The Puppet Show: A Review

To say that The Puppet Show is just another great crime novel would be an understatement and do a great disservice to the novel and its author. Reading this novel sent me down a journey filled with moral dilemmas, proving once more that people (especially men) all have the capacity for evil inside them. The Puppet Show by M.W. Craven was published on Thursday, 7 June 2018.

The story

The Puppet Show by M.W. Craven follows characters from the NCA, Washington Poe, Tilly, DI Stephanie Flynn and DS Reid from Cumbria police as they attempt to uncover the serial killer mystery happening in stone circles in the local area. With a simple ‘whodunnit’ structure, Craven is able to mould the narrative to fit his characters and develop them, taking them down a path of self-contemplation and reflection. With a few red herrings and major plot twists that you will not see coming in a good way, The Puppet Show really is a thing of excellence.

Why I liked it…
I enjoyed The Puppet Show by M.W. Craven because it was a psychological crime thriller which made me question who was on the side of good. The way that Craven weaves the plot together often made me feel like whoever Poe was in agreement with was in the right, right to the very end. Because he uses the normal crime structure, Craven gives himself the chance to introduce his main characters and develop them until you have an understanding of why they think the way that they think; without this context, I would not have fallen in love with Poe the way that I did.
My favourite character has to be Tilly, yet without Poe, she would have stayed an underestimated geek working for the NCA finding critical information, but not necessarily adding a lot of physical value to the team. I thought that Craven had written her delightfully; she is innocent and young to the core, yet often deserves so much more and better from her colleagues. Her unwavering loyalty to Poe is admirable and sweet, while cementing her personality and relationship with him. I enjoy it to the point that it makes me think of an uncle-niece relationship. Poe and Flynn were also greatly developed characters, and I am excited to learn more about the both of them in the next book in the series. Craven gives such attention to his characters that you can imagine them often speaking to you, their tone of voice, dialect and general mannerisms. I often felt like I could picture Poe, Reid and Flynn throughout the novel.
While I understand his choice of Poe as the main character, I often found myself wondering what would be going through Tilly’s mind as she uncovered these facts and dark secrets after living such a sheltered existence. I would love to see the story told from her perspective, both as a genius and as a truly good person.

I did not not like any aspect of this book. I felt that it was beautifully written, with descriptions of the stone circles offering great context considering I’ve never seen them, brilliant character introductions and development and a great sense of plot, twisting, turning and murdering the whole way through. I really do enjoy it when an author includes a moral dilemma in their work and the one in The Puppet Show is quite striking and will leave you up at night wondering what you would have done in a similar situation.

Overall, The Puppet Show by M.W. Craven is an excellent book which has introduced me to a group of great characters who I look forward to getting to know further (I also really hope that Poe visits his dad). I would recommend this novel to any regular crime readers, lovers of horror, serial killer thrillers and people who live in and around the stone circles area. The Puppet Show is out now from Little, Brown. Thank you to Net Galley and M.W. Craven himself for my advance e-copy of the novel and a great launch party!

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