I am delighted to share my review today for The Botanist by M.W. Craven. This is the 5th book in the Washington Poe series and as with all the other books, I adored this one.
Any regulars to my Blog may be aware that I am prone to read books in a series out of order. It is sometimes because it’s a book that I have seen on NetGalley and requested or it has caught my eye as part of a Blog Tour.
The Washington Poe series I have followed from the start and each book has been read in order. Yep, I am very proud of myself 🙂
‘I swear I’m one bad mood away from calling it black magic and going home . . .’
Detective Sergeant Washington Poe can count on one hand the number of friends he has. And he’d still have his thumb left. There’s the insanely brilliant, guilelessly innocent civilian analyst, Tilly Bradshaw of course. He’s known his beleaguered boss, Detective Inspector Stephanie Flynn for years as he has his nearest neighbour, full-time shepherd/part-time dog sitter, Victoria.
And then there’s Estelle Doyle. It’s true the caustic pathologist has never walked down the sunny side of the street but this time has she gone too far? Shot twice in the head, her father’s murder appears to be an open and shut case. Estelle has firearms discharge residue on her hands, and, in a house surrounded by fresh snow, hers are the only footprints going in. Since her arrest, she’s only said three words: ‘Tell Washington Poe.’
Meanwhile, a poisoner the press has dubbed the Botanist is sending high-profile celebrities poems and pressed flowers. The killer seems to be able to walk through walls and, despite the advance notice he gives his victims, and regardless of the security measures the police take, he seems to be able to kill with impunity.
For a man who hates locked room mysteries, this is going to be the longest week of Washington Poe’s life . . .
This is yet another fantastic book in the Washington Poe series, to be honest though, I wouldn’t expect anything less. These books can be read as standalones, but to get a real sense of the working relationship between Poe, Tilly, Doyle and Flynn you really need to have started this from the beginning. And, also because they are great books.
This starts from an odd place and is very far from Cumbria. The author gives a quick prologue before returning back to what is the start of the case. In fact, there are not one but two cases in this story. One involves the arrest of Estelle Doyle, the teams go to a pathologist as she has just been arrested for murdering her father. Then there is the case, well it is more than one case, of people being poisoned.
With Poe trying to be in two places at one time, something is going to have to give. Wanting to be there for his friend and colleague Doyle is great but also too personal and it doesn’t look good when he is seen visiting Doyle in prison when someone who he is supposed to be protecting dies. Realising he has to prioritise his focus he again looks at the poisoning cases.
The dynamics between Poe and Tilly have become legendary in this series, if you have read them from the beginning then you will know what I mean. But there are also the dynamics of Flynn and Doyle that are also part of this great crime-busting outfit. Flynn is responsible for keeping things within the law and getting requests signed off, Tilly is the tech genius, Doyle is the Pathologist and Poe is usually the one they are all keeping an eye on to make sure he does wander too far off course. Together they all bring something special. Over the course of the books, this team have become a family and they will fight for each other.
Having two cases, one looking like a locked-room mystery and the other one that is leaving them playing catch up with the killer always ahead of them. Even with their combined expertise, this would be tough, but without having input from Doyle, things are even tougher.
The poisoner is clever, plans well, thinks out the scenarios and is not compulsive. It seems he has thought of everything. He is being talked about and tweeted about and people are noticing him.
The author really has done an amazing job with this story. Again it is complex and compulsive reading. There are mentions of tech, biology and other specialist stuff but it isn’t too over the top. Thank goodness things have to be basic for Poe to understand or else there would be a few confused readers as well!
With time being a crucial part of this story, the pacing is fast and the author conveys this through his characters so well. He shows their frustrations and occasionally odd outburst. Even in the midst of this tense and highly charged investigation, there are some amazing one-liners, these are perfect for defusing stress and tension, and are usually courtesy of Tilly.
If you have not read any of the books in this series then you really are missing out on some wonderful top-rate crime thrillers. The series just gets better and better with so many twists and unexpected events. I never read the synopsis for a Washington Poe book I just buy it.
Ideal for those who love twisted, complex and totally addictive thrillers and one I would absolutely recommend.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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 usually be found at punk gigs and writing festivals up and down the country.
You can find out more on his Goodreads Author Page.
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