Sharon Bolton returns with her creepiest standalone yet, following a young cop trying to trace the disappearances of a small town's teenagers.
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.
In master of suspense Sharon Bolton's latest thriller, listeners will confirm their deepest fears and meet the only protagonist who can face them.
Praise for The Craftsman:
"The Craftsman is a brilliant blend of rich crime thriller with a hint of the gothic. Dark, disturbing and with women who totally rock, with The Craftsman Sharon Bolton has proven herself to be a master Craftsman herself. Buy it. Read it. Tell your friends. Then sleep with the light on."-- Sarah Pinborough
"Darkly gothic and brilliantly original, The Craftsman will have you spellbound." -- JP Delaney
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About the Author
SHARON BOLTON is a Mary Higgins Clark Award winner and an ITW Thriller Award, CWA Gold Dagger and Barry Award nominee. She lives near London, England. Her books included the Lacey Flint novels: Now You See Me, Dead Scared, Lost, and A Dark and Twisted Tide. Sharon Bolton was previously published as S.J. Bolton.
Read an Excerpt
Tuesday, 10 August 1999
On the hottest day of the year, Larry Glassbrook has come home to his native Lancashire for the last time, and the townsfolk have turned out to say goodbye.
Not in a friendly way.
It might be just fancy on my part but the crowd outside the church seems to have grown during the brief, chill funeral service, swelling the numbers that arrived early to claim a good spot, the way people do before a big parade.
Everywhere I look, people stand among headstones, flank the perimeter wall and line the footpaths like some ghastly guard of honour. As we follow the coffin out into sunshine bright enough to cauterise wounds, they watch us, without moving or speaking.
The press are here in force, in spite of the date being kept secret for as long as possible. Uniformed police hold them back, keeping the paths and the porch clear, but the photographers have brought stepladders and huge telescopic lenses. The rounded, fluffy microphones of the news presenters look powerful enough to pick up the scampering of church mice.
I keep my eyes down, push my sunglasses a little higher on my nose, although I know I look very different now. Thirty years is a long time.
A few yards ahead of me, beads of moisture swell and burst on the necks of the pallbearers. These men leave a trail behind them, a smell of aftershave and beer-infused sweat, of suits that aren't dry-cleaned quite often enough.
Standards have slipped since Larry's day. The men who worked for Glassbrook & Greenwood Funeral Directors wore suits as black as newly mined coal. Their shoes and hair gleamed, and they shaved so close as to leave raw, rash-scarred skin behind. Larry's men carried the caskets reverently, like the works of art they were. Larry would never have permitted the cheap laminate coffin I can see in front of me.
Knowing that his own funeral fell short of the standards he'd insisted upon could have been a bitter disappointment to Larry. On the other hand, he might have laughed, loudly and cruelly, the way he did sometimes, when you least expected it, when it was most unnerving. And then he might have run his fingers through his black hair, winked suggestively and resumed dancing to the Elvis Presley tracks that seemed constantly to be playing in his workshop.
After all this time, even thinking about Elvis Presley's music sets my heart racing.
The cheap coffin and its bearers turn like a giant crawling insect and leave the path. As we head south towards the Glassbrook family plot, the heat on our faces is as intense and searching as limelight in a down-at-heel musical hall. In Lancashire, this high on the moors, hot days are scarce, but the sun today seems determined to give Larry a foretaste of the temperatures waiting for him in his next place of confinement.
I wonder what words his headstone might carry: Loving husband, devoted father, merciless killer.
As his last minutes above ground tick away, the crowd seems to press forward and hang back simultaneously, like a confused tide that can't quite remember whether it is ebbing or flowing.
Then, out of the corner of my eye, half hidden behind the rim of my sunglasses, I spot the teenagers. A boy and two girls, small, skinny, dressed in garishly coloured polyester. The eyes of the adults flick around the churchyard, resentfully at the mourners, nervously at the police, curiously at the media. The teenagers watch only the chief mourner, the woman who walks immediately behind the vicar, directly in front of me.
She's beautiful in a way that no one would have predicted when she was fifteen. Her hair has become honey-blonde, and her body has filled out. No longer does she resemble a carnival puppet, its head too big for its spindly stick body. Eyes that used to stare like those of a startled bushbaby from a TV wildlife programme are now the right size for her face. The black dress she wears has the crisp texture and clarity of colour of a brand-new purchase.
A muttered whisper suggests the watchers are following. The woman in the new black dress turns her head. I can't help but copy her and see that the three teenagers are coming too.
At the sight of them, the wound on my left hand begins to hurt. I tuck it into my right armpit, using my upper arm to bring gentle pressure against the pain. It helps, a bit, but I can feel sweat trickling down between my shoulder blades. The vicar is no more relaxed than I am. His handkerchief is out, rubbing the back of his neck and dabbing at his forehead, but he begins the burial prayers with the air of a man who knows the end is in sight. At the appointed time, the pallbearers lessen the tension on the ropes they hold and the coffin wobbles lower until we no longer see it.
That's when it hits us. I see my own thought reflected in the eyes of those around me, and a whisper of troubled energy ripples through the crowd.
'Better than you deserve, you bastard,' calls a voice from the back.
This is exactly what Larry did to his young victims. He lowered them into the ground. Only they weren't dead.
One of the teenagers, the youngest, has wandered away from his friends and is half hiding behind a headstone. He peers out at me with a sly curiosity. Stephen, the name comes to me quickly. The skinny kid in the blue shirt is Stephen.
A slick, sweating pallbearer is offering me earth and so I take a handful and approach the grave. There are no flowers on the coffin lid, nor were there any in church. I don't remember ever seeing a church without them before and I have a sudden vision of the women of the parish coming solemnly and silently into the building last night to remove them, because this is not an occasion for flowers.
Close to the church wall, barely visible behind the crowd, is the man who was the sexton in the old days. He is dressed in a black suit now. He doesn't look up, and I don't think my old friend has seen me.
I let the earth fall, conscious that, behind me, it is being offered to the other mourners, who are politely shaking their heads. Taking it was the wrong thing to do, then. The thing that has made me stand out. Again.
The prayers are complete. 'Judge not,' ad-libs the vicar, suddenly brave, 'that ye be not judged.' He bows to no one in particular and scurries off.
The pallbearers fade into the background. I step back too and the woman with honey-blonde hair is alone at the grave.
Not for long. The watchers are egging each other on to become participants. Slowly the mass creeps forward. The teenagers, too, are drawing closer, although they are harder to see than the adults in the bright sunshine.
The watchers come to a standstill. The woman in black looks at them directly, but none will meet her eyes. Then a woman of sixty-something steps forward, until her sandalled feet, toenails grimy with dust, stand on the very edge of the grave. I know this woman. Years ago, she confronted me, when misery and anger got the better of all her decent instincts. I remember her fat finger jabbing at my face, the bitterness of her breath as she leaned in and stabbed me with her threats and accusations. Her name is Duxbury; she is the mother of Larry's first victim, Susan.
Standing on the edge of Larry's grave, she sucks in breath, leans forward and spits. It is possibly the first time in her life that she has done so. The spittle is thin, dribbling. If it makes a sound as it hits the wood, I don't hear it. The next to approach the grave is more practised. A huge, bull-necked, bald-headed man, probably younger than the creases in his skin suggest. He hawks and then phlegm, solid as congealing paint, smacks onto the coffin. One by one the others follow, until the coffin beneath them must be spattered with spittle flowers.
The last of them to approach the graveside is an elderly man, thin and dark-skinned, eyes like stones. He looks round.
'Nowt personal, lass,' he says to the woman in the black dress, as I try to imagine anything more personal than spitting on a grave. 'We never blamed you.' Bow-legged, arthritic, he moves away.
For a minute, maybe more, the woman in the black dress is motionless, staring at something in the middle distance. Then, without looking back, she crosses the grass towards the path, perhaps bracing herself to run the gauntlet of reporters and photographers. They have kept their distance during the service, but they didn't come here for nothing and they won't leave without something.
I follow in her wake, but a sound grabs my attention and I stop. Behind me, at the graveside, I hear the teenagers making high-pitched, sucking noises as they try to copy the adults and spit on Larry's coffin. I suppose they have more excuse than most, but what they are doing seems feeble, and beneath them. I think I might speak to them, tell them it must surely be time to move on, but when I look back, they are nowhere to be seen. Those three kids haven't walked the earth in thirty years and yet I can't help but feel that the woman in the black dress has seen their ghosts too.CHAPTER 2
I have no means of knowing exactly what Patricia Wood suffered in the hours following her disappearance. I suppose I should consider that a blessing.
After we found her, everyone said they couldn't bear to think about it, that it was too terrible even to imagine, that one really shouldn't dwell on such things.
If only I could help myself. Imagination is a valuable tool, vital for any detective worth his or her salt. It's also the heaviest cross we bear.
And so I imagine that Patsy regained consciousness slowly, and that her first lucid thought was that she was struggling to breathe. The fabric that covered her face was satin, light in weight, but in a confined space full of stale air it must have felt stifling.
There would have been an evil taste in her mouth, partly the result of not drinking for several hours. Disorientation would have been the worst of it, though, in those first few minutes, without a clue where she was or how she got there. Any memories she could dredge up would have been half formed, a mass of random pictures and snatches of dialogue. She would have tried opening her eyes, closing them, opening them again and found no difference at all.
I think at this point she would have tried to move. To push herself to a sitting position. That's when panic would really have set in, when she realised that she was entirely boxed in.
It was worse than that, of course. Patsy was deep in the ground. Buried alive.CHAPTER 3
One or two of the older reporters stare as I leave, their eyes narrowing as they search their memories. I made the right decision not wearing uniform today. Given time, they'll place me, but I don't give them time. I push my way out through the gate and head up the hill towards my car. In any event, they are far more interested in the woman in the stylish black dress with the honey-blonde hair. She needs a police escort to get through the crowd, and I catch a glimpse of her as the waiting car pulls away. She looks at me from the passenger seat. In church, she'd given no sign of even knowing I was there. I assumed she'd forgotten me, that to her I was just another curious bystander. That glance through the darkened glass tells me she remembers me perfectly.
I chose to lodge with the Glassbrooks rather than in any of the other boarding houses on offer when I moved to Sabden because I sensed an eccentricity in the family that appealed to me. They were different, somehow, to most of the people I met in town. I thought of them as colourful, exotic birds, surrounded by a flock of small, noisy, dust-covered house sparrows. After just a couple of weeks in Lancashire, I was acutely conscious of how very different I seemed to the people around me. I was looking for birds of a feather, I suppose. Not my only mistake, in this town.
They lived on the outskirts of Sabden, in a large detached house. The narrow gravel drive is choked with weeds now, and dandelion seeds come drifting towards me like an airborne army. Moss covers the low stone wall that holds back the banked garden, and the grass between the fruit trees hasn't been cut in months, maybe years. It is a tiny meadow now. The white clusters of cow parsley reach almost to the low branches of neglected fruit trees, where plums, already rotten, are abuzz with wasps. There are hundreds of apples on the trees, but the fruit is tiny and worm-ridden. A mush at the foot of each suggests that, for years, successive crops have fallen and rotted.
I round the only bend in the drive and see the house. A stone mansion, built for a factory manager or wool merchant at the turn of the twentieth century. Paint has peeled away from the front door, and the huge bay window is dirty and cracked in places. That room was the lodgers' sitting room, where I spent my evenings when I could no longer reasonably stay at work and my room felt too lonely. The two other lodgers were men. Another police constable, called Randall (known as Randy) Butterworth, and a quiet, plump man in his forties called Ron Pickles, who worked with Larry at the funeral business. They and I talked sometimes, occasionally played cards, but mainly we stared at the grainy, dancing screen of a twelve-inch, black-and-white television. There was talk that the family, in the bigger parlour which overlooked the rear garden, had a colour TV, but this remained a rumour.
The tiny television set is still there. So are the PVC-covered armchairs that felt slick and sticky in summer, too cold for comfort in winter. Barring broken light bulbs littering the carpet, the damp stains on the walls and the dirt on the windows, the lodgers' sitting room is exactly as I remember it.
I follow the path to the rear, keeping my eyes fixed on the walls and windows of the house. The curtains are drawn on the family parlour, but I have no real memories of that room anyway. I was never invited in. The back door is open.
I step up and peer into the room they called the back kitchen. It's small, with a huge stone sink and stained wooden worktops. Wall-mounted shelves hold dustcovered crockery, dull glassware and huge copper pans. My own mother would have called this a butler's pantry, but the word 'butler' wasn't part of the lexicon of the people of Sabden back in 1969.
'Hello?' I say.
No one answers. A painful twinge shoots from my left hand towards my elbow as I step inside. A door opposite would take me into the bigger kitchen, where Sally cooked meals for her family and her lodgers. Her lotions and potions, as Larry called them, were made in this room, stored in a walk-in cupboard by the back door. She had a gas cooker, old back in 1969, to boil up herbs and roots. It's still here.
I hear a low-pitched buzzing sound behind me and turn to see that bees have found their way inside somehow. In but not out again, because over a dozen tiny black-and-orange corpses litter the windowsill. Sally kept bees. There were four hives at the bottom of the garden, and during the spring and early summer that I lived here, she'd often go out to feed or inspect them, wrapped up in her heavy white veil and thick gloves. On warm days, she'd sit and watch the predictable trajectory of the worker bees as they zoomed out of the hives heading for blossom.
She had a habit, one I found curious but charming, of making sure the bees were kept informed of any important news in the family. When Cassie, her elder daughter, won a music scholarship, she was sent straight outside to tell the bees. The news of the death of Larry's aunt was told to the bees before some of the family were informed. Calamity would fall on the house, Sally told me, if the bees were kept in the dark.
'Can I help you?' someone says, in a tone that suggests helping me is the last thing on her mind, and I turn to see a stout, grey-haired woman in her seventies standing in the doorway. I fish in my bag and find my Met warrant card. I have no authority in Lancashire, but I doubt she'll know that.
'Assistant Commissioner Florence Lovelady,' I tell her. 'I was looking for the family.'
'Haven't lived here for years,' she says, with her habitual note of triumph when giving bad news.
I know who this woman is. Sally had a 'woman that does' who came in every day to help with the cooking and cleaning. This woman served me breakfast and dinner six days a week for five months and every two weeks brought a clean set of nylon sheets to my room. She never knocked before entering, just announced, 'Sheets,' before dumping them on the bed. I was always expected to change my own bed, but I'm pretty certain she did the job for the men who lodged here. She was the kind of woman happy to wait on men but considered it beneath her to do the same for a woman, especially one younger than herself. In the late 1960s, the worst sex discrimination I had to deal with always came from other women.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The Craftsman"
Copyright © 2018 Sharon Bolton.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4.5 terrifying stars “Stalking old flames has become a whole lot easier with the dawn of the Internet” Frightening thought right? This book will surely give you just the right amount of fright and although it has that terrifying aspect for those of us who are claustrophobic, (which I do! ), the writing and the scenes depicted will send you on a chilling ride to an ever more horrifying ending. That being said, this book was a terrific read especially since the spooky season of Halloween is upon us. So, presenting: The Craftsman Teenagers have gone missing in a small town. It is the stuff of nightmares for the parents and the people who knew them. Where are these children and while the police are investigating, we are introduced to Florence Lovelady, a novice policewoman in Lancasire, in a town called Sabden. The story being told to Florence's son, reflects back thirty years prior to a case that shocked, terrified, and shook the community. That case made Florence's career. It was a scary tale, wonderfully Gothic with many shades of witches, both the white and the black kind, and the missing children who are grisly murdered being found eventually having been buried alive. Absolutely horrifying! ...and then there is The Craftsman! Ms Bolton was quite adept in this novel, in weaving this story into something positively chilling, while shifting focus among the many possible suspects. The book invokes pure evil, crafted so well that you will have to check under you bed and in you closets while reading. Yes, it is that frightening! The action keeps coming at you and the pacing is quick perceptive and keen. Particularly interesting was that the author used an area in England that was pretty well known for its witch trials, the Pendle witches, where twelve people were accused by ten people of witchcraft back in the 1600s. Ten of these people were convicted and executed. Old woman with taller younger woman. If you are looking for a fast paced book, told with a first person narrative that will have you right there next to Florence, this book might just be for you. I found myself flying through the pages and while I had my suspicions as to who the killer (s) was, this author kept me guessing up to the end. Definitely recommended as a dark, haunting tale that will make you feel a large sense of the eerie and macabre. Thank you to Sharon J. Bolton, St Martin's Press, and NetGalley for a copy of this shocking novel!
4.5 stars When I’m asked to recommend great crime/mystery books, this author is always on the list. If she wrote a book on installing linoleum, I’d read it. In this outing she branches off in a new direction, adding magic & supernatural elements to the usual mix of crime, mystery & memorable characters. Florence Lovelady is an Assistant Commisssioner at the Met. Thirty years ago she began as a lowly WPC in Sabden, a northern town in the shadow of Pendle Hill. And it was an infamous murder case there that made her career. Now she’s back. The killer she helped put away in 1969 has finally died in prison & Florence wants to see him go in the ground. Bit ironic as that’s what he did to his victims. The difference is they were alive when he buried them. As Florence attends the funeral in present day, we get a bare bones history of just what took place all those years ago. We learn she actually boarded with the killer & his family & she can’t resist returning to the now derelict house one more time before she leaves for good. Unfortunately, what she finds there will cause her to question everything she thought she knew & this time it’s her son who will pay. Not going to blab about the plot too much. As with all Ms. Bolton’s books, it’s best to go in blind for maximum effect. She’s the queen of jaw-droppers & you’ll enjoy it more if you discover things with Florence as she revisits a traumatic past. The book started a bit slow for me but after the prologue, it shifts to 1969 & we get the full story of Florence’s time in Sabden. From there on it’s a compulsive read as we gradually shift back to events in the present. So many elements contribute to the story. We get a taste of what it was like to be a female cop at that time. The isolation, ridicule & sexism Florence faced on a daily basis will spike your blood pressure. There’s a line in there that goes something like “this is how men act when facing something they fear”. In this case, it’s a smart, resourceful woman who might be a better cop & refuses to just shut up & make tea. The setting & its history provide the creepy atmosphere that helps propel the story. Witchcraft, brutal murders & a town full of clannish, suspicious people…I couldn’t help but think this place would fit snugly into something written by Stephen King. It’s obvious not all is as it seems in Sabden. There are hints of things commonly known but never spoken of & deeply guarded secrets. The effect is a constant, low level feeling of menace that keeps you slightly off balance & a tad nervy about turning the next page. Then there are the characters. My favourites included Dwane (not your average sexton) & Avril & Daphne, 2 witches with attitude who I enjoyed much like the nuns in “Dead Woman Walking”. But the star of the show is Florence. What a pleasure to read a female MC who is strong, intelligent & quick on her feet. No histrionics & not given to the dumb decisions that usually have me rolling my eyes in frustration. It’s so much more than just a whodunit. Personal asides & sub plots flesh out the story & bring the characters to life. From her letter to readers at the beginning, it’s clear this is a book the author has wanted to write for a long time & I hope she’s pleased with the end result. If her goal was to keep me up waaaay too late so I could race through the final pages, mission accomplished. Bring on book #2.
This has got to be the best book Bolton has done so far. I can't imagine being able to top it. The end was absolutely perfect. I wish there was a sequel. Stephanie Clanahan
Sharon Bolton is one of my favorite authors for a reason and books like this are exactly why! Wow, wow, wow - this book sure creeped me out at times! It was everything that I absolutely love in a thriller though. It was dark, twisted, and filled with suspense that kept me reading nonstop. Sharon Bolton is the queen at creating these eerie books where you are kept guessing the entire time. What I loved about this book was the way that it was set up. I don't think it spoils anything to say that it goes from present day to the past and then back again to the present day. And it sets up everything just beautifully by doing it this way. This book also has a hint of the paranormal to it that gives the book an even darker feel. Florence was a great main character to follow and I especially liked that we had the chance to see the struggles that she went through as a female police officer back at the beginning of her career. This case shaped her career and really her life afterwards. The entire book was just so compelling and nail bitingly good! I felt like I just flew through the pages of this book as I didn't want to stop reading. The descriptions especially at the beginning of the young girl waking up in a coffin had this claustrophobic feel to them.....it was disturbing to say the least! I was guessing throughout the entire book on what was really going on. I had my theories and while some of it turned out to be correct - it wasn't for the reasons I thought and basically was still left stunned by the ending. My one and only complaint was that I wasn't sure how I felt about the ending of the book. I had to think about it for a day or two because it was good and it did all work if that makes sense. It definitely wasn't what I expected though and yet it fits. I don't even know how to explain it but I wasn't sure on it at first and now that I've thought on it more I feel like it was the right ending for the book. I don't want to say any more than that. Overall, this book was just as good as I hoped and expected it would be! It was all of my favorite things about thrillers and mysteries wrapped into one really great book! I'm especially excited because it looks like it may be the start of a series. I'm intrigued to say the least! It didn't necessarily feel like a book that was going to be the beginning of a series when it ended but I'm so here for it! I would love to read more about Florence! This is definitely going to be one of those rare books that ends up on my best of list by the end of the year! The creepy factor alone was enough to get my heart racing! And then you add everything else up to it for one perfect read. I would recommend this book to fans of mysteries and thrillers easily. I cannot recommend this author enough honestly! If you haven't read her Lacey Flint series yet, then check those books out too! She is just SO good and this book is another perfect example of that!! Bottom Line: This book is a perfect example of why I love this author so much - a five star read for sure! Disclosure: I checked this book out from my local library.
I received a netgalley of The Craftsman by Sharon Bolton, in exchange for an honest review. This is a psychological thriller that centers around the disappearance of teenagers in a small town. One cop tries to solve the mystery while doubting all she has ever held true. A must read for thriller lovers.
Wow!!! Quite honestly, this book blew me away! Florence Lovelady has made a good career from being a cop. Her first arrest was thirty years ago with a man named Larry Glassbrook. Glassbrook was convicted of killing three young teens by burying them alive in the caskets he made in his mortuary. Three decades later, Florence arrives back in Lancashire to attend his funeral. While visiting old haunts, she realizes the man they buried may not have been the real killer and she may once again be fighting for her life. The Craftsman was a wonderfully creepy choice for a fall read. The dark mystery/suspense novel is set in alternating timelines that keep the suspense building to the very end. The unexpected twists and turns in the plot kept me guessing how the book would end. It definitely kept me on the edge of my seat! This is one of those books that completely submerge the reader in the story and the lives of the characters. Overall, this book kept me up at night and deserves every one of the five stars I’ll be sending it’s way! Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the advanced copy given in exchange for an honest review.
Thanks to NetGalley and SMP/Minotaur for providing an electronic ARC of this title in exchange for an unbiased review. Big Sharon Bolton fan here. I especially love the Lacey Flint series, but Ms. Bolton's first novels were not part of that series, and steeped in a more folkloric English tradition of spooky moors and supernatural goings-on. This title is a throwback to those. Other reviewers have made much of what sole female office Florence "Flossie" Lovelady was put through in the boys' club atmosphere of the Sabden PD, which isn't untrue, but it's a minor bit of fluff that lends some context to Florence's experiences as the lone WPC. Better to focus on how she really is far cleverer than her male peers and finds ways to get things done in spite of the constraints put upon her: she personally digs up a grave to try to rescue a teenager who's been buried alive; she is the one who creates charts to see what links the missing teenagers; she is the one who discovers the link (when she's not being asked to make tea or struggling in her awkward uniform skirt). Still, this verisimilitude is Bolton's bread and butter. She inhabits her characters quite well. She also does a good job of toggling between 1969 (when Florence is a 22 year old greenhorn beat cop) and 1999 (when she is an Assistant Commissioner at the Met). Does the book have flaws? Sure. Like most entertainments, there are times when the book's plot needs to fall just *so* in order to further the tale, and so disbelief must be suspended. The book has a slow start that required me to go back to it a few times to try to read enough so that I felt invested in the story. Once Bolton gets going, though, and the plot grabs you (for it surely will), she goes off on a tear and the book becomes un-put-downable. I finished last night after reading through the denouement very quickly, and then reading it again to make sure I understood what the eff happened. There is a twist, and then another. Things get weird(er). Things get (even more) supernatural. The ending, and its particular concepts, I think, are something that's going to stick with me for a good while. I read that Bolton switched to a new publisher for this story, and I can see that it's not a book that will appeal to everyone, but, I, for one, really enjoy when my police procedural is shot through with some cray-cray, Lovecraftian juju.
Scary, thriller that will keep you up late into the night.
THE CRAFTSMAN is a story about women and witches, coffins and caskets and a few very unlucky living who are taken during the dark phase of the moon. WPC Florence Lovelady is young, but educated, a hard worker and clever....and the only woman on the force in 1969. She works in a world where men rule and find her a threat to their ego, but she battles her way along hoping to be liked and accepted as an equal....to prove herself. As Florence narrates most of her story by revisiting her chilling past, she ends up back in the present with doubts about an old case as new ominous clues with evil connotations arise....and an old flame re-enters the picture. THE CRAFTSMAN is a page-turner and one spellbinding read with a downright satisfying witchery flair! Highly recommend this one and Sharon Bolton!
It's not that often that I rate a suspense/thriller/horror story five stars, but this one deserves it. It is so exciting and well-written that I was actually biting my nails waiting to see what would happen next! The Craftsman is a police procedural set in Northern England, an area where witchcraft has supposedly long been practiced. As the story opens, Detective Florence Lovelady returns to Sabden in Lancashire in August of 1999, to witness the burial of its most infamous former resident, a murderer she helped send to prison for the murder of three teenagers thirty years ago. The story then goes back in time to 1969 where we follow the police investigation of the disappearances of these poor children as it unfolds. Being the only woman on the police force, Flossie is disrespected even though she is often quite intuitive and good at what she does. When the author returns the story to 1999, we learn that our Flossie is facing new dangers. Is someone determined to make sure the truth does not come out? Plenty of twists and turns kept this reader on the edge of my chair to the very end! Nice touch of the supernatural. If you are looking for something perfect to read for the Halloween season, this is IT! I received an arc of this book from the publisher via NetGalley for my honest review. Sharon Bolton never disappoints--highly recommend.
I received an copy of this book from Netgalley. Thank you to the Author, the Publisher and to Netgalley. This is the first book by Sharon Bolton that I have read, and it was really good. I wish there was an option to give 4.5 stars to a book, although this book is excellent, it is not quite a 5 star book. I found this book quick paced and suspenseful. Although they tell you who the murderer is very early on, there are a number of twists and turns in the book to keep you wondering what will happen next. I would definitely recommend this book.
A new detective and the first female on the force, a town haunted by a merciless killer, children going missing only to be found in the most horrifying manner, and a mysterious darkness around the town that can only be described as not of this mortal world… The Craftsman had me convinced that Sharon Bolton somehow new my most secret fears and brought them into this story. This book is positively chilling and expertly crafted. Written primarily in flashback to 1969, the story of the small town of Lancashire, England involves the mysterious disappearances and horrifying murders of teenagers in the town. This is my first novel by Sharon Bolton and I can’t believe that I haven’t read anything by her yet. If you haven’t either, make The Craftsman your first because it is truly mind-blowing! About the Book 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?
With The Craftsman I think Sharon Bolton has jumped into Stephen King territory of horror and left him behind. Shocking and heartbreaking, this is a compelling story of a place, a people and a great many tragedies. It is also the story of a love that will last for eternity. The Craftsman is set in Lancashire with the double time-line of 1969 and 1999. Lancanshire is an unusual isolated area of England. Most visitors are drawn by the harsh beauty or the dark history of the Pendle witches who hung in the shadow of the great Pendle Hill. In 1969 WPC Florence Loveday is assigned to the Sabden police department. In 1969 children of the town of Sabden are disappearing. Disappearing children are a re-occurring theme for Bolton. What could be more terrifying and heartbreaking for a community? What else could permanently change a town. Florence is added to the investigating team. Florence may piss people off, but she is stubborn and refuses to alter her path. During the investigation Florence is lucky enough to meet the women who aid her and whose influence will continue throughout her life. Eventually undertaker Larry Glassbrook is arrested and spends the rest of his life in prison. In first section of The Craftsman Florence returns for Glassbrook’s funeral. She has visited him while he was in prison; hoping he will reveal the motivations for the crimes. After the funeral, Florence goes to visit the property where she first lodged with the Glassbrook family. While there she decides to honor an old belief that the hive bees must be told all the important news. At first the hives seem deserted but then Florence finds a clay picture- aka effigy- of herself, leading her to the horrifying belief the wrong man might have been convicted. Florence sees the clay picture as a taunting message, a challenge to finally put this case, and the murdered children to rest. The second part of the book returns to Sabden in 1969 for the investigation. In this section Bolton closely details how one of the victims suffered. This is very important to closely read, don’t skim as I did in my first reading. I really thought Bolton went overboard until I finally realized the importance of this section. The third section returns to 1999 Sabden. The case has made WPC Florence Lovelady’s career, in 1999 she is the highest ranking woman in the Met. Florence has come back, both for the funeral and to show her fifteen year old son, Ben, an important part of her life. Florence’s tenacity and her integrity come to the fore; if the wrong man has been convicted, she must do whatever is necessary to right a terrible wrong no matter the cost. But then Florence finds there is a limit to what she is willing to pay. In the first investigation Florence suffered dreadfully, in the second it looks like there is again going to be a terrible price to pay. Bolton is a master of her craft. Once again she shocks her readers; never leading them astray, but not providing a straight path either. But, I have ended up with a few questions. I found a few parts of the book to be unclear. I’m not taking a star because of the overall quality. There is a strong paranormal aspect to The Craftsman, but Bolton makes it organic to the story. This is the area where Sharon Bolton was born and grew up. Small wonder her early books earned her the title of Queen of the Rural Gothic. Bolton has gone beyond her earlier title and moved onto being the Empress of the Rural Gothic.