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The Puppet Show

(Washington Poe #1)

4.37  ·  Rating details ·  5,898 ratings  ·  1,157 reviews
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 soci
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published June 7th 2018 by Constable
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Average rating 4.37  · 
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 ·  5,898 ratings  ·  1,157 reviews

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May 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
You can always tell if a piece of crime fiction is special and MW Craven's debut marks the arrival of a gifted and natural crime writer with a bright future ahead of him. Set in the sparsely populated Cumbria with its numerous stone circles, Washington Poe, has settled into and fixing up his recently acquired croft, suspended as a DI in the National Crime Agency after being mired in scandal in his last case. He has no intention of returning to his job, but his name has been found carved in the b ...more
The Puppet Show is a fascinatingly dark serial killer hunt that is packed with intrigue, subterfuge, vengeance, and characters that provide such enthralling dynamics that make this a truly outstanding thriller. A brilliant read.

Washington Poe is an ex-Detective Inspector with the Serious Crime Unit and is currently serving a suspension pending an enquiry into how he let confidential police documents fall into the hands of a victim’s family enabling them to take their own revenge. Poe is
Jan 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Washington Poe!
Remember his name!
Tilly Bradshaw
Remember her name!
These are the lead characters in this superb thriller, I have to admit it took me a few chapters to ‘get’ them both but when I did I REALLY did
Washington is a at times a reckless cop with a past and Tilly a phenomenal data analyst ( who speaks and answers literally as she thinks but is bullied at her police job for it )
Together they embark on finding out who is literally burning men to death in Cumbria, there is no motive, no clue
Nilufer Ozmekik
Feb 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: i-m-intrigued
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Melissa (Mel’s Bookshelf)
THIS Ladies and Gentlemen, is how you write a good procedural thriller! WOW! I purchased The Puppet Show when I randomly saw it in Big W. I loved the cover. It wasn't until I got home and looked up the goodreads reviews that I began to get excited! Every one of my friends rated it a 4 or higher so I knew I was going to read something awesome. Absolutely the best police procedural I have read this year! In fact, I would put it as my second favourite start to a police thriller series of all time! ...more
Carolyn Walsh
Feb 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I was completely delighted and enthralled with this gritty, witty and complex police procedural. It is brilliantly plotted, and the characters have depth. It is set in the Lake District of Cumbria with its many stone circles. The award-winning book has gained high praise and did not disappoint.

Washington Poe has been suspended from his position as DI after some confidential information about the identity of a man who murdered a young woman was in a file Poe handed to her father. He is in disgr
May 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Outstanding. DS Washington Poe returns to work for the NCA under a cloud having been suspended for a year following a mistake which led to a mans death. He’s been living in rural isolation in Cumbria. He returns to work to help the unit identity the Immolation Man who burns his victims. Washington is linked in some way to the killer. He works alongside DI Stephanie Flynn and Tilly Bradshaw of the Serious Crimes Analysis Section and what unfolds is gritty and gripping.

There’s so much to admire i
Mali Mor ❤️ The Romantic Blogger

4.5 STARS!

Washington Poe is a brilliant investigator who returns to the police to work on a case of a serial killer known as the "Immolation Man" after his name was found engraved on one of the victims. Poe works with an excellent but lacking in social skills data analyst, named Tilly Bradshaw, who was more accustomed to work in her office than in a crime scenes - she has Asperger's Syndrome and the most intriguing female character I read about in thriller books.
Both Tilly and Poe are isolat
Jun 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
There are three reasons why I requested this - firstly, the endorsements of Peter James and A.A. Dhand, both authors I love. Secondly, the cover, and finally, the synopsis appealed to me as it sounded pretty dark and gruesome. Everything about this book screamed that it was going to be a fantabulous rollercoaster ride!

I appreciated the setting, the Lake District is not very far from my home. I know it can be a very desolate place, so it's ideal for a serial killer to use as his stalking ground,
Feb 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The Puppet Show by M.W. Craven Is the first book in the Washington Poe series and what a fantastic start it is .
It's an addictive read which you won't want to put down, It's fast,dark, twisted with an ending you would never of guessed but will still keep you questioning after you've finished. There are plenty of laugh out loud moments especially when Washington Poe and Tilly Bradshaw are on the same page (I think we all need a Tilly Bradshaw for a friend 😉) it's also so very heartbreaking.
For i
Dec 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is how a Police Procedural should be done!

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

There’s a serial murderer loose in North West England – dubbed the Immolation Man, he burns his victims alive, choosing one of Cumbria’s many stone circle monuments as his kill site. When a suspended, subject of an internal investigation, ex-Detective Inspector’s name, is discovered carved into the charred remains of the third victim’s chest, Washington Po
Jul 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobook
Seeking a high-impact thriller, I was told to explore M.W. Craven’s new series, involving a rogue police detective with a penchant for finding the truth in all crimes. I am pleased that I did, for this series debut left me astounded and wanting to learn a little more about DS Washington Poe. The burning of a number of bodies would have been enough to alert the National Crime Agency (NCA) to a problem, but when one victim had the name of former Detective Inspector Washington Poe etched into the t ...more
Sep 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Wow what a start!! You certainly got my attention. A man is set on fire to after first being tortured!!

Washington Poe has been reinstated with the police to work on a case of finding the “Immolation Man” a serial killer that burns his victims inside stone circles at the Lake District. Washington is working with Tilly Bradshaw a data analyst, more used to being at her desk than a crime scenes. She is innocent and seems to be on the spectrum of being Autistic, lacking social skills but hardworking
Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede
May 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2018
I'm so very pleased to say that The Puppet Show is a fabulous book! I had high hopes, and you know high hopes high falls, so I'm especially glad when I realized not only is the book engrossing to read, it features two new favorite characters Detective Washington Poe and very socially awkward civilian analyst Tilly Bradshaw. Oh, their working relationship makes me think of Ash Henderson and Alice McDonald in Stuart Mcbride's series about Ash Henderson. Poe and Tilly just click, and there are so m ...more
The Book Review Café
May 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: crime
There is nothing more satisfying than coming across a new crime series that sets the pulse racing. I read so many crime thrillers that I find it’s getting more difficult to find one that really excites me, but hells bells The Puppet Show by the very talented M.W. Craven blew my socks off! What a fabulous start to a “must read series”.I knew from the shocker of an opening chapter The Puppet Show was going to be an exhilarating and thrilling read, I loved this novel for so many reasons, with a gri ...more
Mar 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: british, mystery, series, crime
Interesting characters, clever plot, shocking revelations, gripping story set in North West England… You ask what else? First-rate writing! And the best part…there is going to be a second one! Poe and Tilly have easily become two of my favorite characters.

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
-Edmund Burke

Making a horrible mistake in a previous case has put Detective Inspector Washington Poe on suspension. That is, until his name appears carved on a tor
Whispering Stories
Jan 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Book Reviewed by Stacey on

Washington Poe was the Detective Inspector of the National Crime Agency (NCA) until a mistake saw him put on suspension whilst an investigation began into his conduct. He headed home to Cumbria and bought a small house in the middle of a field with no neighbours. He was happily leading a quiet life with just himself and his dog Edgar for company.

That was until acting Detective Inspector Stephanie Flynn showed up with an Osman warning (a police
May 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Oh My Goodness Me! Having read a couple of the authors other books, I knew I would be in for a good reading experience, I hadn't been prepared to be totally blown away though as this book isn't just good, it's brilliant!

There are so many detective books out there that I think it can be hard for an author to make their's stand out. M.W. Craven has well and truly gone for gold with his new series. Poe and Bradshaw have got to be the most amazing characters I have ever come across and it has left m
Lucy Langford
Apr 07, 2020 rated it really liked it

This was a fantastic introduction to an engaging investigative duo, genius Tilly Bradshaw and the disgraced ex-detective Washington Poe. A man dubbed “The Immolation Man” haunts the pages of this book, leaving charred bodies behind in the Lake District’s stone circles. When Poe’s name is found on the third victims charred remains, Poe is brought out of his suspension and solitude to an investigation that doesn’t have many clues.

This book held a great dynamic of a detective duo. I adored Ti
Keith Nixon
May 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A stunning novel that I suspect will be one of the novels of 2018 if not right at the top of the pile. If you read only one book this year make sure it is the puppet show.
Liz Barnsley
May 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The Puppet Show is a brilliantly twisted, horrifically wonderful serial killer thriller where the killer and thriller is totally outdone by the imaginative, engaging and purely emotionally resonant characters.

Ok so we do have a mystery that is intriguing, compelling and utterly riveting whilst being totally hair clutching scary if you stop to just think about it for a moment – but then we have Washington Poe and Tilly Bradshaw – the best literary duo since, well, I don’t know when but a long tim
Feb 02, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Though I have read more than my fair share of crime fiction, I have never truly enjoyed vanilla police procedurals or serial killer stories. The former is too dour, the latter tries too hard to shock. So I often need a further hook like the stories being character driven for me to be interested in a by the numbers procedural. This time I disregarded my own rule and bought into the hype and read The Puppet Show. Huge mistake. This has to be the worst Golden Dagger award winner (the highest award ...more
Feb 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The perfect blend of an engaging murder mystery with a slightly darker tone and feel, alongside two interesting and easy to enjoy characters.
The Puppet Show soon grabs your attention with its short addictive chapters straight from the first chapter.

Disgraced detective Washington Poe is brought back from suspension after the charred remains of a third victim of a serial killers spree bears he’s name.
Partnered with the socially awkward Tilly, the mismatch pair seek to uncover the truth.

I really li
Mandy White (mandylovestoread)
Jun 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: net-galley
The Puppet Show by M W Craven - what a brilliant book! I was hooked straight away - gruesome murders, a disgraced cop and great writing - what's not to love!!

There is a serial killer in the Lake District - and he is burning his victims alive. When the 3rd victim is discovered with the name of Washington Poe on his chest, the suspended cop is returned to duty to work the case. Is it personal - who is doing this and is he next? He is teamed up with Tilly Bradshaw, a socially awkward but brilliant
Alice Lippart
Very stereotypical characters, but such an intriguing, dark and twisted mystery!
Jul 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Excellent from star to finish.
Washington poe and the socially awkward tilly Bradshaw are different in every way imaginable but a brilliant pairing i am straight on to black summer.
Highly recommended.
Jan 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
So here we go springing (or crawling depending on the ratio of fruit:mince pies consumed) into the New Year with a hugely enjoyable serial killer thriller, The Puppet Show from debut author, M. W. Craven. I could easily break this down into a short list of attractive features, as it ticked many boxes for me from the outset. A dryly witty maverick detective with exceptionally cool name, and hints of darkness in his past. Cute doggy called Edgar Poe (great name). Techno nerd providing inadvertent ...more
Lisa *OwlBeSatReading*
Call me a psychic! A five star psychic! I predicted that The Puppet Show was going to be brilliant, and I was bloody right! I knew it! I just knew it!

It gave me those vibes, you know what I mean? You pick up or hear about a book, feeling all attracted to the cover. Come on, we ALL love a bit of sinister looking cover art don't we? The synopsis gives you that 'oooh, this could be juicy' feeling. And it gets put right to the top of that enormous TBR, winking at you, beckoning you to pick it up. Th
Jan 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Well. Wow. What a fantastic read this is. The chilling prologue sets the scene for the rest of the story. Someone is targeting men and burning them alive in stone circles in Cumbria. Who, what and why – disgraced detective Washington Poe is tasked to find out.

Washington Poe. Such a great character. On suspension from the Serious Crime Analysis Section for his mistakes made in a previous case, he has relocated to Cumbria and lives a solitary life. That is until he is visited by DI Stephanie Flynn
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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, eventu ...more

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