Thursday, 24 May 2018

Audiobook Review: THE CRAFTSMAN by Sharon Bolton

Author: Sharon Bolton
Read: May 2018
Expected publication: out now

Book Description:

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?

My musings:

“What is it that you love so much about this author?, one of my friends asked me after having to listen to my half hour rant about how very much I was looking forward to Bolton’s latest offering, The Craftsman. Mmmh, where do I even start?

There is the delicious dark and claustrophobic setting with gothic undertones that is a trademark of each and every one of Bolton’s books, which thankfully also forms a large part of The Craftsman. To add some extra interest, this latest book is set in the mysterious region of Pendle Hill, Lancashire, the place of the Pendle witch trials in 17th century England. Apparently, the hill continues to be associated with witchcraft, and Bolton has incorporated this element into her story, which added extra mystery and an air of the supernatural to the story. I am always intrigued by a spooky, claustrophobic setting, and the book features quite a few of those!

Then there are the characters: in her epilogue, Bolton states that she wanted to write a story featuring women that may not fit the common mould, and PC Florence Lovelady certainly is a fine example of that. From her florid name, to her shrewd eye for patterns and detail, to her courage even in the face of adversity, this is one plucky woman that makes a worthy protagonist for this multi-faceted mystery. Bolton tells her story in two separate timelines, which means that we get to meet Florence both as a young brand-new WPC who has to fight for her place in the squad as the only female officer in the whole area, and later as a successful senior Assistant Commissioner who has earned her place and is respected by her peers. I especially loved how the young Florence never gave up but stood up for what she believed in, even when it may have been more prudent for her own career to keep her mouth shut. Over the years, Bolton has introduced us to many plucky female protagonists, but Florence may be my favourite yet (except of course Lacey Flint, who still has a special place in my heart)! Apart from Florence, there is the usual cast of three-dimensional, interesting characters, some of which had me totally under their spell and whose motives I was never totally sure about.

Not only is Bolton the Queen of gothic crime, but she also knows how to deliver a multi-faceted, well crafted plot that takes the reader on a journey with so many twists and turns you need to take some travel-sickness medication to stop your head from spinning! Despite having read every one of Bolton’s previous books and thinking I had some idea of how this author’s mind worked, I could have never foreseen the unexpected turn the plot took at the end of the book, and I am still slightly dazed with wonder. Don’t take anything for granted, is all I can say!

Personally, I especially loved the dual timeline in this one, and the realistic description of Florence’s struggles in a male-dominated career in the 1960s. Bolton totally nailed that era for me, and I thought it made for the perfect setting, from the small-town politics at the time to the ghosts of the past still casting a spell over the area’s residents, especially the female population. Witchcraft featured strongly in the book, but in a way that did not detract from the main storyline, nor did to push the story too far into the supernatural. In fact, I found the region’s history so fascinating that I would love to visit the area myself! As usual with Bolton’s books, this one is not for the faint hearted and features some pretty disturbing themes, like people being buried alive and dying horrible agonising deaths. If you are, like me, a person who finds little morbid details fascinating, such as the difference between a coffin and a casket and the amount of time one could survive trapped in one, then this book is definitely for you! Although you may want to get your chores done early and avoid having to traipse through the dark backyard to lock up your chickens after reading this (learning from my mistakes here!).


I am rambling, so I will try to sum it up briefly: if you are a fan of dark, gritty and well-constructed mysteries then I suggest you rush out and beg, borrow, buy or steal this one right now, lock yourself away in your bedroom and enjoy a massive read-a-thon (don’t think you will get anything else done until you have finished it!). As I said, Bolton never disappoints, and this one may be one of her best novels yet to date. I am overjoyed that this is apparently the first book in a trilogy – which means that there will be more – woohoo!!!!!!! I can’t wait to learn a bit more about Florence’s past, as I am sure she has a few more skeletons in the closet for us to find (pun intended)!

Image result for 5 stars

No comments:

Post a Comment