Finally, FINALLY I am getting back on the wagon! I hope to have 1-2 recipe and reads up within the next week but these are significantly more time consuming and take quite a bit of thought process! Lil life update: yesterday was my last day as Assistant Director for a great Market Research Firm and ya’ll… I am GARBAGE at goodbyes.
ANYWAY, I now officially work remotely and I’ll share with ya’ll a picture of my new *home office* this evening! I’ll be posting twice today – gasp, I know – but the ladies over at Two Sisters Lost in a Coulee are making a new book meme! Falling Behind Wednesday will feature books we’ve fallen behind on (I mean, obvi) and this couldn’t be more perfect for me at the moment! Mostly because I’ve fallen behind on six million and one books! However, right now I wanted to give everyone a review for The Craftsman by Sharon Bolton. I finished this a bit ago but I’ve been lagging on writing the review! Anywho – off we go!
Creepy. Sinister. Haunting. These are the words that come to mind when I think about reading The Crafstman by Sharon Bolton. A true master of her craft, Bolton has woven a truly shocking, original and surprising thriller perfect for the witching season.
We’re gonna party like it’s 1999. JUST KIDDING – we’re going to dredge up old crimes as Florence Lovelady attends the funeral of prolific serial killer (who, just FYI, killed his teenage victims by – I shit you not – burying them alive). I don’t know about any of you, but for me, this is a true nightmare realized. Attending this funeral opens old wounds and we flashback to WPI Lovelady’s past and her hunt for Larry Glassbrook. In the present, Florence “Flossie” Lovelady finds a clay effigy of herself – bound and tortured. With this, we set off on a multilayered and twisted tale of an incredibly sadistic villain.
I wonder what words his headstone might carry: Loving husband, devoted father, merciless killer.
In traditional mystery/thriller fashion we’re given alternating timelines. The present taking place in 1999 and the past taking place in 1969 where Florence is the first female police officer in Sabden. Not only is Lovelady highly educated – seen as pompous and snooty – but she has to fight the inherent sexism involved in becoming the first female on the force. Unlike many other female protagonists in these types of stories Florence is not battling personal demons and hangups. She is a genuinely likable and competent MC and it among many other aspects of this read were incredibly refreshing.
In 1969 three teenage children have all gone missing without a trace. The police force, the town and all of its citizens are in a tizzy to uncover what has happened. Following a hunch, Lovelady discovers the body of Patsy (the most recent missing child) has been buried alive in a recent grave. Only after exhuming the body do they discover the clay effigy made of Patsy – depicting her torture. The exact same type of effigy Florence finds in the dilapidated previous home of the killer in 1999.
The words ‘coffin’ and ‘casket’ are used interchangeably, but the two are quite different. A coffin is a six or eight-sided box that follows the contours of the body: narrow at the head, widening at the shoulders, tapering in again towards the feet. Think Dracula rising. A casket is bigger, rectangular, usually with a large curved lid.
The crafting of this story shows Bolton’s immense skill. It’s nearly impossible to not be drawn into the web woven here almost immediately. The sinister undertones taking place throughout this story are truly magnificent. It’s an incredibly fast paced and truly surprising story from start to finish. Frivolous red-herrings this story does not have – what it deals out in spades is pure and utter suspicion for anyone you encounter along the way.
While both timelines are set in the past, this story is incredibly relevant to today’s societal climate. I’ve said it before and I’m sure I’ll say it again: I love a strong, kick-ass, female lead and The Crafstman absolutely delivers that with Florence Lovelady. Her character is multi-faceted and definitely not one-dimensional. However, as I mentioned previously her dimension doesn’t rely on the typical “unreliable, damaged female” lead and while I don’t always mind this and sometimes I quite enjoy it, it’s always nice to break from the typical.
“Except, according to gran, it wasn’t only about upsetting people… She said the witches needed body parts to make their spells work.”
Not only is this a great police procedural, but what you might not be able to tell from the synopsis is that there is a supernatural aspect to this as well. While some write off fantasy / supernatural reads because it’s not their own genre, or harder to fall into I can assure you that all lovers of mystery / thrillers would enjoy this. It isn’t over done or misplaced – I was not only surprised by the inclusion of the Pendle Witch Trials did not detract from the overlying story line it only added to it. The historical information added in created a rich and exciting atmosphere that was difficult to draw myself away from.
All in all, I was incredibly impressed not only with the writing of this story but the development of the characters, the setting and the history. If you have any interest in police procedural, historical fiction or some light supernatural vibes I couldn’t suggest this one enough! I’m not going to call this one fun because it’s incredibly dark but I enjoyed myself and was rapt the entire time I read this!
Suggested For: Fans of police procedural, traditional mystery / thriller novels and those looking for a touch of the supernatural!
Music Mood: Wolves by Down Like Silver
I’ve just finished Dark Harmony (book 3 in The Bargainer series) by Laura Thalassa that I’ll be posting a review for tomorrow so stay tuned!
What are some creepy reads you’ve read for the witching season? Have you read anything by Bolton? Drop me a note in the comments and let me know!