Crime Mystery Thriller

Black Summer – M.W. Craven

17 June 2019
Black Summer Book Cover Black Summer
Washington Poe
M. W. Craven
Detective and mystery stories
June 20, 2019

'Dark, sharp and compelling' PETER JAMES 'Fantastic' MARTINA COLE 'Britain's answer to Harry Bosch' MATT HILTON 'A powerful thriller from an explosive new talent' DAVID MARK ______________________ 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. Praise for Black Summer: 'I cannot recall the last time I binge read a novel in 36 hours . . . truly mind-blowing' A. A. Dhand 'Washington Poe - a rising giant in detective fiction' Alison Bruce 'I loved this book!' Jo Jakeman 'A twisty thriller with a killer plot, backed up by solid research with characters you'll want to keep spending time with' Ed James 'One of the best British crime novels I've read in a long time. It's a great, brilliantly researched plot, not so much a whodunnit, more how the hell can that be? Simply an unputdownable page-turner' Nick Oldham 'Black Summer grabs you from the very first page. A dark and brilliantly twisted crime thriller, bringing back the inimitable Washington Poe and Tilly Bradshaw. You have to leave your fingerprints all over it.' Colin Falconer 'Dark and twisted in all the right places. Poe is a great mix of compelling, complex & charismatic, and well on his way to becoming one of the standout characters in crime fiction' Robert Scragg 'A book that shines with tension, wit and invention' William Shaw 'In Tilly and Poe, MW Craven has created a stand-out duo who are two of the most compelling characters in crime fiction in recent years. They deserve to join the ranks of Holmes and Watson, Rebus and Clarke, Hill and Jordan . . .' Fiona Cummins 'Dark, thrilling and unputdownable with sharply drawn characters that stride off the page' Victoria Selman


Black Summer is the eagerly awaited second book in the Washington Poe series, from Mike Craven. It is an outstanding return for Poe and his colleague, Tilly Bradshaw, in a thriller that is as captivating, dazzling and edgy, as any crime mystery I’ve read this year. Poe and Tilly have such a wonderful partnership that exudes humour, loyalty and great personal charm. They are both highly capable investigators, but from different ends of the spectrum – Poe who plays by personal interaction, hunches and his gut feeling, and Tilly who is a remarkable data scientist who operates through logic. As outliers, they don’t always fit well with others but have an affinity and stubborn loyalty to each other.

Six years earlier, Washington Poe led on the conviction of celebrity chef Jared Keaton for the death of his daughter Elizabeth. Her body was never recovered but the amount of blood found in Jared’s kitchen confirmed the location and that she could never have survived that amount of blood loss. Poe assessed Keaton as a charismatic, talented, psychopath, and deemed him the manifestation of evil.

Back in present times a dishevelled woman walks into a police facility and claims to be Elizabeth and she’s been held captive for over 6 years, where she has been abused and malnourished. DNA tests prove beyond doubt, she is Elizabeth Keaton, and Jared Keaton was, therefore, convicted for a crime that didn’t happen. 

With Jared Keaton being released from prison, the finger of blame is pointing towards Poe. With revenge and incrimination converging on Poe, he reacts the only way he can.

“It was time to stop messing about. He needed to play his wild card. His nuclear option. He unlocked his Blackberry, typed out a four-word message, and sent it into the ether. Four words Keaton couldn’t have planned for, Tilly, I’m in trouble.”

Tilly arrives without delay with her arsenal of computers, peripherals and software that just puts her in a zone where data patterns and data enrichment, provide insights that few can comprehend. Can the skill and resourcefulness of Poe and Tilly resolve the mystery and the looming threats from a psychopath and a legal system both seeking retribution?

In an atmosphere of uncertainty, the tension and menace mounts as Elizabeth disappears again and the criticism falls on Poe. Mike Craven does a masterful job in providing nonstop suspense and suspicion as his plot winds its way through a story that is full of hostility and apprehension. The characters continue to evolve and in particular, Tilly is maturing in her social etiquette, not completely, as this is still causing some light humour. She also has her own team of techie geeks back at the NCA supporting police investigations. I loved the personal battle Poe has with himself, moving from a position of pity and anger at his own past to acknowledging his responsibility and power to change his life. It is brilliant characterisations that draw a reader into admiring or feeling anxious about the growth of a character. Mike is a writer with a wonderful sense of humour and you can see the opportunities he creates to entertain with some very witty and amusing situations.

I would highly recommend reading this book and I’d like to thank Little Brown Book Group and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC copy in return for an honest review.

Peter Donnelly

Founder of The Reading Desk, supporting readers, authors, publishers and book industry. Top Reviewer on Amazon, Goodreads, and NetGalley

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