Black Summer by M. W. Craven reviewed

Black Summer Book Cover Black Summer
Washington Poe
M. W. Craven
Little, Brown Book Group UK
December 12, 2019

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.

What an intriguing start to Black Summer by M. W. Craven. It may not be particularly pleasant but it ends with Washington Poe being arrested. The book then goes back 2 weeks before his arrest to look at the events leading up to it. The story relates to a case solved by Poe a few years back. A celebrity chef was found guilty of murdering his daughter and has spent 6 years in prison so far. A young woman goes into a remote police station claiming to be his daughter. She appears to have irrefutable evidence of her identity. This leads to a call to Poe with the simple line “Poe we have a problem”. This is almost the catchphrase for this book!

Earlier this year I read The Puppet Show which was the first Washington Poe book. I really enjoyed it and so was very pleased to be able to read this follow up, Black Summer. It would be better to read book 1 before this to get the background to the characters I think. I doubt it is essential but I do think it would add to the enjoyment of this one. The book follows Poe’s attempts to effectively clear his name as a result of this miscarriage of justice. He finds that he has few people of his side but he does have Tilly Bradshaw again.

I guess one of the aspects of both these books I’ve enjoyed is the relationship between Poe and Tilly. To call Tilly awkward is something of an understatement. The same can be said of calling her brilliant! This book builds on this relationship nicely. The story itself is good and well worked. The writing makes for an easy read – one of those ones where you think “I’ll just read one more chapter”…

I actually don’t think this is flawless. I have a concern about one aspect of the case although there is an attempt to address it in the book. That said I thoroughly enjoyed reading Black Summer as I did the last. At times it is dark and brooding – a little like the Lake District that is the main setting. Equally there are glimpses of the sun and parts that entertain in a lighter way. Anyone who read The Puppet Show should enjoy this one in my opinion. I really do hope that there will be a book 3. I will definitely be reading it.

Note – I received an advance digital copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair review