THE CRAFTSMAN is set in the area in which Sharon Bolton grew up, in Lancashire around Pendle Hill, an area known over the centuries to be home to many witches. The story is set in 1969 and in 1999.
Assistant Commissioner Florence (Flossie) Lovelady has returned to the town of Sabden for the funeral of Larry Glassbrook He was a master carpenter and funeral director who Flossie helped to convict for murder 30 years ago.
In 1969 Flossie arrived in Sabden to work for the police. She was a misfit, being from the south, being the first female police officer and holding a university degree. Teenagers started to go missing shortly after her arrival and now with Patsy, the 3rd teenager to disappear, Flossie has started to share her unwelcome opinions on the investigation. She is sent to investigate a report by children who heard voices from a grave. The discovery of Patsy’s body and the knowledge of what the girl went through send shock waves through the police force and the town. It is Flossie who works out the location of the other 2 teens and finds a link between the 3 thereby narrowing the list of suspects. But as she starts to get closer to the truth, she is suspended from her job, then she herself is abducted. As a result of the investigation, Larry is convicted of abducting and murdering the 3 teens.
Flossie returns to Sabden in 1999 with her 15 year old son. She can’t resist having a look at the Glassbrook house where she finds a clay effigy similar to those that were buried with the 3 teens. This one bears a striking resemblance to Flossie. Could Larry have been innocent and if so why would he confess to the murders. Is the killer still at large and Flossie still in danger.
This was a brilliant novel which I had difficulty putting down. Normally I’m not much of a fan of the occult, but Bolton brought witchcraft into the story in a way the piqued my interest.
I enjoyed the character of Flossie as well as some of the supporting characters, particularly Tom, Daphne, Avril and Dwane. There were also plenty of characters that I strongly disliked.
I love Sharon Bolton’s writing and I can’t wait to read more.