It is ten years since Emma Bestwick has walked out of her cottage and never been seen again, and local journalist Tony Di Venuto writes an article on the anniversary of her disappearance. Guy reads the article and for his own reasons decides to anonymously inform Di Venuto that firstly Emma will not return, and then later where her body can be found.
DCI Hannah Scarlett, head of the Cold Case Review Team, is instructed by her public relations conscious superior ACC Lauren Self to re-open the investigation.
While Hannah begins to question those connected with Emma's past, her friend historian Daniel Kind, son of her old boss Ben, is researching details of John Ruskin's time in the Lakes. Daniel's relationship with his glamourous blonde partner Miranda has become strained, because she feels isolated in the Lake District which she now considers a backwater.
How did Emma come into money before she disappeared? Why did Guy meet Emma near the Arsenic Labyrinth, and is this old mine involved in an older mystery? Why is Emma estranged from her sister Karen Erskine?
This is the third book in the Lake District series by Martin Edwards, that features DCI Hannah Scarlett, and historian Daniel Kind.
It is a classic whodunit, within a modern rural setting, and is just the sort of book that first drew me into crime fiction
The plot is complex, and early on I drew a simple little diagram to show the relationships between the characters, some of which proved merely skillful red herrings. The excellent plot involves slowly uncovering the personal histories of numerous suspects, and their relevance to past and present crimes.
This is top quality crime writing which beautifully evokes the atmosphere of the Lakes, and importantly the sharply defined characters have the type of credible interrelationships that develop in small communities.
The chemistry between Hannah and Daniel adds yet another level of tension to the story, and hopefully this will be further explored in the next book in the series The Serpent Pool due out soon.
This was such a gripping and fascinating read that, until I reached the end, I did not realise it was over 400 pages in length.
I will definitely be on the look out for more books by Martin Edwards.