#6 Black Summer by M. W. Craven

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.

Paperback | 384 pages

Publisher: Constable (12th December 2019)

Was so excited to read this after the explosive first novel. I had fallen in love with the characters of Washington Poe and Tilly Bradshaw and couldn’t wait to dive back into their lives and what a start to the book! Washington Poe has more sides than any shape and the beginning of this book started right in the drama of things. I love a character like Washington, who has so much life already behind him and countless of enemies at every turn he takes. This story sounds incredibly interesting and I’m excited to see how Washington handles himself as the story progresses.

This was very easy to read and actually a book that I found myself savouring over a long period of time instead of reading in one or two settings. I read the last third of the book while I was having lunch in Bill’s and I was so addicted to what I was reading that I didn’t realise how fast the time was flying by.

Washington Poe’s character is one that constantly surprises me. Just when I think I’ve got him sussed a curve ball is thrown into my path and I find myself guessing at his character once more. The idea that Poe could have done something wrong was an interesting avenue to explore and the style that this book follows made the story more interesting and addictive to read. Tilly Bradshaw’s character is one I identify with on many levels and I enjoy that she isn’t a ‘run of the mill’ assistant character/sidekick. Her character is always exploring and learning and her unwavering loyalty towards Poe makes their friendship more personal and warm.

Keaton’s character was a concept I wasn’t expecting but he’s character is told in a way that makes it impossible for the reader not to be curious by him. Whatever thoughts you have about a straight line case go out the window when Washington and Keaton collide. I knew just enough about Keaton’s character to be interested in him but also enough to be able to form my own opinions about him and not be pushed along by the narrative.

The book is told in days and this benefited my read and my interpretation of the characters and their actions as the story unfolded. The thoughts and actions of the characters fitted their profiles and I never felt like they were straying from themselves or acting in a way that wasn’t believable. Something about crime taking place in Cumbria, is very appealing and interesting to me and I found myself getting swept away in the novel and forgetting the time. Many sleepless nights were had over this book!

My sister used to live around Cumbria, so I have working memory of some of the places up there, what I have no knowledge of, I can easily visualise through the descriptions of the book. The characters are well formed and it was easy to depict them and visualise them as the acted and grew throughout the story.

I’m often weary of second novels because I know that sometimes they can be a disappointment or the expectation of them can hit far below the belt. I had enjoyed ‘The Puppet Show’, so much that I was bouncing on the end of my seat, waiting for the release of this book. Somehow I was so excited for the release of this book that I actually missed it and was shocked to find it already on the shelf in Waterstones. This was holiday reading but it actually took me three weeks to read because I was savouring the story (the 3rd book doesn’t come out till June). This book definitely lived up to my expectations and also introduced the same characters to me in a different setting. It was a different style of structure that I found curious and that opened me up to more experience while reading.

I finished the book and I just thought ‘wow, just wow’. That to me is the mark of a good book. This second instalment into the series added more depth to the characters and allowed me to experience Poe in a setting that he was familiar with. I was allowed to see how he operated on a case that he already had experience with and that was something I found rather eye opening. I definitely felt that I learned more about the way Poe’s character worked with this book and I found the case to be interesting and curious at the same time. This book definitely played into my love for human interactions and the human mind, so I was impressed with the way Keaton was revealed as a character.

The book sits in the middle ground of the crime genre. It’s not a thriller and its not a generic detective novel. It sits in the middle of a very large genre but if you want a detective crime book that’s a little bit different and with characters that aren’t ‘run of the mill’, then it’s worth giving this a go.

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