The Cutting Season (Washington Poe #4.5), by M.W. Craven

Seven stars

A long-time fan of M.W. Craven and all that he has written, I was drawn to this novella that serves as a series teaser before the next full-length book arrives. Craven’s Washington Poe series is addictive and alluring, which makes reading anything with this cast of characters just as great. This short piece does not have the same pizzazz as the rest of the series, but does well to remind readers of the two main protagonists and how well they work together; those being Washington Poe and Tilly Bradshaw. One, a DS in the National Crime Agency; the other, a quirky, tech-savvy woman who appears able to help in the oddest ways.

DS Washington Poe enjoys his team within the National Crime Agency, particularly when they can help chase down some of England’s worst serial killers. Working alongside Poe is a civilian who has been contracted to help, one Tilly Bradshaw. Tilly is very… unique, yet her skills are some of the best in the world. Her factoid knowledge is amazing and she always seems to have different ways to squeeze answers out of people, which makes Poe’s job a lot smoother.

When they body of a man is found tied to a chair, with only superficial injuries, it baffles Poe and his team, However, the ‘pound of flesh’ is soon revealed to have been part of a piece of retribution related to another crime. An apparent suicide by train may be more than it first seems, leading Poe and Bradshaw to dig a little deeper.

In doing so, Poe puts himself out there to get answers and winds up in the hands of a criminal enterprise, trying to convince them to reveal the truth behind the murder and apparent suicide. What follows is a quirky (yet to be expected) roll out of events at the hands of M.W. Craven’s brilliant mind.

While I usually go on for a few paragraphs about a book, I wanted to be brief, as Craven was with this story. The premise is great and I enjoyed a little teaser when it comes to waiting for a full novel. The short chapters had me reading this in one evening and I do not regret it. I did feel, however, as though Craven did not put the full effort into the depth and delivery of this piece. It seemed almost rushed and superficial, as though it was penned by a middle schooler who wanted to tell a lot without giving too much detail. While I enjoyed it, for sure, I hoped for more in the same number of pages. Great writing, wonderful characters, and a lot going on… but give me the depth Craven does in full novels (not length, but grip me by the collar and chill me to the bone)!

Kudos, Mr. Craven, on reminding me why Poe and Bradshaw make such a great pair!