Posted in Book Review, Books I have read, Mount TBR 2017

The Cipher Garden – Martin Edwards

Crime Fiction 4*s
Crime Fiction
4*s

We are back in the Lake District with its unpredictable weather and beautiful scenery with the appealing Daniel Kind, historian who finds parallels between his specialism and the work of a detective, particularly when the crimes reach back in time.

I really enjoyed the first of Martin Edwards’ The Lake District Mysteries, The Coffin Trail and fortunately I had already purchased the second in the series. The key mystery in this book is the death many years ago of Warren Howe, a gardener, not greatly liked (in my opinion the best kind of victim as no energy is wasted mourning his loss) who was cut down in a customer’s garden with his own scythe. The case has come to the attention of Hannah Scarlett’s cold case team courtesy of an anonymous letter pointing the finger firmly towards his widow, Tina. But Daniel Kind is also seeking to find out whether there is a cipher in his garden and if so what does it reveal? This involves digging around in a different section of the past that the locals would equally like to be forgotten, but why?

Hannah Scarlett who is still not overjoyed to be heading up the ‘Cold Cases’ team, she would prefer to have been in the thick of the ongoing investigations, calls up the old files and is somewhat heartened to see the original investigation was led by one of life’s lazier policemen. It soon becomes very clear that there were a few likely suspects but in the absence of any real ‘hard-graft’ whoever it was has escaped justice for many years!
There is a proper mystery at the core of this book involving the brutal murder of Warren Howe and then there is the everyday lives of those investigating it but this is perfectly balanced with the lives of Martin Edwards’ chief protagonists Hannah Scarlett and Daniel Kind. In other words there is plenty to keep the reader entertained when the inevitable dead ends are reached.

I am really enjoying my crime fiction reads which have more of a classical feel to them, this isn’t a thriller, so the pace while never slow, is not so fast that everything passes in a blur until the inevitable confrontation. No this is a book that relies on a good plot and interesting characters to keep its reader’s interested. The characters are all exceptionally well-drawn from the teenage daughter of the dead man to the new husband of his widow, they all feel read by having a mixture of characteristics rather than cardboard cut outs waiting for their part in the plot. That said, there are a fair few of these characters to get to grips with and placing them, particularly if you haven’t read the first book, may cause a little consternation but not for long!

There is something I find very appealing about the small town setting and getting to know the inhabitants and the way they tick is at the root of the enjoyment, especially as they have all known each other for years and know where ‘the bodies are buried.’ This adds to the intrigue as Daniel Kind and Hannah Scarlett use very different techniques to get them to reveal the facts and although I had a fairly good idea before the reveal, I’m pleased to report that there was one secret I simply didn’t anticipate.

The Cipher Garden is the third of my Mount TBR reads (books I own and were purchased before 31 December 2016), so I’m bang on target so far but since there are another five books to read in this series, I’m not entirely sure that this is actually helping reduce the TBR, You can be sure I’ll have bought at least one more before the year is out!

mount-tbr-2017

 

First Published UK: 2005
Publisher: Allison & Busby
No of Pages:  352
Genre: Crime Fiction Series – Police Procedural
Amazon UK
Amazon US

The Lake District Mystery Series

The Coffin Trail (2004)
The Cipher Garden (2005)
The Arsenic Labyrinth (2007)
The Serpent Pool (2010)
The Hanging Wood (2011)
The Frozen Shroud (2013)
The Dungeon House (2015)

Author:

A book lover who clearly has issues as obsessed with crime despite leading a respectable life

19 thoughts on “The Cipher Garden – Martin Edwards

    1. I have the same problem – I think these may both have been on special offer back in 2015 as I bought mine at the same time – need to get The Arsenic Labyrinth (which sounds as though there may be some poison) soon!

  1. I also read the first book in this series several years ago and have meant to continue. Will try to do so this year. I love the setting and I also like the way Edwards tells a story.

  2. Isn’t this a great series, Cleo? I think it’s very well-written, and Edwards does have a great feel for characters, place and context. What I like, too, is the evolution of both Daniel Kind and Hannah Scarlett as the series goes on.

    1. Daniel and Hannah have an intriguing relationship which doesn’t take over but is bubbling beneath the surface – I want to know what happens there as well as enjoying the great mysteries – I need The Arsenic Labyrinth now!

  3. Like you I enjoy the more classical crime fiction. Looks like I’ve been missing out here. Thank you for the great review.

  4. “a gardener, not greatly liked (in my opinion the best kind of victim as no energy is wasted mourning his loss)” This is so true I felt bad about laughing so loud when I read it! I like that the plot is strong enough not to need a fast pace and can stand on its own.

  5. I’m enjoying more classic and classic-style crime too, and I so agree about the victim – I always prefer it when I don’t have to care about them! I read and enjoyed The Dungeon House but still haven’t got around to backtracking on this series – someday soon though…

    1. I’m sure this challenge is going to end up adding even more books to the TBR as I definitely need to read the next one, The Arsenic Labyrinth (surely a poisoner in there somewhere?)
      My favourite kind of victim, no emotions spared in that direction although reading back my comment it was a little on the harsh side 🙂

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