Catching him will make her career – and change her forever.
On the hottest day of the year, Assistant Commissioner Florence Lovelady attends the funeral of Larry Glassbrook, the convicted murderer she arrested thirty years earlier. A master carpenter and funeral director, Larry imprisoned his victims, alive, in the caskets he made himself. Clay effigies found entombed with their bodies suggested a motive beyond the worst human depravity.
13-year- old Patsy Wood has been missing for two days, the third teenager to disappear in as many months. New to the Lancashire police force and struggling to fit in, WPC Lovelady is sent to investigate an unlikely report from school children claiming to have heard a voice calling for help. A voice from deep within a recent grave.
As she tries to lay her ghosts to rest, Florence is drawn back to the Glassbrooks’ old house, in the shadow of Pendle Hill, where she once lodged with the family. She is chilled by the discovery of another effigy – one bearing a remarkable resemblance to herself. Is the killer still at large? Is Florence once again in terrible danger? Or, this time, could the fate in store be worse than even her darkest imaginings?
Title: The Craftsman
Author: Sharon Bolton
Disclaimer: I was sent this book to review but my opinions are all my own and genuine.
So I haven’t read a good murder mystery in a while… maybe since Far From You, so this was a nice genre to get back into!
I’m the sort of person who tries to guess the killer within the first few minutes of a Poirot or Grantchester type show, so obviously I tried to guess the killer early on in this book too. I told my dad I knew who the killer was maybe… four times? All different killers! So clearly this method did not work on this occasion!
I liked the flip from the present to the past early on, it was really interesting to see how Florence came to the conclusion that Larry was the killer, and all the while keeping my eyes out for other suspicious characters. And there were a lot of those too, many shifty people and possible motives.
But it was also cool to read from a fairly suspicious narrator perspective because she overthinks every look and smile, and so then I also overthink every look and smile and start pointing my finger at everyone in the town.
This isn’t a book where you can guess the killer right from the start, and that’s high praise from me when it comes to mystery books.
I also loved the undertone of witchcraft blending with the history of Pendle. It didn’t stick out from the story and gave it a magical realism tone which I really liked.
I mean, there were some times where I couldn’t quite settle in to the book and fall into the story like a film inside my head, but I’m putting that down to the writing style. It was sort of like the main character was being interviewed? Or at least, that’s how it felt to me, so I felt a bit like I was hearing only half of a full conversation on occasion. A minor niggle, but one that drops a star for me.
Another reason for the dropped star was the number of names thrown at me early on. I couldn’t remember who was married to who, or who had which children, and sometimes it was just assumed you’d remember all of this via Florence mentioning one name. I started to think that my mum has the right idea when she reads murder mysteries: she writes all the character names down with a short description of who they are as she reads for reference later on. I got used to some of the major characters later on, but it meant some flipping back and forth to remind me.
On the other hand, there were some very good subtle and not-so-subtle in places examples of sexism. Even Florence being expected to make the tea for other equally as qualified police officers. I know a lot of this book was set in the sixties, but even knowing it was more normal then didn’t stop me from getting angry on behalf of Florence. It felt incredibly real, and had the frustration that goes alongside that too.
Also the general theme of being the odd one out was really well done, reminded me and I’m sure a lot of other people of that time in school when you feel like you’re never going to fit in. It made me really identify with Florence.
Oh! Another smidge of praise for the little bit of lgbt rep in a book that could have so easily hidden behind the time it was set with something like that. To me, every time it was brought up it was dealt with very nicely and any homophobia was contradicted enough for me to be happy. This book gets some extra thumbs up for that!
Overall it was a really nice comfort read. I’d definitely recommend it to other people, and it’s totally a good book to read in one sitting if you have the time.
Four happy stars here!