Body Breaker (2017/2020) by M W Craven

It all started simply enough – a dismembered hand falling from the sky onto the third green of a golf course in Cumbria. When the rest of the pieces (plural) of the body are found elsewhere on the course, DI Avison Fluke and his team lead the investigation, until they are promptly removed by a top level investigation team.

Soon, Fluke’s peace and quiet is disturbed by a young woman who arrives at his isolated cabin, asking him to investigate her missing husband. It rapidly becomes clear that a) her husband is the body on the course and b) Fluke knew him – but not by the name that the woman knows him by. And then things start to escalate…

M W Craven won the CWA Gold Dagger this year for the outstanding The Puppet Show, the first Washington Poe mystery/thriller, and the follow-up, Black Summer, was even better, in my opinion. This led, while we wait for Poe Book 3, The Curator, to the reissue (with a bit of a re-write) of his first two novels, Born In A Burial Gown and Body Breaker. I’ve been a bit naughty, as Mike sent me copies of the books a while ago but I’ve been putting off Body Breaker, simply because I knew that when I read it, I’d have to wait for a good while for his next book.

Well, I’ve read it now and I’ve a very simple message for Mr Craven:


If you like thrillers, you will love this book – it’s an intelligent, well-paced tale that makes a point of preparing you for everything that happens, without making you realise until the revelations occur what has been happening. And a lot happens – a lot – with a ridiculous amount of twists and surprises in a plot that never feels rushed or forced.

It seems almost odd to find yourself caring about Fluke or his primary sidekick, Towler, as they are both, on the surface, a pair of a**eholes, but it’s a tribute to Craven’s writing that there is an almost instant depth to these characters – a good job as we spend almost all of the book in their company – and the supporting characters, whether police, suspects or out-and-out villains, shine as well. With such a well-constructed cast of regulars, I feel like re-iterating my message from earlier.



I’m not going to spoil anything else of the plot – let me just say that it is one of the most satisfying thrillers that I’ve read since… well, one of the most satisfying thrillers that I’ve read. Ever. And while this is, like the first book, a standalone novel, I so need to know what happens next… But in the meantime, I’ll be waiting until June 4th for The Curator to come around…

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