The Puppet Show, M. W. Craven: Book Review

Ready for a dark thriller? Let me introduce you to The Puppet Show by M. W. Craven

I read this in quite a few sittings because I’ve been in a bit of a slump, and I’m genuinely annoyed at myself because if I knew what the ending held, I would’ve read it in one.

The plot:

He pulls their strings. He watches them burn. Welcome to the Puppet Show…

A serial killer is burning people alive in the Lake District’s prehistorical 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 socially awkward civilian analyst Tilly Bradshaw, the mismatched pair uncover a trail that only Poe is meant to see. The elusive killer has a plan and for some reason Poe is part of it…

It deserves a solid round of applause

I did predict the major aspect of the book but couldn’t even fathom everything else. Normally, I’m quite disappointed if I can guess the ‘who dunnit’, but here’s why I wasn’t disappointed by The Puppet Show in a few notes:

  • What? Why? How? When? Uh, what is going on here please?
  • My prediction was: “hahahaha I bet it’s that guy”, within 50 pages. And listen, I do this all the time and 99.9% of the time, I’m wrong. I think I just got lucky this time around (I did make this guess based on something, but there wasn’t any other logical reasoning behind my prediction apart from “hmm, bit suspicious”);
  • As soon as you find out the reasoning behind the title of the book, as well as why, it deserves a solid round of applause.

I’ve become slightly accustomed to the horror crime scene-y aspects of books, so don’t cringe too much. But Craven’s writing makes me squirm. Just describing certain smells was so well done that I’m glad 4D books aren’t a thang, and I’ve wished for 4D reading a few times. The second half of the book isn’t too squirm-ish, so if you’re a bit worried about that, don’t let it put you off.

I really loved the characters – they all had their individual quirks and Craven does well in depicting this. I pretty much want to be in Tilly’s head, and everything is so tongue-in-cheek with her that you can’t help but laugh at times when you’re not meant to be laughing. With a deep history to Poe, the book is 10x more interesting.

There are quite a lot of chapter ends in The Puppet Show which make you go ‘oooooooooo’ and then force you to carry on reading. The ending was great; I wouldn’t’ve changed a thing and I’d be interested to see what happens in the next book, Black Summer. Hint: there’s a teaser in the back of The Puppet Show. Brace yourself.

I do make quite a lot of facial expressions and verbal cues when reading, and this book didn’t make me gasp, but did make me frown on many occasions just because I was trying to work it out and see where the book was going.

A gripping read but don’t expect lots of plot twists.

Bookmark That approved. An excellent thriller. For fans of Daniel Cole and M J Arlidge.

The Puppet Show, M.W. Craven, RRP £7.99 (paperback); Book Depository 

Pages: 344

Publisher: Constable

Genre: Thriller

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