Saturday, January 16, 2010

THE ARSENIC LABYRINTH: MARTIN EDWARDS: ENGLAND



Guy Koenig, a drifter, who lives on his wits and his ability to con money out of vulnerable women has returned to Coniston in the Lake District. He takes lodgings with Sarah, a sad middle aged woman with a run down guest house, and a secret of her own.
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.


This was the second book I read for the European section of Dorte's Global Challenge 2010.

6 Comments:

Blogger Margot Kinberg said...

Norman - You made a fine, fine choice!!! Isn't Martin a terrific writer :)? Thanks for your thoughtful and detailed review.

3:18 PM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

He is a terrific writer, and also a nice guy from my online contact, and a very brief exchange at Crime Fest.

4:09 PM  
Blogger Dorte H said...

A fine book and a fine and fair review! I read many different crime genres, but I always return to the good old whodunit before or later.

I donĀ“t usually buy hardbacks, but fortunately I have an unread Harry Devlin on my shelf.

7:44 AM  
Blogger Jose Ignacio Escribano said...

Norman, great choice and great review. I look forward to read the Lake District series.

12:07 AM  
Anonymous Maggie LLoyd said...

Wow I really liked this review, have not heard of this writer before. One to put on my reading list!

8:43 AM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

Thanks everyone for your comments on the book and my review. Perhaps I should write all my reviews when totally stressed out by family problems!

11:35 AM  

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