Title: The Craftsman
Author: Sharon Bolton
Catching him will make her career – and change her forever.
On the hottest day of the year, Assistant Commissioner Florence Lovelady attends the funeral of Larry Glassbrook, the convicted murderer she arrested thirty years earlier. A master carpenter and funeral director, Larry imprisoned his victims, alive, in the caskets he made himself. Clay effigies found entombed with their bodies suggested a motive beyond the worst human depravity.
13-year- old Patsy Wood has been missing for two days, the third teenager to disappear in as many months. New to the Lancashire police force and struggling to fit in, WPC Lovelady is sent to investigate an unlikely report from school children claiming to have heard a voice calling for help. A voice from deep within a recent grave.
As she tries to lay her ghosts to rest, Florence is drawn back to the Glassbrooks’ old house, in the shadow of Pendle Hill, where she once lodged with the family. She is chilled by the discovery of another effigy – one bearing a remarkable resemblance to herself. Is the killer still at large? Is Florence once again in terrible danger? Or, this time, could the fate in store be worse than even her darkest imaginings?
I’ve only read one other novel by Sharon Bolton (Little Black Lies, which I really enjoyed – read my review here) and that was a while ago, so I wasn’t sure what to expect from this. I soon found myself completely drawn into this atmospheric, well-written mystery/crime/thriller novel.
One of the things that set this apart again other novels for me was the fact that the majority of the storyline is set in the late 1960’s, and so you see the way women police officers were treated at that time and the hurdles they had to overcome to be taken seriously in the force. It’s such an interesting topic to read about, and I also enjoyed seeing police investigation techniques from back then as opposed to those used in modern-day investigations, which crime novels tend to focus on. It seems crazy to think of a female police officer being treated in this way nowadays – and I don’t mean she was necessarily treated in the worst way ever, but just dismissed and not taken seriously purely because of her gender. Florence is such a great, strong-minded character and I loved reading about her – in fact, I wanted there to be a series so I could read more about her!
The story itself is gripping, and occasionally switches between the time of the initial investigation, and the ‘present day’ narrative (which is actually 1999). There is a touch of the mystical / magical about it, which I’m not usually a fan of in this genre, but Sharon Bolton pulls it all together so well that it didn’t hinder my enjoyment of the book at all.
There are creepy moments and things that make you think twice, and file them away for later (which I loved!). I hugely enjoyed this novel and would recommend to anyone looking for a smart, wonderfully crafted (sorry!) crime novel.
Many thanks to the publisher, Trapeze, for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.