Posted in Book Review

The Craftsman – Sharon Bolton – 5* Review

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?

Catching him will make her career – and change her forever. 

August 1999 
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.

June 1969 
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.

August 1999 
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?

Amazon UK


My Thoughts…

An ordinary setting is in stark contrast to the horrific events that take place in a 20th-century Lancashire town, which has a bloody history that many can’t let go. Maybe Florence Lovelady had no choice but to return to the place that changed her and nearly cost her life over thirty years ago?

There are a lot of facts to assimilate in the early chapters. What seems abstract becomes more evident as you travel back over thirty years to the late 1960’s when Florence Loveday was the town’s first WPC.

The story’s ethos is dark and menacing even before the possibility of supernatural influence. The larger than life characters are believable and compelling. Florence is an outsider, a curiosity and a threat to the town’s establishment. She suffers prejudice in her personal and work life. Her isolation increases the suspense as she struggles to solve the missing teenager’s disappearances.

The author creates vivid images of murder with a twist. You are left wondering whether the deaths are the work of a deranged murderer or something less definable but no less menacing. The fast pacing complements the detail, and every line builds towards a hold your breath moment.

The well-constructed plot has many twists incorporating historical fact and myths. While needing your concentration, the storyline holds its secrets well. The clues are there if you want to play detective, but you are unlikely to be prepared for the final twists which leave you with a chill down your spine and menace imprinted on your psyche.

I received a copy of this book from Orion Publishing Group – Trapeze via NetGalley in return for an honest review.