The Botanist: (Washington Poe Book 5) #Review #Hard Boiled Mystery #Fiction

This is going to be the longest week of Washington Poe’s life…

Detective Sergeant Washington Poe can count on one hand the number of friends he has. And he’d still have his thumb left. There’s the guilelessly innocent civilian analyst, Tilly Bradshaw of course. Insanely brilliant, she’s a bit of a social hand grenade. He’s known his beleaguered boss, Detective Inspector Stephanie Flynn for years as he has his nearest neighbour, full-time shepherd/part-time dog sitter, Victoria.

And then there’s Estelle Doyle. Dark and dangerous and sexy as hell. It’s true the caustic pathologist has never walked down the sunny side of the street, but has she gone too far this time? Shot twice in the head, her father’s murder appears to be an open and shut case. Estelle has firearms discharge residue on her hands, and, in a house surrounded by fresh snow, hers are the only footprints. Since her arrest she’s only said three words: ‘Tell Washington Poe.’

Meanwhile, a poisoner called the Botanist is sending the nation’s most reviled people poems and pressed flowers. Twisted and ingenious, he seems to be able to walk through walls and, despite the advance notice given to his victims, and regardless of the security measures taken, he is able to kill with impunity.

Poe hates locked room mysteries and now he has two to solve. To unravel them he’s going to have to draw on every resource he has: Tilly Bradshaw, an organised crime boss, even an alcoholic ex-journalist. Because if he doesn’t, the bodies are going to keep piling up . . .

Mike Craven


M. W. Craven was born in Carlisle but grew up in Newcastle, running away to join the army at the tender age of sixteen. He spent the next ten years travelling the world having fun, leaving in 1995 to complete a degree in social work with specialisms in criminology and substance misuse. Thirty-one years after leaving Cumbria, he returned 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 . . .

The Puppet Show, the first in a two-book deal he signed with the Little, Brown imprint, Constable in 2017, was released to critical acclaim in hardback in 2018. It has been sold in numerous foreign territories and the production company Studio Lambert, creators of the award-winning Three Girls, have optioned it for TV. The sequel, Black Summer, follows in June 2019.

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

Our Review

I love reading detective mysteries, and The Botanist is one of the best I have read this year. There are two brilliant mysteries in this story.

In my opinion, a good mystery needs unusual, fascinating people who work well together. Most of the time, anyway…

The Botanist has this covered. I was introduced to the leading characters, Detective Sergeant Washington Poe and Tilly Bradshaw, a civilian analyst. Two very different people who work brilliantly together to solve crimes. I was instantly fuelled by the overwhelming desire to stay with them and watch them work.

The supporting cast member, Detective Inspector Stefanie Flynn, has her work cut out, keeping up with Poe and Tilly. Despite having joined the ranks of motherhood, I loved her colourful vocabulary and determination to win every case.

The Botanist himself deserves a mention. Clever and ruthless, he devises ways of killing that defy all natural laws and seems impossible to catch.

The Botanist is excellently plotted and well-managed, and you won’t be able to put it down. I loved meeting Washington Poe and missing him already…

I shall be looking for him in another of M.W. Craven’s books…

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