The Botanist

MW Craven
'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 to 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 . . .

The best time of the year is when there's another Washington Poe thriller on the shelves. It's becoming a yearly ritual. He's one of those authors, along with Elly Griffiths and Peter James, that I look forward to. The Botanist is the latest instalment of the series. Poe and Tilly Bradshaw are back in a wonderful story that adds to MW Cravens reputation as one of, if not the best, crime writer in the UK at the moment.

This time, the serial killer is sending his victims flowers and a poem before they die. A right wing fanatic dies on a TV chat show, and another odious right wing politician is targetted next. Poe, Bradshaw and the mole people are called in to help try to stop the death and bring the Botanist, as the press call him, to justice. Meanwhile, Poe's friend, Estelle Doyle is accused of murdering her father. Poe understandably wants to help her prove her innocence, rather than help protect an obnoxious political. Duty calls, and Poe and Bradshaw set about catching the Botanist and helping Doyle.

I love the Washington Poe series. Have done since I read the Puppet Show. Poe is the usual faulted personality detective, but Tilly Bradshaw is a brilliant foil to him. Their interaction brings genuine light relief to sometimes harrowing stories. Poe's pig headedness, coupled with the sheer brilliance of Tilly, is a welcome relief to my sometimes jaded palate. This book is no exception. It's one of the best in the series. A taut storyline with those little chinks of humour.

I heartedly recommend the Botanist. If you're looking for real characters in the desert of samey crime fiction, then this will quench your thirst. Now a year to wait until the next instalment 🙁

Review by Brompton Sawdon
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Brompton Sawdon - Author

Brompton loves books and is always willing to give a viewpoint on books that have been exciting or disappointing.

From the top of a tower, somewhere in the Pennine Hills, Brompton views the world though world weary eyes. Occasionally ranting or raving over something that may seem irrelevant to you but matters to Brompton.

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