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Wednesday, 3 June 2020

‘The Curator’ by M.W. Craven

Tomorrow sees the publication of
The Curator
by M. W. Craven,
Winner of the 2019 CWA Gold Dagger for
The Puppet Show.
The Curator
is the third in the highly aclaimed series featuring Washington Poe.

Published by Constable,
4 June 2020.
ISBN: 978-1-47213-196-6 (HB)

The author is a CWA award-winning writer, and this is the third high-octane thriller that features the canny, redoubtable duo of Washington Poe and his sidekick, gifted data analyst Tilly Bradshaw of the National Crime Agency.

A sickening, apparently motiveless, serial killer is on the loose severing body parts and dumping three pairs of fingers, one male and two female in three different locations at  Happy Christmas time in Cumbria leaving the tantalising code # BSC6 at each crime scene.

The absence of corpses at first renders the identification of the victims almost impossible but after some unconventional, painstaking detective work it eventually transpires that the three comprise a sex offender, a shop assistant and a manager employed by the MoD who appear to have nothing in common to link them.

The momentum never slackens, and the plot gets darker and more complex as one is drawn deeper into the grisly accounts of the deaths.    Clues   slowly emerge. What prompted all the victims to take the same two weeks leave from work some years earlier?  The team seems to hit a dead end until new information emanates from a cold-shouldered FBI agent who gets in touch with Poe and voices   strongly held suspicions that the perpetrator is someone who loftily calls himself The Curator.

The dynamic between Poe and Bradshaw is what creates the buoyancy.  In the words of the 1955 song crooned by Frank Sinatra “They go together like a horse and carriage…you can’t have one without the other.”  This disturbing and intricately plotted story, with its twists and turns includes all the ingredients —pace, dialogue, characterisation, intrigue, dark humour, suspense, multi-layering— that combine to produce an exhilarating, challenging, confounding read.  Highly recommended.
Reviewer: Serena Fairfax

M. W. Craven was born in Carlisle but grew up in Newcastle. He joined the army at sixteen, leaving ten years later to complete a social work degree. Seventeen years after taking up a probation officer role in Cumbria, at the rank of assistant chief officer, he became a full-time author. The Puppet Show, the first in a two-book deal he signed with the Little Brown imprint, Constable in 2017, was released in hardback in June 2018. And won the CWA Gold Dagger Award 2019. The Curator is the third book in the series.

Serena Fairfax spent her childhood in India, qualified as a lawyer in England and practised in London for many years. She began writing by contributing feature articles to legal periodicals   then turned her hand to fiction. Having published nine novels all, bar one, hardwired with a romantic theme, she has also written short stories and accounts of her explorations off the beaten track that feature on her blog. A tenth, distinctly unromantic, novel is a work in progress. Thrillers, crime and mystery narratives, collecting old masks and singing are a few of her favourite things.

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