Book review: an author of detective novels who is getting better and better

MW Craven’s botanist.

Yes, we are invested in solving the mysteries and finding the killers. But more than anything, we want to be a fly on the wall by following the adventures and enjoying the latest interactions between these people.

MW Craven first introduced us to disgraced former soldier Detective Sergeant Washington Poe and the incomparable Tilly Bradshaw, a civilian analyst with a genius IQ and zero social skills, on The Puppet Show in 2018.

Since then, we’ve enjoyed four more of their cases together and along the way, this duo has become a double act Conan Doyle or Christie could be proud of.

The Botanist is the fifth of Poe and Bradshaw’s detective novels and it’s clear that this is a series – and a writer – that just gets better and better. There are not one but two unsolved murder cases for our beloved friends here.

One of them, baffling poisoning, is part of the day job. But the other is very personal when the brilliant pathologist Estelle Doyle, with whom they have worked on several occasions, becomes the sole suspect in her father’s murder.

Both of these cases are variations on a classic locked room mystery, and they both contain many gruesome elements. But the story is never too dark – there’s humor in the interactions between Poe and Bradshaw, and with the characters they meet along the way who have no idea what to do. making them, the ultimate odd couple.

Craven is a writer at the top of his game, confidently negotiating both of these plots to their more than satisfying conclusions. But his exceptional characterization remains the star of the show. If you like your crime novel dark but with a good dose of humor, repartee and genuine and heartwarming friendship, this series is for you.

About Cecil Cobb

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