Posted in Book Review, Books I have read, Mount TBR 2018

The Arsenic Labyrinth – Martin Edwards

Crime Fiction
4*s

This is the third of the Lake District Mysteries and for once I am working my way through in strict order, something I’m glad I chose to do as the back story of how historian Daniel Kind left his teaching post at Oxford and his television career to live in a cottage there, while not key to the individual mysteries themselves, does of course work better when you the story arc plays out in the correct order.

I have to mention how thrilled I was to open the book to two family trees one for the Clough family and one for the Ichmore family. I love touches like this in books and although the significance of these families isn’t apparent for a while, once it was you can be sure I turned back to the beginning to acquaint myself with the details. After that we have an excerpt from a journal – something neither the police or Daniel have seen. Don’t you just love that feeling that we know something the investigators don’t?

Chillingly the journal starts with the words:

You’d never know it to look at me now, but once upon a time I killed a man.

So on to the mystery which starts with DCI Hannah Scarlett opening an old case file because local journalist Tony di Venuto, chooses the tenth anniversary to campaign for an investigation into the disappearance of Emma Beswick. For publicity reasons it seems like a good time to re-evaluate what Cumbria’s Cold Case Review Team know, and where they should look to see if any new information comes to light. This is a case that DI Hannah Scarlett knows well, she was part of the original investigation team working for Daniel’s father.

Along the way she visits the Museum of Myth and Legend run by local man Alban Clough and managed by his daughter Alexandra because Emma used to work there, and she had a relationship with Alexandra. What she learns isn’t so much about Emma though, but about the local folklore and the arsenic labyrinth, set in a remote spot of the lakes.

Part of what I love about this series is the well-researched information that that the author carefully weaves into the storyline. Nothing as clumsy as an information drop for this accomplished author, rather key information in direct relation to the mystery which is fascinating.

With the professional detective and an amateur side-kick both involved in the investigation, although not in any formal way, the reader is offered an insight into the different ways key bits of information can be found, and used to unravel the different questions that need answers. For light relief we watch a con-artist weave his artful magic on an unsuspecting, desperate and gullible B&B Landlady to get a more comfortable bed for a few nights.

For a book that I would classify as at the more comfortable end of crime fiction it is jam-packed with literary references, historical information, an ancient feud and of course a solid mystery. Because there are so many strands to these books it can seem as though it takes longer to get to the heart of the puzzle than you expect but it really is well worth the wait.

This series really is a satisfying read, a beautiful location bought to life against the backdrop of the flip-side which investigates the darker side of human nature. It certainly won’t be long before I read the next in the series, The Serpent Pool.

This is the 16th book I’ve read and reviewed as part of my Mount TBR Challenge for 2018. I am aiming to read 36 books across the year from those purchased before 1 January 2018. The Arsenic Labyrinth was purchased on 6 November 2017 thereby qualifying.

First Published UK: 2007
Publisher: Allison & Busby
No of Pages: 305
Genre: Crime Fiction – Series
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)

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (May 16)

This Week In Books
Hosted by Lipsy Lost & Found my Wednesday post gives you a taste of what I am reading this week. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words

My current read is The Lodger by Marie Belloc Lowndes which is one of the books I have chosen for The Classics Club challenge.

Blurb

The Buntings are an elderly London couple who have fallen on hard times. They take in a lodger with the strange name of Mr. Sleuth, who pays handsomely for their shabby rooms. He seems to be a perfect gentleman but none the less they begin to suspect that he may be the Jack-the-Ripper-like serial killer known in the press as ‘The Avenger’.

As the number of murders in the city begins to mount, and Mr. Bunting’s teenage daughter from an earlier marriage comes to stay, the couple must decide what to do about the man in their upstairs rooms. An early example of a psychological suspense story and a brilliant evocation of the fog-bound and gaslit streets of late Victorian London, The Lodger is still a wonderfully compelling thriller. Amazon

The last book I have read is one of my highly anticipated books of the year – Dead If you Don’t, the fourteenth book in the Roy Grace series written by Peter James.

Blurb

Kipp Brown, successful businessman and compulsive gambler, is having the worst run of luck of his life. He’s beginning to lose, big style. However, taking his teenage son, Mungo, to their club’s Saturday afternoon football match should have given him a welcome respite, if only for a few hours. But it’s at the stadium where his nightmare begins.

Within minutes of arriving at the game, Kipp bumps into a client. He takes his eye off Mungo for a few moments, and in that time, the boy disappears. Then he gets the terrifying message that someone has his child, and to get him back alive, Kipp will have to pay.

Defying instruction not to contact the police, Kipp reluctantly does just that, and Detective Superintendent Roy Grace is brought in to investigate. At first it seems a straightforward case of kidnap. But rapidly Grace finds himself entering a dark, criminal underbelly of the city, where the rules are different and nothing is what it seems . . . Amazon

Up next I plan to read one from my own bookshelf, The Arsenic Labyrinth my Martin Edwards which is the third in the Lake District Murders.

Blurb

‘You’d never believe it to look at me now, but once upon a time I killed a man’

Historian Daniel Kind is finding winter in the Lake District tough, especially as his relationship with Miranda seems to be on the rocks. Far from the bright lights of London, Miranda feels increasingly isolated, and Daniel fears that she will just up and leave. She wouldn’t be the first.

Years ago, Emma Bestwick left her cottage and never came back, her disappearance never resolved, much to the chagrin of DCI Hannah Scarlett, head of the local Cold Case Review Team. But recently there are been calls to the local newspaper dropping hints about Emma’s death. With the case reopened, Hannah and Daniel are thrown together again, and soon discover that someone is desperate to preserve the secrets of the past, whatever the cost. Amazon

So that’s my reading week, what does yours look like?