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 did I think?
Having absolutely loved The Puppet Show, the first book in the Washington Poe series, I wondered how M.W. Craven could possibly write a book good enough to follow it. Well he's only gone and done it with Black Summer; a book that is as unputdownable as it is unforgettable, but more about that unforgettable part later.
I have to admit to being slightly disappointed that my favourite analyst, Tilly Bradshaw, didn't feature from the start but it's more realistic and in-keeping with Poe's solitary characteristics not to have them joined at the hip. The compelling plot more than made up for Tilly's initial absence and what a plot it is. It had me on the edge of my seat, scratching my head and admittedly holding back a bit of vomit at times. It's so very clever and highly original that it keeps the reader on their toes and I decided to enjoy the ride and save the inevitable headache from trying to second guess the unguessable.
I don't want to give away any spoilers but I just have to mention the unforgettable part of the book for me. It's all down to M.W. Craven's brilliantly vivid and descriptive writing and I now have my own proof that 'the book was better'. The story in Black Summer revolves around a famous chef and there's a particular dish that is served to Poe which had my stomach heaving. I paused to google it and found that the same dish had been featured in the TV show Billions. Now I've seen and enjoyed every episode of Billions but could only vaguely remember the dish in question when I saw images from the episode. M.W. Craven's writing is so exquisitely evocative that reading about something made so much more of an impression than seeing it on the screen. Bravo Mr. Craven!
Black Summer is an outstanding follow up to The Puppet Show and it would read very well as a standalone too. With a breathtakingly brilliant plot and characters that are second to none, Black Summer is an unmissable book. Scooping a full house of stars, this is a very highly recommended book.
I chose to read an ARC in ebook format and then bought a paperback for my M.W. Craven collection; this is my honest and unbiased opinion.
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