Body Breaker (DI Avison Fluke #2), by M.W. (Mike) Craven

Eight stars

After devouring the first two novels in M.W. Craven’s thrilling police procedural series with Washington Poe at the helm, I wanted more. Digging up an earlier penned duology under the name Mike Craven, I wanted to see if some of the earlier writing was just as exciting. Thankfully, Craven’s work has been stellar from the beginning and this piece pulled me in deeper. With a little knowledge of DI Avison Fluke and his crime fighting abilities from the series debut, I was ready to dive right in. When DI Fluke and his team are called to a golf course, they are unsure what to expect. A severed hand soon leads to a collection of body pieces in the nearby wood. Fluke accompanies the oddly dismembered body to the post-mortem, only to have the case intercepted by the London Met. Simmering yet somewhat curious, Fluke acquiesces, but is eager to get some answers, as the body belongs to an old military friend of his. While at home in his isolated cabin, Fluke and his new girlfriend are interrupted when a young woman comes knocking at the door. She admits that Fluke’s name and location was provided to her, should her boyfriend not return. Sure that he is simply away, the young Jinx is happy to bide her time. While Fluke has no idea who Jinx might be, or the man she claims is her boyfriend, he soon discovers the link and is stunned, as it is the same man whose body is now at the morgue. Hiding what he knows, Fluke begins learning a little more about Jinx and her way of life, discovering that she lives in a nearby commune as a fellow new-ager. Fluke uses some of his down time to do a reconnoiter of the area, where he discovers a potential killer. He also learns that there may have been some undercover work taking place, but for what reason Fluke has yet to be made aware. After a few dust-ups with the Met, Fluke is brought onto the case, as he has some great background knowledge of the victim. In a parallel narrative, the reader discovers more about Fluke’s military work in Northern Ireland during The Troubles and how he made some fairly formidable enemies amongst segments of the IRA. Working as covertly as possible, DI Fluke and the team hone in on their suspected killer within the commune, only to discover that there is much more to the story, with larger foes still at large. Another wonderful piece by Craven, who seems to have a wonderful ability to dazzle with whatever he pens. Recommended to the lover of police procedurals that have a twist, as well as the reader who has enjoyed Washington Poe novels and awaits the next instalment with some degree of impatience.

A lucky error brought this series to my attention. 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 followed my intuition, as both books packed a punch from the opening pages. DI Avison Fluke is quite the character, with a great deal of backstory offered throughout this piece. A man who has battled both cancer and the IRA, Fluke does not seem to stand down for anything at all. While cancer was the central backstory in the debut, the reader learns a great deal more about Fluke’s military work during The Troubles and his connection to a few of the characters who appear in this piece. There is still a great deal of mystery and secrecy in the novel, including how he juggles these secrets and still interacts with the outside world. His police work is also quite involved, allowing Fluke to show off a gritty side that is not to be missed. Tactical and ready for whatever is before him, DI Fluke leads a team into battle, even when faced with some squabbles over jurisdiction. Other characters serve to complement Fluke and enrich the reading experience, doing so masterfully in both books. They create wonderful banter in their dialogue and are just as gritty as DI Fluke, yet have personalities all their own the reader can enjoy. The story was wonderfully paced and kept me wanting to know a little more, especially with the flashbacks to Northern Ireland. Setting the story in Cumbria, Craven is able to concoct a tale that is impactful while also being somewhat more relaxed. I know there are two Washington Poe novels in the works, but wold love to see more Fluke, should time permit. Heck, even some crossover work could be fun to read!

Kudos, Mr. Craven, for dazzling the reader at every turn. I look forward to whatever else you have in mind for your fans.

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