Review Blog

Jun 26 2020

Black Summer by M. W. Craven

cover image

Washington Poe. Little, Brown, 2019. ISBN: 9781472127495.
(Age: Adult - Senior secondary) Recommended for readers who enjoy the mystery genre. Jared Keaton, Michelin Star chef, is in jail for the murder of his daughter Elizabeth. Detective Sergeant Washington Poe was largely instrumental in his conviction, although Elizabeth's body was never found. Then Poe finds himself in danger of losing his job and worse when a young woman claiming to be Elizabeth turns up after claiming to have been held captive for the last six years.Her blood tests match that of Elizabeth, and Poe with the help of the brilliant Tilly Bradshaw, must work out how someone can be both dead and alive at the same time.
This was an intriguing mystery with the problem of blood at its heart. Craven had obviously researched the science of this intensively and this scientific evidence made the plot quite different to any I had read before. There were many twists and turns, quite a few heart stopping moments for Poe and some clever research by Tilly, as Poe followed many clues in his attempt to prove that the girl claiming to be Elizabeth could not be her, even though her blood matched that of Jared Keaton's daughter.
The background of cold and stormy Cumbria, what happens in a master chef's kitchen, where truffles can be found, and old war bunkers all make for an absorbing mystery.
Craven won the CWA Gold Dagger Award 2019 for The Puppet Show which I will be sure to pick up now that I have met Poe and Bradshaw. Black summer can be read as a stand-alone as the characters and setting are described vividly.
Pat Pledger

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