DEAD GROUND By M.W.Craven (book 4 in the Washington Poe and Matilda ‘Tilly’ Bradshaw series)

Available from all good book retailers from 3rd June 2021 | Hardback | ebook | audiobook |


Detective Sergeant Washington Poe is in court, fighting eviction from his beloved and isolated Croft, when he is summoned to a backstreet brothel in Carlisle where a man has been beaten with a baseball bat. Poe is confused – he hunts serial killers and this appears to be a straightforward murder-by-pimp – but his attendance was requested personally, by the kind of of people who prefer to remain in the shadows.

As Poe and the socially awkward programmer Tilly Bradshaw delve deeper into the case, they are faced with seemingly unanswerable questions: despite being heavily vetted for a high profile job, why does nothing in the victim’s background check out? Why was a small ornament left at the Murder scene – and why did someone on the investigation team steal it? And what is the connection to a flawlessly executed bank heist three years later, a heist where nothing was taken ….


Two years ago I saw The Puppet show being talked about on a group on Facebook, it sounded good and when I looked over at my bookshelves there was a copy of the book, I didn’t remember buying it but it was there so I picked it up and finished it on one sitting, it was the first book I reviewed on my blog two years ago in June, luckily book 2 was being released and I had to have it. Each book in the series so far has just got better and better. I absolutely love both Poe and Tilly they have to be my favourite duo since I read Holmes and Watson in Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock books.

When I was granted an ecopy of this I was over the moon as it means I didn’t have to wait until June to read it, I may reread with my pre ordered copy which I can’t wait to receive and add to my collection.

So onto Dead Ground, it didn’t disappoint, there is plenty of action, suspense, tension and the normal laughter when Poe and Tilly have their conversations. I just love how Tilly always manages to give you that little chuckle. This book will certainly keep the reader engaged, we start with a bank robbery by all the James Bonds, or should I say men wearing James Bond masks on. But how does that link up with a body found in a temporary brothel, the body is that of a helicopter pilot who is flying in delegates for an important highly classified summit being held at Scarness Hall. Does this mean the security at the summit is at risk?

Poe is in the middle of a court case trying to save his home from being put back to its original state, when Poe and Tilly are invited, well not really invited more like summoned by the security services to investigate the death of the helicopter pilot, but then Poe being Poe we know he doesn’t take kindly to being told he is doing something, so it’s not long before he has the man in charge Alistor Locke come to see him, but is Locke to be trusted? Reappearing in this book is FBI Agent Melody Lee who for readers of previous books will know she was in The Curator. Although I will point out it doesn’t matter if you haven’t read earlier books as this can be read as a stand alone, but if you want to get to know Poe and Tilly better it’s a great series to start from book one The Puppet Show . Melody Lee is now fully reinstated with the FBI. We see a few other famous faces from previous books pathologist Estelle Doyle who Tilly seems to have been talking to a little more than Poe had realised.

There is a lot going on in this storyline but it all works so well, with information of events during the war in Afghanistan, from fifteen years earlier going deep into some of the military environment, adding to the mystery and tension of what is happening in the present investigation. There is never a dull moment as you whizz through the pages, wanting to know all the answers but not really wanting to finish the book, because once you’ve finished you know it’s another year before you get your next Poe and Tilly fix.

Thanks to Tilly I may no longer have any ice in my drinks if I’m out, hopefully if I’ve done the ice myself it will be safe but who knows! I love how Tilly just has no filter and if she doesn’t know something she will straight out ask no matter where she is. Which really does lead to some amusing conversations. I may have even learnt a couple of things from the conversations.

But Mr Craven has done it again, another brilliantly written, well plotted, engaging, engrossing,entertaining read, with quite a few red herrings nicely spread out, if you do manage to guess who is behind it all you will have done better than me. The end comes together neatly. Another 5⭐️ read as well as a years wait for book 5.

I would like to thank #netgalley and #LittleBrownBookGroup for an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest, fair and unbiased review.


M.W.Craven was born in Carlisle but grew up in Newcastle, returning after 31 years to take up a probation officer position in Whitehaven, eventually working his way up to chief officer grade. Sixteen years later he took the plunge, accepted redundancy and became a full-time author. He now has entirely different motivations for trying to get inside the minds of criminals.

His first novel featuring Washington Poe and Tilly Bradshaw, The Puppet Show, was published by Constable to huge acclaim, and it has since won the CWA Gold Dagger Award and been shortlisted for the Amazon Publishing Readers’ Awards: Best Crime Novel, the Goldsboro Glass Bell Award and the Dead Good Reader Awards.

M.W.Craven lives in Carlisle with his wife, Joanne. When he isn’t out with his springer spaniel, or talking nonsense in the pub, he can usually be found at punk gigs and writing festivals up and down the country.

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