperance Brennan from Kathy Reichs forensic based writes (and I love her too). The dynamic that Tilly and Poe have starts off as prey (she’s quite sheltered and is the brunt of many office jokes) and protector; but throughout the storyline, you can see them develop a more mutually level brother – sister relationship. My heart swelled. Poe is arrogant but his heart is definitely in the right place, whereas Tilly is super intelligent and lovable. I think the planning that’s gone into the characters, including glimpses into childhood memories help to make them more identifiablel and connectable.

It was so refreshing to see an intelligent female being some-what of a main character, the last few crime reads have been this way and it always makes me feel more invested in the storyline, as well as the characters. Although, I think that’s just a personal preference; again I loved the fantastic male and female crime fighting duo!

A big thing in forensic-y written crime thrillers for me is the authenticity of the forensic evidence investigations (mind of a recently graduated forensic student here!) Craven included newer post – mortem investigative techniques, such as MSCT and cone beam reconstruction. These can be used to identify injuries of badly decomposed / burnt bodies. I like this, because it shows that the writer did enough research, he also defines the forensic and police protocols for the readers as part of the story’s dialogue without sounding patronising.

The storyline is a cat and mouse type thriller, where Poe is hunting the serial Killer of many male victims, but as he makes wrong turns in the investigation The Immolation Man is there to leave him clues. Taunts or a helping hand? You’ll have to read to find out!

Each bite-sized chapter provided *gasp* moments, as well as leaving up with several cliff-hangers, which is great… unless you’re someone that is fitting in a chapter in your break and then can’t stop thinking about when you can read it again (not me it was the Christmas holidays… but someone!)

It takes a special kind of thriller to feck with your head; my gosh did this book do it! It’s like a deadly jigsaw that you just can’t wait to put together. I highly recommend this read to anyone who enjoys the murder mystery thriller crime genre. If this is you go buy / Pre Order! Enjoy!

Have you read The Puppet Show yet? If so, what did you think? Let me know!

Whatever you’re reading today






MW Craven Twitter link @MWCravenuk

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4 thoughts on “Book Review: The Puppet Show by M.W. Craven

  1. Fabulous review! That quote OMG! Not a book for the faint at heart but I’m totally ok with it, unless there’s animal cruelty I’m totally up for a graphic and disturbing read. I also really appreciate the attention to detail and it’s quite fascinating for me (a non forensic student) to learn about everything involved in an investigation.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thankyou so so much!! This comment means the world to me!! No animal cruelty I swear, I can’t really deal with that either or children! I think the authenticity is one of my favourite things in this book! He’s even sneaked a bit of chemistry in there!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I received a widget for this book but didn’t claim it 😦 because I don’t want to add to my list on Netgalley and I honestly rather read it in paperback. It sounds like such a great novel, it would be lovely to have the real thing and have it in the library. At this moment is sounds like a foolish decision though 🙂 Thanks for the info!


  2. Great review. Now I’m even more excited for the tour xx


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