Cut Short (2020) by M W Craven

A collection of three short stories, featuring Sergeant Washington Poe and Tilly Bradshaw.

The Killing Field: Poe and Tilly are on leave – hardly Poe’s choice – when they are summoned to a Cumbrian airfield, know during the 2001 foot-and-mouth crisis as the killing field…

Why Don’t Sheep Shrink?: Poe and Tilly’s leave becomes something different, when Poe shows symptoms of COVID. Self-isolating at Poe’s farmhouse, their friendship is tested until they find something they can both enjoy – an old unsolved case-file that had fallen down the back of the fridge…

Dead Man’s Fingers: Time for a picnic at a local nature reserve, but Edgar, Poe’s spaniel, just had to chase a rabbit. And when Poe and Tilly chase after him, they discover a twenty-year old mystery that couldn’t be solved until now…

This is more of a “fill in a gap” article than a review. When reviewing The Cutting Season the other day, I realised that I hadn’t reviewed Cut Short, a collection of short stories featuring Poe and Bradshaw, so I thought I’d rectify that error.

The stories are proper short stories as opposed to The Cutting Season which is a novella, but these still provide a perfect snapshot of the Poe/Tilly relationship. They all follow a similar pattern – the short story structure with regular characters tends to – namely, the characters stumble across a crime and then solve it. What is refreshing here is that despite these being short stories, Mike Craven doesn’t just use basic ideas for them. One story in particular, the locked room mystery Why Don’t Sheep Shrink?, has an idea that could have formed part of a novel.

There are other Tilly and Poe stories knocking around out there – there’s one in a Tesco limited edition of The Curator paperback, another in the hardback limited edition of Dead Ground, a Hallowe’en story in the collection Afraid Of The Shadows and a few others that I’m not aware of. ….These are always worth hunting down. There’s also a collection of stories – the pithily titled Assume Nothing, Believe Nobody, Challenge Everything that predates Poe and Tilly – but if a copy of that turns up, you might have to mortgage your house to get it. Hopefully, one day, all of these will be collected into a single volume – if they are, I strongly suggest you rush out and get it! In the meantime, these three will more than make do…

4 comments

  1. Interestingly, I can’t seem to find this on the US Amazon page under this title/author. It’s a bummer – these look to be a fun read!

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