Book Title and Author: The Craftsman by Sharon Bolton
Publication Date and Publisher: October 16, 2018 by Minotaur Books
Genre: Crime Fiction, Thriller, Mystery
Pages: 432 pages
Buy on Amazon.com
Date Read: October 12, 2018 (e-arc)
Florence Lovelady’s career was made when she convicted coffin-maker Larry Grassbrook of a series of child murders 30 years ago in a small village in Lancashire. Like something out of a nightmare, the victims were buried alive. Florence was able to solve the mystery and get a confession out of Larry before more children were murdered., and he spent the rest of his life in prison.
But now, decades later, he’s dead, and events from the past start to repeat themselves. Is someone copying the original murders? Or did she get it wrong all those years ago? When her own son goes missing under similar circumstances, the case not only gets reopened… it gets personal.
Wow, did I pick the perfect Sharon Bolton book as my first ever read by her! What a sensational book! First of all, I don’t know what took me so long to read one of Bolton’s books even though my bookish friends kept telling me that I’d LOVE her writing (I really have to listen to you all more often!). Secondly, I just can’t tell you how much I loved this book, and I want everyone to love it as much as I do! The Craftsman is by far one of the creepiest, darkest, and most bewitching books that I’ve ever read, and it’s going straight on my list of top ten books of 2018!
I love thrillers that are deeply dark, dangerous, and take you places in your mind you might otherwise not want to go. I’m more than a bit morbid and bloodthirsty with my thrillers, and Bolton gives you that with The Craftsman, where the atmospheric vibe is at times tense, disturbing, and extremely terrifying. Yet what can you expect in a book that has a psychopathic, monstrous serial killer on the loose not only kidnapping children but burying them alive too–whoa! Then throw in some witchcraft, both white and dark spells, a little voodoo, masterful writing, an out of this world plot, a strong, intelligent female character like Florence, and I’m sold! And you should be too because this is an amazing book. In fact, I probably don’t have the words to express how stunning and marvelous this book is!
The novel begins in 1999 when Florence and her fifteen year old son attend the funeral of Larry Grassbrook, the man she helped catch as the murderer of three teens 30 years ago. The town has never been the same since the murders and Larry’s arrest but after his funeral, Florence finds something that makes her suspect something might be off about the original investigation. She then begins looking into the old case while wondering if the right man was convicted of those crimes 30 years ago even if he did confess. Could the killer still be at large after all these years? If so, has she put herself and her family in danger by coming back to Sabden?
The story alternates between 1969 and 1999 with the majority of the story taking place in 1969 when Florence is new to the town of Sabden as a young policewoman. During that time, she faces dislike and mistreatment from her male colleagues who think she’s overstepped her place by being a woman in a man’s world and they aren’t afraid to ridicule her or show her what they think of her university degree, high intellect, and posh accent. Yet, Florence is tough as nails if naive at times and doesn’t let them stop her from following her superb instincts, investigating on her own, or solving the case. Florence is a dynamic character, and I loved her! She’s strong, determined, bold, and brave and I loved how she didn’t let the misogynistic men she worked with dictate her actions!
Oh, but the book really starts not in the first chapter but with a letter written by the author to the reader! Oh, yes, I loved this letter and it completely captivated me before I even read a single page of the story! It’s addressed to the “Dear Reader” and you simply must read it because it’s just entrancing! Bolton recounts the legend of the Pendle Witches, her ancestors. The legends goes that the females of Pendle are baptized twice-once in church and again in the dark pool where they are reborn as witches, and Bolton writes that this is a story “of women and witches. Of the children we love and must protect. And of the men who fear us.” Oh my! That just beguiled me right there!
I so loved the witch aspect of the novel and although you might shy away from the supernatural element, please don’t. It is written in the book in such a way that it feels very real and not fantastical or absurd. It adds to the story instead of taking away from it and only plays a large part in the third part of the novel. And I also loved this aspect since the Pendle witches were real (I love Google!), so it added a fab historical element to the novel that is relevant to the setting of the story.
That ending though! What a last line for a book!! I was left shocked and absolutely stunned. Bolton has definitely captured me under her spell with The Craftsman, and I’m positive that she will you too! Highly, highly recommend that you read this one!! It comes out October 16, 2018, just in time for the perfect creepy, terrifying read right before Halloween! I really want you to read this one…can you tell how much I loved this book??
~I read this with my Traveling Sisters, and we all LOVED it! Check out what they thought in their review here!!~
**Thank you NetGalley and Minotaur Books for an ARC to read in exchange for my fair and honest review.**