The Botanist (Washington Poe #5) by M.W. Craven #BookReview


Detective Sergeant Washington Poe can count on one hand the number of friends he has. And he’d still have his thumb left. There’s the guilelessly innocent civilian analyst, Tilly Bradshaw of course. Insanely brilliant, she’s a bit of a social hand grenade. He’s known his beleaguered boss, Detective Inspector Stephanie Flynn for years as he has his nearest neighbour, full-time shepherd/part-time dog sitter, Victoria.

And then there’s Estelle Doyle. Dark and dangerous and sexy as hell. It’s true the caustic pathologist has never walked down the sunny side of the street, but has she gone too far this time? Shot twice in the head, her father’s murder appears to be an open and shut case. Estelle has firearms discharge residue on her hands, and, in a house surrounded by fresh snow, hers are the only footprints. Since her arrest she’s only said three words: ‘Tell Washington Poe.’

Meanwhile, a poisoner called the Botanist is sending the nation’s most reviled people poems and pressed flowers. Twisted and ingenious, he seems to be able to walk through walls and, despite the advance notice given to his victims, and regardless of the security measures taken, he is able to kill with impunity.

Poe hates locked room mysteries and now he has two to solve. To unravel them he’s going to have to draw on every resource he has: Tilly Bradshaw, an organised crime boss, even an alcoholic ex-journalist. Because if he doesn’t, the bodies are going to keep piling up . . .

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Right when you think it doesn’t get any better Craven delivers one heck of a story that is even better than the last. He’s so good even that I have to admit I enjoyed reading the Acknowledgements more than usual :-). I’m not sure how he does it every time but  once again it was a read to devour.

You don’t have to take my word alone for it but look at the 236 reviews that resulted in a 4.67 out of 5 rating on Goodreads; The Botanist was a brilliant read with not one but two ‘impossible’ murder mysteries in a locked-room style. Estelle Doyle, the pathologist from earlier novels in the series, was arrested for murdering her father. Poe believes she’s innocent but if she didn’t do it then who? The evidence is overwhelming and so clear cut that it seems impossible that he was killed by anyone else. On the other hand there are people getting killed – the killer alerts them beforehand – and even with a tighter than tight security detail the murderer gets to his victims! How does he do it?

As hard as it is I can’t share anything more about their findings and the progress in the cases but Poe and Bradshaw are at their best, both in the use of their deduction skills and the socially awkward banter between the two of them. I think it was the funniest out of all the novels so far because there were quite a few awkward remarks and I was happy not be in Poe’s shoes :-). I had no idea about the motive for either of the cases but I did come up with an idea for Estelle’s case which turned out to be the right guess. I guess my Miss Marple / Hercule Poirot switch was on and some logical thinking certainly helped. Even then it was too hard to figure out the rest and I was on pins and needles to be enlightened by Poe.

It’s hard to believe I read all 5 novels in this series which just goes to show how amazing each one of these stories is. The previous one had a plotline that I was maybe a little less attracted to (a military setting) but this one was so clever and absorbing that I can’t wait to see what’s in store next for Poe and Bradshaw! My only hope is that the author can keep this up, I’m keeping my fingers crossed!

I bought an ecopy of this novel. This is my honest opinion.


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