When I started reading this third novel in Mike Craven’s police crime series I realised just how much I had missed Washington Poe and Tilly Bradshaw from the National Crime Agency (NCA). Mike has struck gold with this partnership and I find myself more captivated during scenes with them in it. Poe has an astute probing investigative mind that utilises an instinct when the evidence doesn’t always line up, or even when it does for everyone else but his gut tells him something isn’t quite right. Tilly is the socially awkward but gifted data analyst who sees crucial information in data. She is adorable and her dialogue is funny in its candid innocence, with Poe often jumping in to distract the recipient.
DSI Jo Nightingale calls in the NCA team, under the leadership of DI Stephanie Flynn, after three pairs of fingers are found in public places, all with a reference to a code #BSC6. Nothing seems to connect the victims, no obvious personal, social or work links, and even the amputation of the fingers is inconsistent. The story is brilliantly plotted with intricate complexity that is layered and layered to keep you guessing. Even after elements of the investigation are solved there are other details gradually revealed and the chase continues. Who is the real mastermind and what was the real motive? I often wonder how you could genuinely play chess with yourself but Mike has figured it out.
A call from a discredited FBI agent suggests the crimes fit the profile of someone she claims is the Curator. Someone who has a fascinating strategy for manipulating people into escalating crimes until murder is an option. A devious psychopath that remains invisible, even digitally, and seemingly doesn’t make mistakes.
“When you think you’ve figured out what the Curator’s up to, you’re normally exactly where he wants you to be.”
There is a great range of personalities on display, from supportive and empathetic to psychotic and evil. The friendship between Poe and Tilly continues to deepen with an unbridled loyalty and commitment to each other. Stephanie Flynn is becoming a close proponent of them, but since she is heavily pregnant this is one case she should sit out.
The Curator is a truly outstanding police thriller, with a perplexing plot, layers of mystery and investigation, ruthless and gruesome murder, enthralling suspense and of course my favourite pair of crime fighters. I highly recommend this book and I would like to thank Little Brown Book Group UK and NetGalley for providing me with a free ARC copy in return for an honest review.