Two murder mysteries to keep you in suspense reviewed by Janet Gordon

You can’t beat a good “serial killer” murder mystery.  And by a serial killer, I include all genres of detective type stories from Agatha Christie and her wonderfully moustached  Hercule Poiret, through to Chris Carter, who caters for the goriest of readers with Robert Hunter and his sidekick Garcia.  Then there’s the wonderful Clare Mackintosh, who writes terrific twisty chillers and Cara Hunter and her fabulous detective Adam Fawley  – The Whole Truth is the latest and fifth in the series.

DEAD GROUND | M W Craven

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But one of my all-time favourite “tec writers is M W Craven. Mike Craven is very approachable and happy to talk to book club members through Facebook. DEAD GROUND (Constable June 2021) is the fourth and latest in the Washington Poe series.

I love Washington Poe, who lives in an isolated (think not even a road) converted sheep shed/barn in the middle of the moors.  Tilly or Matilda Bradshaw, if we’re excessively formal, has, I think, OCD or autistic tendencies.  But the communication between Poe and Tilly is wonderful.  He’s adapted to all her foibles – and there are many – and realised that her formidable intelligence is well on the way to being the key to unravelling all the mysteries he finds himself investigating. 

Poe is called up to Carlisle. He is supposed to be investigating what should have been a straightforward case of a man found beaten to death in a side street.  But why Poe? Poe doesn’t do straightforward anything.   Couple this with the fact that it turns out he’s about to appear in court to fight an eviction order challenging him to return his sheep shed back to nature, and Poe and Tilly are facing their most complex case yet.

Poe harnesses Tilly’s incredible computer programming skills and knowledge of the dark web, whilst his mind twists and turns, as does the plot.  It’s incredibly complex but easy to follow. Craven takes us into the labyrinth workings of the Government with wit, humour and tenacity.  The humour in his writing is wonderful, as is the depth of feeling between Poe and Tilly.  I adore this duo, and if you haven’t yet discovered M J Craven’s novels, you don’t know what you’re missing.

MY BEST FRIEND’S MURDER | POLLY PHILLIPS

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And now  My Best Friend’s Murder by first time author Polly Phillips (Simon & Schuster £8.99)

Have you ever had a best friend that you’ve been friends with almost forever? But somehow, there’s always something a little off in the friendship that you can’t quite put your finger on? Well, for Bec and Izzy, who have been together since the death of Bec’s mum and the birth of Izzy’s daughter, Tilly (another Tilly – is it the name of the season, I wonder ?) it’s the closest of friendships. But now that Bec is living with Ed, the friendship seems to have taken on a new dimension.

But – Izzy is discovered dead at the bottom of her glossy wooden stairs in her immaculate and expensive trendy type house where she lived with her husband, Rob. And Bec – could she be the killer?

It’s a dark and addictive tale of a toxic friendship told through a series of flashback chapters.  I loved it and look forward to reading more from this new author.

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