The Craftsman

by Sharon Bolton

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LoveReading Expert Review of The Craftsman

May 2018 Book of the Month

Deliciously and thrillingly creepy, The Craftsman is an intensely gripping, superb read. Thirty years ago Larry Glassbrook confessed and was imprisoned for a series of child murders. Florence Lovelady was at the beginning of her career when she was involved in the case, now Larry is dead, however hauntingly similar events start to surface. The first chapter has huge impact, a mystifying and unexpected blast hit me full on, and then gently faded into the background. Set in two time frames, with thirty years between them, the story is brisk, and I loved the fact that you are expected to keep up. Sharon Bolton balances the knife edge between reality and extraordinary with a beautiful subtlety. This is just so, so readable, once in, I didn’t want to stop, and found myself reading into the small hours, be warned though, reading at night doubles the chill factor. As I raced through the final few chapters, I almost didn’t want the journey to end, yet the last few words sent the most delightful icy goosebumps snaking down my arms. I highly recommend stepping inside the pages, just give yourself up to the glory of the The Craftsman... this I have no doubt, will be one of my favourite reads of the year.

Liz Robinson

The Craftsman Synopsis

Devoted father or merciless killer? His secrets are buried with him. Florence Lovelady's career was made when she convicted coffin-maker Larry Glassbrook of a series of child murders 30 years ago. Like something from our worst nightmares the victims were buried...ALIVE. Larry confessed to the crimes; it was an open and shut case. But now he's dead, and events from the past start to repeat themselves. Did she get it wrong all those years ago? Or is there something much darker at play?


About This Edition

ISBN: 9781409174110
Publication date: 3rd May 2018
Author: Sharon Bolton
Publisher: Trapeze an imprint of Orion Publishing Co
Format: Hardback
Collections: Spine-Chilling Fiction, 100+ Female Led Crime Fiction,
Primary Genre Thriller and Suspense
Other Genres:
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The Craftsman Reader Reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title.

Creepy, dark and completely addictive – You won’t want to put it down!

This utterly captivating thriller by Sharon Bolton is a must-read. Perfect for cosy winter evenings or reading in the sunshine at the beach, it will transport you to a different place and time. Policewoman Florence Lovelady attends the funeral of Larry Glassbrook, a coffin-maker she helped to convict of several child murders 30 years ago. Even though Glassbrook had confessed to the murders, events from the past seem to repeat themselves and Florence becomes embroiled in the case. I don’t want to give away too much of the plot, but suffice to say that there isn’t a dull moment and the whole book is extremely haunting. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

Alexandra Harper-Williams

This has got to be the book that I have most enjoyed this year so far – it was so gripping that I read it in a very short time as I could not put it down until the conclusion.

From the beginning this masterful book had me hooked, the characters are personable and you feel a real connection at times to them and their stories. WPC Lovelady is a character you love right from the start and you are drawn into the story with her. Great plot with lots of twists and turns that keep you guessing who is behind it all. With the inclusion of witches, black magic and voodoo thrown in to make the book a more Gothic, dark suspenseful read. Set in a Lancashire town near Pendle Hill the author sets the scene of a gripping novel that will have you unable to put it down as you journey through the book, you almost feel as if you are there living through the events. This has got to be the book that I have most enjoyed this year so far – it was so gripping that I read it in a very short time as I could not put it down until the conclusion.

Nikki McMath

A bone chilling, eerie crime thriller with a dark thread running through it. Set in a town with a history of witchcraft, three missing teenagers are found buried alive.

The story swings between two different timelines and the truth along with the reason for the book title is only revealed at the very end. Florence Lovelady (Flossie) is the only female constable on the testosterone charged team tasked with solving the terrifying mystery of who buried three teenagers alive and she suspects that there might be witchcraft involved. Then she is abducted herself, but is mysteriously let go. She names Larry Glassbrook as her abductor and he confesses to the murders. He spends the rest of his life in prison but was he really the monster he was made out to be. The conviction make Flossie's career but she never allows herself to ask the question of whether or not he was guilty. When she returns to the town for his funeral, it leads to another chain of events and the abduction of her son. It's a race against time to save him and her connection to some local witches proves invaluable. Personally, I found the ending too creepy and unnerving and really was Flossie any better than the rest of them. Overall though an absolute cracker of a read and fans of dark murder mysteries will love it.

Adrienne Kinsella

An excellent book by Sharon Bolton with a plot woven between past and present and an unexpected and very creepy ending. You must read this book.

This is the first Sharon Bolton book I have read and I have to say it is excellent. It has a double timeline, the seventies and the late nineties, and tells the story of Florence as a young policewoman, investigating the disappearance of children in Pendle, where the witches of the seventeenth century were based. The other element is about Florence returning to Pendle in the late nineties with her son, where she gets involved with the investigation from the past, which hadn’t been satisfactorily resolved.

I particularly liked the depiction of the rampant sexism that existed in the police force in the seventies and they descriptions of Florence’s treatment by her colleagues were spot on.

I also liked the way that the author intertwined the history of the Pendle area, which is famous for the Pendle witches. (Their story is told in Mist Over Pendle – another brilliant book.)

It also has an unexpected and very creepy ending.

Susan Wallace

Such an eerie book. Sublime in its telling, it keeps you gripped from the get go. Many lines will keep haunting me for a long time to come.

Sharon Bolton has such a talent and this one is up there with the best of her books. Such an eerie book. Sublime in its telling, it keeps you gripped from the get go. Many lines will keep haunting me for a long time to come.

Florence is an intriguing character and you want to keep engaged with her all the way through.

Sharon manages to give you that creepy feeling whilst making you need to keep reading on no matter how chilled you become, its not for the faint hearted but it also doesn't just give you gore or horridness for no reason. There is a detail to sharon's writing that makes sure every twist and turn is necessary.

Kate Thacker

This is Sharon Bolton at her best with storyline that feels as though you are on an out of control train and just can't get off.

This book has everything and then a little more thrown in as well!

The story is told through Florence Lovelady (flossy) and is on two timelines 1969 and 1999, Flossy was a young PC and was involved in looking for missing and murdered teenagers in 1969, what she encountered at that time never leaves her and she has returned to the area for the funeral of the man convicted of the crimes. She can't help herself looking round the town and revisiting the house where she was boarding at the time which was probably not a great decision. She once again get involved in something she should have left alone.

This is Sharon Bolton at her best with storyline that feels as though you are on an out of control train and just can't get off and why would you want to! It has a dark and creepy feel and with a little witchcraft thrown in too I was glued to it and will be looking in corners for a while.

Thank you to for the copy of the book.

Carol Peace

Set in the 60s and 90s, the story follows Florence, a policewoman in a northern town where children are disappearing. A tense, atmospheric tale around the characters and their location.

I have not come across Sharon Bolton books before but having read The Craftsman she is definitely on my list of must read authors. The story has a duel timeline, 1969 and 1999, that is handled in a masterly way that doesn’t confuse too much.

The main character, Florence Lovelady, is the first female cop on the beat in 1969 who has moved through the ranks in 30 years to become an Assistant Commissioner. Now she returns to Sabden, a town forever in the shadow of the infamous Pendle Hill, to attend Larry Glassbrook’s funeral and finally put the past to rest. She helped catch him in 1969, for burying children alive, but when she returns to the house where she lodged she discovers a voodoo doll and starts to suspect that they may have got the wrong man and that the true murderer is still at large.

The story then moves back to 1969 when Florence had to deal with ingrained sexism, resentment as an educated outsider from the south and finding that some people in the town are still involved in the area’s long history of witchcraft. Florence helps to investigate the disappearance of several children in the area with her only friend on the force, Tom, who also re-appears in 1999.

The story was full of suspense and fast paced with a good number of twists and turns, you don't have to believe in witches to enjoy this novel but some will undoubtedly find it very disturbing.

Paul Garland

As always with Ms Bolton's excellently crafted plots, I thought I had worked it out and guessed the killer - I was wrong every time!

I adore Sharon Bolton's books so I was thrilled when I was offered the chance by LoveReading and Orion to preview a copy ahead of publication. This is a book to savour and re-read. The premise is that a senior policewoman returns to the Lancashire village where she began her career to attend the funeral of a man she helped convict for a series of chilling child murders. However, she is forced to re-evaluate everything she thought she knew about the murders, and in so doing, begins to travel the twisting path to the truth. Needless to say, as always with Ms Bolton's excellently crafted plots, I thought I had worked it out and guessed the killer - I was wrong every time! I would urge anyone who loves intelligent thrillers to pick up this book and if you have not discovered Ms Bolton before, then you are in for a real treat. This serves as an excellent introduction to her work and my only regret is that now I have to wait (impatiently) for Ms Bolton's next offering. Thank you so much to LoveReading and Orion for the opportunity to read this book and thank you to Ms Bolton for continuing to enthrall this fan.

Jennifer Stoddart

A fantastic fusion of a novel - part murder-mystery, part supernatural thriller with an intelligent and tenacious heroine.

Florence Lovelady is a rookie policewoman, stationed to a sleepy Lancastrian town at the foot of Pendle Hill. When 3 local teenagers disappear, Florence is involved in the investigation. On discovery that one of the teenagers was buried alive with a corpse, Florence must race to discover the killers identity. Thirty years later, Florence returns to attend the funeral of the man they arrested for the murders. Now a highly regarded senior officer, events unfold that make Florence question whether they arrested the right man of if something far sinister was at work.

This is a brilliant fusion of a book - part crime murder-mystery, part supernatural thriller. The original case is set in the late 1960's and the descriptions of being a female officer in a male dominated profession is fascinating. The theme of an 'all boys club' is echoed in the local town and Freemasons. Set against Pendle Hill and the historic witch trials adds an eerie edge to the case.

Nicola Kingswell

The Craftsman is a gripping, thrilling, intense and utterly engrossing read which hooked me from page one and didn't let me go until the very end.

In this intense and eerie novel, we meet Florence Lovelady, now Assistant Commissioner at the Met, in 1999, but we swiftly travel back 30 years, to 1969, when she was a lowly WPC in Sebden, Lancashire, investigating the mysterious disappearance of three teenagers. The 60s section reminded me of the TV series, Life on Mars, with the caveman coppers and the token female, in their eyes there to make tea and type notes. But Florence is feisty and determined and cleverer than the lot of them put together.

I particularly liked Florence for her gutsy behaviour. Despite being frowned upon for just having an opinion she ploughed on bravely and forcefully, getting her points across using damn good detective work.

The plot is intricate with twists I could never have imagined and a dark, creepy element. Dark forces are at work. Sebden is in the shadow of Pendle Hill and so witchcraft is a major thread of the story. It certainly lent a sinister undertone to the whole story, as if the idea of a potential serial killer at large in the community wasn't enough.

The Craftsman is a gripping, thrilling and utterly engrossing read. It hooked me from page one and didn't let me go until the very last words. The ending is chilling and not what I expected at all, but so inspired.

Sharon Bolton is a superb writer, one whose books will always be highly anticipated by me.

Nicola Smith

Superb, captivating, full of twists and turns, red herrings, but, who is the killer?

It's not often that I want to re-read a book, even after a few years. However, this is one book that I intend to pick up again within the next couple of months, the story had me captivated.

It appears to be a crime book - a killer is on the loose who has targeted teenagers and soon it is realised they are buried alive.

But, who is the killer? There are red herrings along the way, you think you have the answer worked out - but have you?

The story is set in Pendle, which Sharon Bolton tells us is where she is from - a story about witches, are you are born a witch, can you become one? A good introduction in the letter at the beginning of the book.

Read it - if you are like me, you will just want to keep reading, and the ending will stay with you for a long time after you have finished reading.

Alison Bisping

When the past you thought you'd buried comes back to haunt you...

30 years after convicting him for a series of child murders, Assistant Commissioner Florence Lovelady returns to Sabden, a town forever in the shadow of the infamous Pendle Hill, to attend Larry Glassbrook’s funeral and finally put the past to rest. But returning to the scene of the crime turns out not to be so simple for Florence, and as history starts to repeat itself she finds herself forced to confront the fear that has been at the back of her mind for decades: did she get the wrong man?

I’ll be honest, I love Sharon Boltons books, so I leapt at the chance to read and review The Craftsman ahead of publication and I wasn’t disappointed. Her stories have always tended to be on the darker side of crime fiction and this one is no exception, dealing with some stomach churning events as well as a unexpected dose of black magic. When a story hands you the culprit at the start, you know there’s no way it can be that easy and I genuinely had no idea what was coming until the final, shocking end. I also spent half of my reading time in a rage at the way in which Florence, as a young female police officer in the 1960s, was treated by her colleagues and I loved that over the course of the book she gradually came to realise her power, in more ways than one. I wasn’t expecting this to be a book about witchcraft but Bolton effortlessly weaves in the magic so you are left with no doubt of its power and influence in this world she has created. This is not just a crime novel, it’s so much more.

Nikki Whitmore

In her latest novel, Sharon Bolton mixes dark magic, witchcraft, missing children and serial killers across two timelines. Skilfully weaving past and present this is a story that lingers.

This was a book I had been very much looking forward to reading, being a huge fan of Sharon Bolton's previous books. It's slightly different in that it is a stand alone story (not part of the Lacey Flint series) and divides itself between now and the 1960's. It follows a female police officer , Florence Lovelady, and how she was instrumental in catching a serial killer of young teens, it is creepy, unnerving and dark in tone.

What is captured really well is the sense of the way women were treated in the 1960's, how the claustrophobic nature of villages can be to 'outsiders', urban myths of witchcraft and the post Moors murders era.

It's jangling and the only issue I would say I have with the book was the ending but it is one of those books that you finish and feel you need to read over again in case something was missed.

Many thanks LoveReading for this copy in return for an honest review.


Sharon Bolton goes from strength to strength.

The Craftsman is an excellent read and grips from the start. The story unfolds at a cracking pace and kept me guessing until the end. I liked the element of black magic although that may not be to everyone's taste it certainly worked for me. Very well written and, for fans of the genre, a must read.

Sheila Dale

Unputdownable frighteningly unputdownable.

I’m not a fan of this genre but from the horrors of the opening chapters through the twists and turns to the shudder making end, this is a gripping well written tale. It is the story of a young woman pc in the sixties and paints a graphic picture of the prejudice and sexism that she encounters from her colleagues and the battles she has to overcome it. We first meet her 30 years on from this when she is a high ranking officer, so overcome it she did but at what cost? She has come back for the funeral of the man who was thought to be instrumental in the murder of 3 young people and takes us back to the beginning of her journey. It is set near Pendle Hill so we know there must be witchcraft involved and there is.

I highly recommend this book and am reading more by this author, with all the lights on and doors securely locked but will that help?!

Gill Williams

This is a murder/mystery full of twists and turns and surprises, and quite gripping.

This is a murder/mystery full of twists and turns and surprises, and quite gripping.  It features Florence Lovelady, a young police officer, who is transferred to a small Northern town to assist in the investigation of some missing teenagers. Florence is inexperienced and completely out of her comfort zone in every respect – socially, intellectually and culturally. However, she plays a very big part in securing the conviction of the local undertaker for murder. This story begins when she returns to the town for the funeral of the undertaker, and some strange events make her doubt the validity of his conviction all those years before. I found this a really compelling story, very well written and constructed, with well drawn characters and environment. There is an element of witchcraft in the story, which I thought added nothing to it, but it didn’t really detract, so overall I thought it was a fascinating story (even though I’m not really a fan of this genre).

Doreen McKeown

Sharon Bolton Press Reviews

'Filled with intrigue and suspense. The Craftsman is spellbinding.'  Clare Mackintosh

'Sharon Bolton's army of fans will be storming bookshops for this one.' Belinda Bauer 

'Sharon Bolton is an absolute master and I've read, and loved, her other books, but this is a whole new level. This is the work of a writer at the absolute top of her game. The Craftsman is an original, dark, and twisted tale and the words just sparkle on the page.' Niki Mackay 

'A masterclass in the craft of writing. Fabulous, utterly unique storyline, that will effortlessly stand out in the crowd of thrillers. Also, it'll give you the creeps, and I don't say that lightly.' Helen Fields

'Utterly terrifying and gripping.' Sabine Durrant, author of TAKE ME IN 

'I dare you to read it after dark. The Craftsman is a blood-chilling thriller that will cast a spell on you.' Mark Edwards, No.1 Kindle bestseller

'Grisly and compelling. I was so pleased to hear it's the start of a new series as it's top notch.' Sarah Hilary 

'Sharon is a master of her craft. The Craftsman is an absolutely terrific crime novel that takes your darkest fear and makes it reality.'  Elly Griffiths 

'The Craftsman is a brilliant blend of rich crime thriller with a hint of the gothic. Dark, disturbing and with women who totally rock, with the Craftsman Sharon Bolton has proven herself to be a master Craftsman herself. Buy it. Read it. Tell your friends. Then sleep with the light on.' Sarah Pinborough

'Darkly gothic and brilliantly original, THE CRAFTSMAN will have you spellbound.'  JP Delaney 

'I was obsessed with The Craftsman, reading it every snatched moment I could. Pitch perfect creepiness, air punching female empowerment and sinister mysteries kept me hooked to the very last page.' Holly Seddon 

'Sharon Bolton raises the bar with each new book. The Craftsman goes to some very dark places, and will have readers looking nervously over their shoulders with every page they turn.'  Mick Herron 

'Just finished The Craftsman and it is Sharon Bolton at her absolute finest. Beautifully dark and disturbing, I won't sleep well tonight.'  Jenny Blackhurst 

'The Craftsman is one of those rare books that hooked me on page one, and didn't let go until the final sentence. Engaging, compulsive reading. Sharon Bolton at her best.'  Rachel Abbott 

Other editions of this book

ISBN: 9781409174134
Publication date: 18/10/2018
Format: Paperback

ISBN: 9781409174110
Publication date: 03/05/2018
Format: Hardback

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About Sharon Bolton

Sharon Bolton (previously S. J. Bolton) is the author of six critically acclaimed novels: this is her seventh novel and features the popular DC Lacey Flint and DI Mark Joesbury. She has been shortlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger for Crime Novel of the Year, the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year and the CWA Dagger in the Library. Sharon lives near Oxford with her husband and young son. Click here to read our Q&A with Sharon Bolton about her book, The Craftsman.

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