The Curator (2020) by M W Craven

What a lovely Christmas present to find – instead of the expected engagement ring in the package under the office Christmas tree, there were a pair of severed fingers, with the tag reading #BSC6. Analysis shows that the victim was alive when the first finger was removed and dead when the second was taken. And soon two other such discoveries are made across Cumbria.

No bodies have been found, but even what has been found makes no sense. Some victims were drugged, but others must have been awake? When a suspect is found, why do they deny what can be proved yet admit to what they didn’t even know happened?

Washington Poe and Tilly Bradshaw have dealt with serial killers before, but this is something different. This is the person known (by very, very few people) as The Curator. And it’s about to get very, very personal…

I’ve been sitting on this review for about a month now, as Mike Craven was kind enough to send me an advance copy, but it’s not out until June 4th 2020. I was going to save it for a few more days, but given how miserable the news is today (yes, another bit of politics – live with it, grumpy followers), I thought we needed something brighter and more cheerful. So finger-removing serial killers it is then!

Shall I deal with the negatives first? OK, Tilly, who you may recall is a genius many times over, recruits a mathematical friend who can solve fractional equations in his head. Well, I’m a mathematician, but I’ve never heard that word used as an adjective in that context. And yes, I know if you Google it, then you can find that being used, but I’ve never heard mathematicians use it between each other. And differential equations would be more impressive.

Yes, that’s the only gripe. This is another magnificent thriller in what is easily the best thriller/mystery series in a long while (well, joint with Mike’s other series). Washington Poe is a complex lead character, tough and cynical, willing to operate around the rules and sort-of a loner, but with a few very good friends, most importantly Tilly. And Tilly is a wonderful depiction of a (presumably) somewhat-autistic genius. Funny without ever being the butt of the joke, the character could have easily not worked at all, so it is credit to Mike’s writing that she is just as much the star of the show as Poe.

As for the plot, there is so much going on here. The overall plan as to what’s going on is not what you expect – I’m sure there must have been an easier way for The Curator to achieve their goals, but he is trying to outsmart Poe and Bradshaw, so I guess it needed to be complicated – but it’s never so complex that the reader doesn’t see what is going on (once it’s explained).

I’m not going to say any more about this one – just that it’s just as good as the first two. And the first two were magnificent.

The Curator is out on June 4th 2020 from Constable. Many thanks again for the review copy.

Other titles by M W Craven:

Washington Poe:

Avison Fluke:

 

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