Author : M.W. Craven
Title : Dead Ground
Series : Washington Poe #4
Pages : 425
Publisher : Constable / Little Brown UK
Publication date : June 3, 2021
| ABOUT THE BOOK |
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…
| MY THOUGHTS |
All hail Mike Craven and his most excellent Poe & Bradshaw series! Hurrah!
Just when I begin to wonder if maybe I should permanently switch genres after some recent disappointments, along comes Craven to restore my faith in the crime thriller and possibly avert yet another reading slump. Do you really need me to point out that if you’re not reading this series, you are sorely missing out? I thought ‘The Puppet Show‘ was excellent and ‘Black Summer‘ topped that, only to be topped again by the corker that was ‘The Curator‘ and now, here we are with book four ‘Dead Ground‘ and WHAM! Craven does it again, raises that bar just a little higher for himself and his fellow crime authors and delivers his best book yet!
‘Dead Ground‘ starts off with the most remarkable bank heist ever. A bunch of Bond actors break into a vault. However, they don’t actually steal anything but they do leave something behind. A dead body. And a ceramic rat. As you do. That was then. This is now. Poe is in court fighting eviction from his beloved home when men in suits come to take him away. It’s all very secretive but a the body of a man is found in a pop-up brothel (who even knew that was a thing?). He’s been beaten to death with a baseball bat. Straightforward murder or something else? Why were Poe’s services specifically requested for this investigation?
Mike Craven is the Master of Plotting. Is that an award? It should be. I know that once I start reading I might be lucky enough to figure out just a teensie-weensie part of the plot but never the whole thing because this author always manages to hold a little something back. And when that morsel is finally revealed, your jaw drops and you kick yourself because surely you should have seen that bit coming. But no, because you were bedazzled by a whole slew of other things and being all smug for figuring something out way beforehand and obviously this author is just a lot smarter (or devious) than you are. I hope it goes without saying that when I say “you”, I actually mean “me”.
I don’t want to say anything else about the plot. It seems a given that the (not) bank heist and the murder-by-baseball-bat are somehow related but I couldn’t even guess as to how or why. The road to the answers is a twisty one and I enjoyed every single minute of it.
Poe and Bradshaw are the most fantastic pairing ever. They work incredibly well together, despite them being polar opposites. Like Poe, most of what Tilly says goes right over my head and I love that because it’s relatable. I love that in the middle of some dark, disturbing and sometimes gruesome events Mike Craven is able to add in a dash of humour and I hope Tilly never stops asking what certain terms unknown to her actually mean.
‘Dead Ground‘ pulled me in from the get-go and did not let go. I was enormously annoyed when I had to put it down for whatever reason. It’s incredibly addictive, especially because it feels as if every single chapter ends on a cliffhanger and you just have to keep turning the pages. Like I said at the beginning of this here ramble, this series is crazy good and this latest instalment is the best one yet. An absolute belter and I can’t recommend it (and its predecessors) enough! I already can’t wait for The Botanist.
20 Books of Summer : 7/20