Although he was born in Cumbria, Mike Craven grew up in the North East before running away to join the army when he turned sixteen. After training as an armourer for two and a half years, he spent the next ten travelling the world having fun. In 1995 he left the army and completed a degree in social work, with specialisms in criminology, psychology and substance misuse. In 1999 he joined Cumbria Probation Service as a probation officer, working his way up to chief officer grade. Sixteen years later, he took the plunge and accepted redundancy to concentrate on writing. He now has entirely different motivations for trying to get inside the minds of criminals. Between leaving the army and securing his first publishing deal, Mike found time to keep a pet crocodile, breed snakes, survive cancer and get married. He lives in Carlisle with his wife, Joanne, and his springer spaniel, Bracken.
As far as booky thrills, entertainment, and satisfaction goes, I declare this is pure reading gold and a LoveReading Star Book. Washington Poe and Tilly Bradshaw are back, their skills are needed for two investigations. They unofficially involve themselves in the first after their friend Estelle Doyle is arrested for murder, and in the second a formidable poisoner is courting social media. The Washington Poe series sits towards the very top of my favourites of all time. It started with the Crime Writers’ Association Gold Dagger Award Winning The Puppet Show and here we are at book five, each and every one has been fabulous and The Botanist joins the team in swaggering style. I’m actually not quite sure how M.W. Craven does it, he maintains the most exquisite balance of blurt-worthy humour, eyebrow-raising plots, and as for the characters! Each and every person to step on the page becomes fully formed in my minds-eye, even if on the page for a moment. I rubbed my hands with glee when I realised that we had a locked room mystery on our hands and my second, third, and fourth thoughts were feverishly working away in the background as I settled in and sank into the pages. Poe and Tilly, or the reactions of others to Poe and Tilly had me snorting with laughter. They are almost polar opposites, and their friendship is heart-warming in its genuine simplicity. The plot more than happily allowed me to feel chuffed as I started to work certain aspects out before it slammed the door shut again. Oh, and I loved, loved, loved that ending! Sharply focused with on-point humour, and somehow joyfully warming while hunting the most chilling of foes, The Botanist is my current favourite of the series (each one always is). Yet again I will be haunting the book aisles until the next appears.
Poe's just hanging around on a Saturday afternoon... Dangling from a hook in a meat packing plant isn't how Detective Sergeant Washington Poe wants to spend his weekend. He's been punched and kicked and threatened, and when a contract killer arrives it seems things are about to go from bad to worse. He goes by the name of the Pale Man and he and his straight-edged razor have been feared all over London for twenty years. But Poe knows two things the Pale Man doesn't. Although it might seem like a hopeless situation, Poe has planned to be here all along. More importantly, a nerdy, computer whizz-kid called Tilly Bradshaw is watching his back. And now things are about to get interesting . . .
A ferociously entertaining, sharply amusing, hard-hitting wow of a read. DS Washington Poe and programmer Tilly Bradshaw are faced with an apparently clear cut case that becomes more convoluted the deeper they delve. Excuse me while I rave about this book and series, it’s worth hearing me out! M.W. Craven is winner of the Crime Writers’ Association Gold Dagger Award for his first in this series, The Puppet Show, and the other two books have been long-listed for the Gold Dagger which in itself should tell you just how good this series really is. The combination of superbly readable characters, thrilling plots, and authentic voice ensure these novels are always on my must-read list. M.W. Craven’s mind just blows me away, he is able to hook, twist, and throw my thoughts as well as make me cackle like a demented thing. Poe and Tilly are among my favourite characters in the crime fiction world, they are both treasures (of the reading variety) waiting to be found if you’ve not yet met them. A stunner of a stimulating ride, Dead Ground comes with a whopping thumbs up from me, and of course it’s one of my Liz Robinson Picks of the Month.
After The Puppet Show, a new storm is coming . . . Jared Keaton, chef to the stars. Charming. Charismatic. Psychopath . . . He's currently serving a life sentence for the brutal murder of his daughter, Elizabeth. Her body was never found and 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.
One of my all-time favourite series’ began with The Puppet Show, a serial-killer thriller like no other. The story follows the hunt for a killer who is burning people alive in the Lake District’s stone circles. I read much of this one through my fingers, by turns flinching and laughing out loud as Mike Craven has this rare ability to combine the macabre with effortless humour, a frantic pace and, in Washington Poe and Tilly Bradshaw, the kind of odd couple protagonists that see me counting each day until their return. Wildly entertaining and not for the faint of heart. Selected by Chris Whitaker, Our Spring 2022 Guest Editor. Click here to read the full Guest Editor Piece.
'Mesmerising, macabre and murderously funny. The Botanist is M.W. Craven at his sinister best. I couldn't love this series more' Chris Whitaker 'Another classy thriller from the king of Cumbrian crime' Paul Finch '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 have 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 . . . Praise for The Botanist: 'Unputdownable, gripping, clever and with a rich seam of trademark Craven humour running through it' Imran Mahmood 'A sinful treat' Vaseem Khan 'Fast, furious, and utterly enjoyable.' Keith Nixon Praise for M W Craven: 'Heart-pounding, hilarious, sharp and shocking, Dead Ground is further proof that M.W. Craven never disappoints. Miss this series at your peril.' Chris Whitaker 'Dark and entertaining, this is top rank crime fiction.' Vaseem Khan, Author of the Malabar House series and the Baby Ganesh Agency series 'M. W. Craven is one of the best crime writers working today. Dead Ground is a cracking puzzle, beautifully written, with characters you'll be behind every step of the way. It's his best yet.' Stuart Turton 'Fantastic' Martina Cole 'Dark, sharp and compelling' Peter James 'I've been following M.W. Craven's Poe/Tilly series from the very beginning, and it just gets better and better. Dead Ground is a fast-paced crime novel with as many twists and turns as a country lane. I can't wait for the next one.' Peter Robinson 'Dead Ground is both entertaining and engaging with great characters and storyline. I loved this first dip into the world of Tilly and Poe!' BA Paris 'A brutal and thrilling page turner' Natasha Harding, The Sun 'A thrilling curtain raiser for what looks set to be a great new series' Mick Herron 'A powerful thriller from an explosive new talent. Tightly plotted, and not for the faint hearted!' David Mark 'A gripping start to a much anticipated new series' Vaseem Khan 'Satisfyingly twisty and clever and the flashes of humour work well to offer the reader respite from the thrill of the read.' Michael J. Malone 'Nothing you've ever read will prepare you for the utterly unique Washington Poe' Keith Nixon
'Fantastic' Martina Cole 'Dark, sharp and compelling' Peter James 'A thrilling curtain raiser for what looks set to be a great new series' Mick Herron Detective Sergeant Washington Poe is in court, fighting eviction from his beloved and isolated croft, when he is summoned to a backstreet brothel in Carlisle where a man has been beaten to death with a baseball bat. Poe is confused - he hunts serial killers and this appears to be a straightforward murder-by-pimp - but his attendance was requested personally, by the kind of people who prefer to remain in the shadows. As Poe and the socially awkward programmer Tilly Bradshaw delve deeper into the case, they are faced with seemingly unanswerable questions: despite being heavily vetted for a high-profile job, why does nothing in the victim's background check out? Why was a small ornament left at the murder scene - and why did someone on the investigation team steal it? And what is the connection to a flawlessly executed bank heist three years earlier, a heist where nothing was taken . . . Praise for M W Craven: 'A brutal and thrilling page turner' Natasha Harding, The Sun 'A powerful thriller from an explosive new talent. Tightly plotted, and not for the faint hearted!' David Mark 'A gripping start to a much anticipated new series' Vaseem Khan 'Satisfyingly twisty and clever and the flashes of humour work well to offer the reader respite from the thrill of the read.' Michael J. Malone 'Nothing you've ever read will prepare you for the utterly unique Washington Poe' Keith Nixon
'Dark, sharp and compelling' PETER JAMES 'Fantastic' MARTINA COLE 'Britain's answer to Harry Bosch' MATT HILTON 'If you haven't read M W Craven yet, now is the time to start' Abir Mukherjee ______________________ It's Christmas and a serial killer is leaving displayed body parts all over Cumbria. A strange message is left at each scene: #BSC6 Called in to investigate, the National Crime Agency's Washington Poe and Tilly Bradshaw are faced with a case that makes no sense. Why were some victims anaesthetized, while others died in appalling agony? Why is their only suspect denying what they can irrefutably prove but admitting to things they weren't even aware of? And why did the victims all take the same two weeks off work three years earlier? And when a disgraced FBI agent gets in touch things take an even darker turn. Because she doesn't think Poe is dealing with a serial killer at all; she thinks he's dealing with someone far, far worse - a man who calls himself the Curator. And nothing will ever be the same again . . . Praise for Black Summer: 'Truly mind-blowing' A. A. Dhand 'A book that shines with tension, wit and invention' William Shaw 'Washington Poe - a rising giant in detective fiction' Alison Bruce 'A twisty thriller with a killer plot Ed James 'I loved this book!' Jo Jakeman 'One of the best British crime novels I've read in a long time . . . Simply an unputdownable page-turner' Nick Oldham 'Grabs you from the very first page. A dark and brilliantly twisted crime thriller, bringing back the inimitable Washington Poe and Tilly Bradshaw' Colin Falconer 'Dark and twisted in all the right places. Poe is a great mix of compelling, complex & charismatic, and well on his way to becoming one of the standout characters in crime fiction' Robert Scragg 'In Tilly and Poe, MW Craven has created a stand-out duo who are two of the most compelling characters in crime fiction in recent years. They deserve to join the ranks of Holmes and Watson, Rebus and Clarke, Hill and Jordan . . .' Fiona Cummins 'Dark, thrilling and unputdownable with sharply drawn characters that stride off the page' Victoria Selman 'Gleefully gory and witty, with a terrific sense of place' Sunday Times
'Deeply layered, fiendishly clever and absorbing' Matt Hilton, author of the Joe Hunter series The first gritty thriller in the Avison Fluke series by M. W. Craven, the acclaimed author of The Puppet Show. Detective Inspector Avison Fluke is a man on the edge. He has committed a crime to get back to work, concealed a debilitating illness and is about to be made homeless. Just as he thinks things can't get any worse, the body of a young woman is found buried on a Cumbrian building site. Shot once in the back of the head, it is a cold, calculated execution. When the post-mortem reveals she has gone to significant expense in disguising her appearance, Fluke knows this is no ordinary murder. With the help of a psychotic ex-Para, a gangland leader and a woman more interested in maggots than people, Fluke must find out who she was and why she was murdered before he can even think about finding her killer... Praise for M. W. Craven: 'Dark, sharp and compelling' PETER JAMES 'Fantastic' MARTINA COLE 'Britain's answer to Harry Bosch' MATT HILTON 'Thrilling' MICK HERRON 'Brilliantly inventive' WILLIAM SHAW 'A powerful thriller from an explosive new talent' DAVID MARK
'This is high quality crime writing' A A Dhand The second dark and twisted thriller in the Avison Fluke series by M. W. Craven, the acclaimed author of The Puppet Show. Investigating how a severed hand ends up on the third green of a Cumbrian golf course is not how Detective Inspector Avison Fluke has planned to spend his Saturday. So when a secret protection unit from London swoops in quoting national security, he's secretly pleased. But trouble is never far away. A young woman arrives at his lakeside cabin with a cryptic message: a code known to only a handful of people and it forces Fluke back into the investigation he's only just been barred from. In a case that will change his life forever, Fluke immerses himself in a world of New Age travellers, corrupt cops and domestic extremists. Before long he's alienated his entire team, has been arrested under the Terrorism Act - and has made a pact with the Devil himself. But a voice has called out to him from beyond the grave. And Fluke is only getting started... Praise for M. W. Craven: 'Dark, sharp and compelling' PETER JAMES 'Fantastic' MARTINA COLE 'Britain's answer to Harry Bosch' MATT HILTON 'Thrilling' MICK HERRON 'Brilliantly inventive' WILLIAM SHAW 'A powerful thriller from an explosive new talent' DAVID MARK