Jared Keaton, chef to the stars, is charming, charismatic and a psychopath. He’s currently serving a life sentence for the brutal murder of his daughter, Elizabeth. Her body was never found but Keaton was convicted largely on the testimony of Detective Sergeant Washington Poe.
So when a young woman staggers into a remote police station with irrefutable evidence that she is Elizabeth Keaton, Poe finds himself on the wrong end of an investigation, one that could cost him much more than his career.
Helped by the only person he trusts, the brilliant but socially awkward Tilly Bradshaw, Poe races to answer the only question that matters: how can someone be both dead and alive at the same time?
And then Elizabeth goes missing again – and all paths of investigation lead back to Poe.
Regular readers of the blog will know that I loved ‘The Puppet Show‘ by M.W. Craven (you can check out my review here) and was dying to read ‘Black Summer‘. Thanks to the generosity of M.W. Craven, who I have been fortunate enough to interview twice this year, I got an advance copy of ‘Black Summer‘.
I loved ‘The Puppet Show‘ so much that I thought Craven had given himself a tough job in trying to top it but I shouldn’t have worried: ‘Black Summer‘ is an absolute triumph. As with the first Washington Poe novel, Craven evokes locations perfectly, using the beauty of the Lake District in contrast to the brutality of the crimes Poe is investigating.
The relationship between Poe and Tilly Bradshaw, his brilliant but socially awkward colleague, has progressed since the first book in the series as the pair continue to be an investigative dream team. Craven’s ability to balance drama with humour is testament to his skill as a writer. Bradshaw and Poe’s friendship often provides some light relief when things get really dark.
One of the most impressive elements of ‘Black Summer‘ is the character of Jared Keaton who is one of the most repugnant villains I think I have ever encountered. The back and forth between Poe and Keaton is well-written with their conflict leading to Poe finding himself in a jam that may prove too difficult even for him to get out of .
M.W. Craven’s Washington Poe series continues to get stronger.
Posted in Books, reviews
Tagged book, character, characters, drama, friendship, humour, locations, novel, relationship, series, villains, writer, written
Since then, our paths have crossed a couple of times and it’s always a pleasure.
My thanks to Miriam for taking the time to chat to us today.
Do you have a favourite memory professionally from 2017?
I chaired panels at Newcastle Noir and Bloody Scotland. Both of these were great memories. At Newcastle Noir I had the late night slot on the Saturday entitled ‘Presenting The Case.’ I was so pleased the room was full and we had lots of interesting chat and laughs with the panel and audience. After being involved in this festival for 3 years I finally got to see some of the city, try a stottie and found a wee jazz bar. There were lots of special moments with friends at Bloody Scotland and I enjoyed trying something different on The Dark Lands panel. We asked Norwegian author Thomas Enger to play some music he had composed for a character in one of his books which was beautiful. The panel was made even more memorable by Thomas and Icelandic author Ragnar Jonasson marching on to the stage with the Bloody Scotland Football Trophy held high. They both played for the Scottish team this year and we won!
Photo by @Timea
And how about a favourite moment from 2017 generally?
Finally making it up to the northern Outer Hebrides in the summer of 2017 was great. I have always wanted to see Luskentyre Beach and it was truly stunning. We arrived in a storm, struggled to find our accommodation off a single track road then woke up the next day to sunshine and to find Luskentyre was literally over a sand dune from our front door. We also got to spend some quality time on a croft in Uist with friends as well which was long overdue. I went to Dublin for one night to meet friends from Nova Scotia who were over visiting Ireland, that trip was a blast.
Favourite book in 2017?
My favourite book of 2017 was The Man Who Died by Antti Tuomainen. The story is dark and funny and totally appeared to my sense of humour. Antti has a twinkle in his eye at the best of times and I can easily imagine him chuckling away to himself as he wrote it.
Photo by Orenda
Favourite film in 2017?
Alien Covenant was decent and Series 3 of Fargo was brilliant. The TV adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaids Tale was utterly terrifying.
Favourite song of the year?
Hearing New Focus play their album On Song live at the Tolbooth in Stirling was amazing. I also heard Phil Bancroft play Sonny Rollins Freedom Suite in Edinburgh which was quite astounding.
Any downsides for you in 2017?
Brexit plus a conservative MP being elected in my constituency is pretty depressing. Anything involving the words Boris or Trump is utterly unbelievable. The lack of compassion, empathy or responsibility by those in powerful positions frustrates the hell out of me.
Are you making resolutions for 2018?
I don’t make resolutions. Every day brings new challenges. I always try to do my best, remain positive and think about the bigger picture.
What are you hoping for from 2018?
To be happy, healthy, learning and exploring and to have love in my life.
I am also starting a major piece of research around Nordic branding and do-it yourself culture (eg Noir at the Bar) in live literary events in the Marketing Department of Strathclyde Business School in Glasgow. I hope 2018 brings lots of discussion, events to go to and peace and quiet to study. If you want to talk to me about this piece of work please email me.
Posted in End of Year Reviews, Review of 2017
Tagged Bloody Scotland, book, character, Edinburgh, festival, friends, humour, literary, Music, Newcastle Noir, Noir at the Bar, panel, panels, write, writer, writers, writing, wrote