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 . . .
Book Information: Print length: 451 pages. Publisher: Constable. Publication Date: 3 June 2021
M. W. Craven was born in Carlisle but grew up in Newcastle, running away to join the army at the tender age of sixteen. He spent the next ten years travelling the world having fun, leaving in 1995 to complete a degree in social work with specialisms in criminology and substance misuse. Thirty-one years after leaving Cumbria, he returned to take up a probation officer position in Whitehaven, eventually working his way up to chief officer grade. Sixteen years later he took the plunge, accepted redundancy and became a full-time author. He now has entirely different motivations for trying to get inside the minds of criminals . . .
M. W. Craven is married and lives in Carlisle with his wife, Joanne. When he isn’t out with his springer spaniel, or talking nonsense in the pub, he can be found at punk gigs and writing festivals up and down the country.
This is the fourth book in the series featuring 2 of my favourite fictional characters, Washington Poe and Tilly Bradshaw and if you haven’t read this series yet, I would definitely recommend you start with Book 1 The Puppet Show and read them in order because a) I couldn’t possibly read any series out of order and b) each book gets better and better.
So back to Dead Ground which follows on almost immediately from The Curator and Washington Poe is currently in court trying to save his home when he is requested by M15 to attend a grisly murder which may or may not have serious national security risks involving an important international trade summit.
If you haven’t met Poe yet, the best way to describe him would be a gruff, straight-talking, no-nonsense, determined, dedicated individual who isn’t afraid of anyone or anything and won’t let anything stand in his way with regards to solving crimes and catching the bad guys. He is a law unto himself, bends the rules to suit himself, won’t be told what to do, can’t follow basic instructions but always, always cracks the case. He’s a loner who lives in an isolated croft with his beloved dog, but his relationship with Tilly, gets stronger and stronger with each book and watching their friendship develop is a joy.
Dead Ground covers a lot of ground (see what I did there?), from tortured bodies in pop-up brothels, a bungled bank vault robbery, the Armed Forces and indepth descriptions of the military world during the war in Afghanistan, this book entertains as much as it educates the reader.
It is however, Poe & Tilly’s relationship that makes this series stand out from the rest. There are moments when I can’t help laughing out loud and then there are the tender moments of true friendship and understanding that bring this unlikely duo to life.
Another exciting, entertaining read and I totally recommend it.