I love reading books that make up a series, especially ones featuring the same main characters that you get to know and love. But so many of these start off with a lot of promise and gradually fade away so that you have no interest in the characters or even the stories being told. One series that I am absolutely loving at the moment and one that shows no sign of dropping off is the Washington Poe series by M.W. Craven (or is it now known as the Washington Poe/Tilly Bradshaw series?) which is interesting and different in each instalment. Dead Ground is the fourth novel in the series and is a fantastic dark, gritty, exciting and thrilling read.
For those that haven’t read any of the series (why not?), which is made up of The Puppet Show, Black Summer, The Curator and now Dead Ground, the books are set in Cumbria and feature DS Washington Poe – a tough, dark, cynical and stubborn detective with the SCAS (Serious Crime Analysis Section), a department within the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA). Alongside him is the socially awkward and quite sheltered analyst Tilly Bradshaw, who has a genius-level IQ and knows how to use it but couldn’t tell you how to boil an egg without looking it up first. Together, along with their boss DCI Stephanie Flynn, they are an unstoppable and formidable team that solve the most unsolvable of crimes.
Dead Ground starts off with a bank robbery, not just an ordinary run in waving guns kind of robbery but a high-tech one committed in the dead of night by a collection of criminals in James Bond masks. This isn’t a new crime but sets the scene as part of a later investigation for Poe and Tilly.
The book then continues from where The Curator finished and Poe is in court in a battle with the council to save his beloved home, Herdwick Croft, which has been part of a recent boundary change to become part of the Lake District National Park. He has a very formidable defence representative in the form of his friend and partner in crime (or rather partner in law enforcement), Tilly – would you want to get into a battle with her?
The court case is abruptly ended when a new case requests the presence of Poe and Tilly, one that will not only involve the NCA but MI5 and the FBI! A high-profile political summit with world leaders is soon going to be taking place in a grand hotel in Cumbria and as you can imagine the security is very tight. So when one of the helicopter pilots tasked with bringing dignitaries to and from the venue is found brutally tortured and murdered in a pop up brothel, the security services are on high alert and Poe’s special set of skills are called in to solve the case – fast.
Overall, Dead Ground is another fantastic novel in the Poe and Tilly series. It continues in the same fast and furious pace with plenty of intrigue and suspense as the other books in the series. Whilst for me it wasn’t as good as the previous novels (that doesn’t mean it was bad, just not my favourite), it is still an extremely enjoyable, well-written intricate tale that will have the reader on the edge of their seat.
The relationship between Poe and Tilly is excellent, although Tilly isn’t as prevalent as in previous novels and DCI Stephanie Flynn is missing (due to maternity leave). With Tilly and Flynn taking lesser roles in this book I felt that it did take away something from the story, although it was still an excellent read.
The story itself is interesting, well-written and constructed well and even bringing in some lesser characters from previous books giving an air of familiarity to Poe’s job and his surroundings.
If you are a fan of Poe and Tilly you will, without a doubt, enjoy Dead Ground (I just found the previous novels more fun, exciting and tense – but then everyone will have a different favourite). A fast-paced story that is intriguing and enjoyable with a detective duo that is fun and definitely unique. One not to be missed.
RRP: £16.99 (Hardback) / £7.99 (Paperback) / £9.99 (Kindle)