Born in a Burial Gown (DI Avison Fluke #1), by Mike (M.W.) Craven

Eight stars

After discovering the wonders of M.W. Craven’s thrilling police procedural including Washington Poe, I went in search of more. Digging up an earlier penned duology under the name Mike Craven, I wanted to see if the author’s stunning writing had evolved. In this series debut, the reader can see Craven’s earlier writing was just as gripping as some of the more recent work, with wonderfully crafted plots and interesting characters to keep the pages turning. DI Avison Fluke has just returned to work in Cumbria, battling some personal and medical demons. His first homicide case is truly a baffling one, when a woman is discovered stuffed in a bag and tossed into an open hole. With few identifying marks, Fluke and his team have the dual tasks of identifying the victim and locating a suspect. A hesitant junkie, who alerted the authorities to knowing something, has clammed up, partially out of fear and likely also as withdrawal takes over. Fluke is not yet dissuaded, as he uses every angle he can to make some headway, while pressure from on high increases. Drawing on some minute evidence found by an intern during the post-mortem, Fluke learns a little more about the victim and is soon able to identify her, though the motive for the crime remains somewhat of a mystery. When another police report by the victim, on an unrelated matter, comes to Fluke’s attention, he is able to sketch out a better idea of what happened and a list of suspects begins to take shape. Juggling all this, Fluke must also come to terms with his ongoing health limitations and some decisions he took to return to the force that might put others in jeopardy. Just as the case seems to be sailing towards an arrest, a wrench is tossed into it all, leaving Fluke to second guess everything he and the team have uncovered up to this point. A gripping first novel in the series (and perhaps the first publication by Craven?) that will keep the reader guessing and wanting to learn more. Recommended to those who like a police procedural that offers plot and character development continuously, as well as the reader who has enjoyed Washington Poe novels and awaits the next instalment with some degree of impatience.

It was a fluke, if you pardon the pun, that I came across this series. I had been wondering about Craven and noticed that a new novel in the series that got me hooked was still a few months away. I located both novels in the Avison Fluke series and thought I ought to give them a try. I am happy to have delved into this novel, as it packed a punch from the opening pages. DI Avison Fluke is quite the character, with a great deal of backstory offered throughout this piece. Former military and with a gritty way of handling situation, his police work is almost as intense as the battles he has faced in his personal life. Almost trying to be invincible, Fluke tries to compartmentalise that which impedes on his ability to do his job, somewhat unsuccessfully. However, he is determined to get answers and refuses to be blocked by anything else, which helps propel both his character and the larger story throughout. Other characters serve to complement Fluke and enrich the reading experience. I have a few on my radar that I hope return in the second book, as they create wonderful banter in their dialogue and are just as gritty as DI Fluke. The story was wonderfully paced and kept me wanting to know a little more. Set outside the ‘big city UK’, Craven is able to concoct a tale that is impactful while also being somewhat more relaxed, using Cumbria as the setting. I am eager to see what Craven has in store for Fluke and the others, as this debut piece was gripping until the final pieces all fell into place.

Kudos, Mr. Craven, for dazzling the reader at every turn. I knew I had not made a mistake in becoming a fan and this piece proves to me that you are not a flash in the pan.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: