Wednesday 9 June 2021

BLOG TOUR: Dead Ground (Washington Poe #4) - M.W. Craven

Detective Sergeant Washington Poe is in court, fighting eviction from his beloved and isolated croft, when he is summoned to a backstreet brothel in Carlisle where a man has been beaten to death with a baseball bat. Poe is confused - he hunts serial killers and this appears to be a straightforward murder-by-pimp - but his attendance was requested personally, by the kind of people who prefer to remain in the shadows.

As Poe and the socially awkward programmer Tilly Bradshaw delve deeper into the case, they are faced with seemingly unanswerable questions: despite being heavily vetted for a high-profile job, why does nothing in the victim's background check out? Why was a small ornament left at the murder scene - and why did someone on the investigation team steal it? And what is the connection to a flawlessly executed bank heist three years earlier, a heist where nothing was taken . . .

What did I think?

Brilliant!  What more can I say?  M.W. Craven has done it again: Dead Ground is another outstanding Poe and Bradshaw page-turner that had me gripped from start to finish.  It feels like Mike Craven has upped the ante with his fourth novel in this brilliant series by adding intricate layers of cleverness and complexity to the plot that really gave my old grey matter a good workout.

You could definitely read Dead Ground as a standalone as it's a mighty fine mystery thriller in its own right, however, it's the development of the characters throughout the series that sets it head and shoulders above other books in the genre.  Opening with a very unusual historical crime that seems to have a link with a present day murder the investigating agency calls upon Poe and Bradshaw to assist them.  Working with another agency has its challenges as information is not as free flowing as Poe would like, so it's just as well that Tilly has her own way of finding things out.

Reading the Washington Poe books in order shows the stunning character development that has taken place over the course of the series.  Poe's fiercely loyal relationship with Tilly Bradshaw is so protective that it's almost fatherly.  Tilly is so honest and naive that she is often the target of jokers and the way that Poe seems to have a sixth sense about such things taking place is awesome.  Tilly is lucky to have Poe on her side and vice versa as Tilly is an invaluable asset in solving crimes.  The pair usually work alongside DI Stephanie Flynn but Flynn is on maternity leave so the terrific trio are a dynamic duo in this instalment.

I loved the personal story involving Poe's home that had me fist pumping the air when he gets his day in court but like real life, it doesn't quite go to plan and he is forced to swap his court case for a murder case.  The murder mystery part of the book is simply outstanding and I had no idea what direction it was going in, surprising me at every twist and turn.  It's another standing ovation from me when I finished the book and realised just how clever it actually was.

Dead Ground is an exceptional novel; it's fast-paced, gripping and unputdownable (especially with little cliffhangers at the end of each chapter ensuring that you read 'just one more' chapter until there are none left).  With twists and turns that left me dizzy, M.W. Craven proves that he is the Master of Misdirection in this impossible to predict and action-packed novel.  So very highly recommended - both this novel and the whole series.

I received an ARC to read and review for the blog tour; this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

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