Black Summer – M.W. Craven | @MWCravenUK @LittleBrownUK

After The Puppet Show, a new storm is coming . . .

Jared Keaton, chef to the stars. Charming. Charismatic. Psychopath . . . He’s currently serving a life sentence for the brutal murder of his daughter, Elizabeth. Her body was never found and Keaton was convicted largely on the testimony of Detective Sergeant Washington Poe.

So when a young woman staggers into a remote police station with irrefutable evidence that she is Elizabeth Keaton, Poe finds himself on the wrong end of an investigation, one that could cost him much more than his career.

Helped by the only person he trusts, the brilliant but socially awkward Tilly Bradshaw, Poe races to answer the only question that matters: how can someone be both dead and alive at the same time?

And then Elizabeth goes missing again – and all paths of investigation lead back to Poe.

Black Summer was published by Constable on the 20th June 2019. Many thanks to the publisher for my copy of the book via NetGalley for this review.

Now where the heck do I begin with a review of Black Summer and do it justice?! Black Summer is the second book in the Poe and Bradshaw series. I absolutely loved The Puppet Show and I did something that I don’t often do….moved start onto the next book in the series as I needed more of the wonderful DS Washington Poe and the super intelligent Tilly Bradshaw who is working alongside Poe as a criminal analyst.

However, as with all books that follow an amazing first book, would Black Summer be as good….hell yeah!

Black Summer technically could be read as a standalone as there is enough back-story to welcome new readers however I highly recommend reading The Puppet Show, not only is it a brilliant read but it gives background to both Poe and Tilly, showing how their relationship has developed.

All seems to have settled down since the events in The Puppet Show however that all changes when Elizabeth Heaton arrives at a police station…the ‘murdered’ daughter of a man that Poe helped to convict, based mainly upon forensic evidence. What ensues is Poe’s credibility being called into question (again!) and a race against time to defend his honour and prove his innocence, fortunately for Poe with the help of Tilly! Black Summer is an incredibly complex case which M.W. Craven delivers beautifully and flawlessly. What I really loved about this book is how the complexity really enabled Tilly to shine, to demonstrate how her wonderful mind works, methodically working through information to see what is seemingly not there, to question the ‘truth’.

I love, love, LOVE the relationship between Poe and Tilly, how they work brilliantly together and bounce off each other. They are a duo that wonderfully complement one another and they both come alive from the pages of Black Summer. Craven has created two strong characters who feel real, they are well developed and Black Summer continues to build on the working relationship and friendship that they started in The Puppet Show but arguably more is at stake for them both in this outing.

Black Summer is an amazing read with so many layers with new characters who each bring something to this read, including the intriguing and incredibly quirky Estelle Doyle (forensic pathologist) and the creepy Jared Keaton, Elizabeth’s father and so-called murderer.

I highly recommend Black Summer and this series; the only problem is that book 3 in the series isn’t due out until the middle of next year…boo! In the meantime, I’m looking forward to reading Craven’s Detective Inspector Avison Fluke series. The series was originally published by Caffeine Nights however Little, Brown have bought the rights to the back catalogue and therefore this series will be re-edited, repackaged and re-published in January 2020.

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 this year. 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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