Book Review: The Puppet Show

(Washington Poe #1)
06.07.2018 | Constable
Rating: 5/5 stars


The Immolation Man is a serial killer from your nightmares. He is hunting seemingly random victims to burn alive in the Lake District’s prehistoric stone circles. He leaves no clues. The police have no leads.

When disgraced detective, Washington Poe’s name is found on the latest victim, the department makes the decision to bring him back from suspension and participate in the investigation. Paired up with socially awkward analyst, Tilly Bradshaw, the duo is able to get the first hints at finding the killer. As they dig deeper they realize there is much more to this case than meets the eye. The killer has a plan and they won’t stop until they’ve completed it.


Fans of police procedurals have found the book they’ve always wanted in THE PUPPET SHOW! This book has a dynamic cast, an intricate and unique story, and a killer that will fascinate the reader. The story launches straight into the killer’s mind as they are in the act of murdering their latest victim. While this is the only direct narration from the killer’s perspective, it serves as a fantastic starting point. The reader is immediately intrigued and interested in what is motivating this person to commit such horrific acts.

Walking into a police procedural can often make me weary of overused cliches, however, THE PUPPET SHOW delivers on all the ingredients needed to make a book in this genre work. Craven stays away from the standard reasons for Washington Poe being a disgraced detective. He’s not an alcoholic trying to work through his problems. We actually aren’t clear on what has happened initially, which made me want to get to know him better. The addition of Tilly Bradshaw, a socially awkward analyst who becomes Poe’s partner really helps draw his character out. Reading about the two of them working together was fun and heartfelt. You could feel their connection through their differences, which truly highlighted why they were able to work together so well.


In addition to our two main characters of Poe and Bradshaw, we are also given other members of the team that Poe has put together who ultimately assist in leading to the discovery of the killer. These additional team members bring a fantastic balance to the main partnership, as well as allow the reader to gleam new information on the killer from their discoveries.

For me what sets THE PUPPET SHOW apart was the storyline that Craven built around the killer. There is so much more than what lies on the surface of this case. There is history that the reader gets to explore with Poe and Bradshaw that helps the reader understand the motivations behind why these victims were targeted. Perhaps the best part of the story is the finale or the grand reveal where the killer gets to lay it all out for the reader. This is such a tense part of the book that I couldn’t put it down until I hit the last page!

I am thrilled that this book is just the start of a series and that there are more cases to solve with Poe and Bradshaw in the future. I’m already putting the next installment, BLACK SUMMER, on my to buy list!

This book is available to buy from: Amazon | Book Depository

Disclosure: What Jess Reads is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to This in no way influences my opinion of the above book.

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