Devoted father or merciless killer? His secrets are buried with him.
Florence Lovelady’s career was made when she convicted coffin-maker Larry Glassbrook of a series of child murders 30 years ago. Like something from our worst nightmares the victims were buried…ALIVE. Larry confessed to the crimes; it was an open and shut case. But now he’s dead, and events from the past start to repeat themselves. Did she get it wrong all those years ago? Or is there something much darker at play?
The Craftsman is a genuinely disturbing and compelling mystery and an excellent addition to one of my favourite authors‘ catalogue.
Think: a cross between Prime Suspect and The Wicker Man plus Life on Mars, for the fascinating but unnerving mystery, small-town suspicion and superstition, breath-taking and ingrained institutional sexism, with a couple of flashes of humour to lighten the darkness.
The book has an interesting structure: bar the opening scenes, three-quarters of the book is set in the past, during the original 1969 investigation but with the benefit of future knowledge that the police don’t have, before finishing up in the ‘present day’ of 1999. Now, often knowing more than the characters do, or knowing ‘whodunit’, leaves me cold and less interested, but Sharon Bolton still manages to make all of this totally absorbing despite knowing what’s got to happen.
Her descriptions are brilliantly vivid and I had a crystal clear vision of Sabden, the house, the Hill and every single one of the characters. I loved Florence – and would be intrigued to see more from her, so fingers crossed – and Daphne was brill!
In case you’re doubtful about the witchcraft elements, don’t be: while witchcraft adds an extra angle, there is nothing shown here that could not also have been achieved with good, solid police work. Or is there?!
All in all a substantial, thrilling and gripping book, and I am still trying to process that last line…!
Huge thanks to NetGalley, Orion and Trapeze for the ARC of The Craftsman.