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Edwards, Martin - 'The Arsenic Labyrinth'
Hardback: 377 pages (Feb. 2007) Publisher: Allison & Busby ISBN: 0749081112

THE ARSENIC LABYRINTH sees the welcome return of historian Daniel Kind and DCI Hannah Scarlett, head of the Cold Case Review Team, in the Lake District.

It's the ten-year anniversary of the disappearance of Emma Bestwick and the local paper runs a piece on her vanishing. Coincidentally someone who knows what happened to her, Guy Koenig a small beer criminal and con man, has returned to the area after a ten year absence. Guy wants to put Emma's sister's mind at rest and to let her know what happened to Emma and so tips off the paper as to where Emma's body should be.

Hannah's team springs in to action and discover not one but two skeletons under the 'Arsenic Labyrinth' near to the village of Coniston. Hannah's investigation involves questioning Emma's sister and brother-in-law, her ex-lover and the couple who were her landlords before Emma came into a sizeable amount of money of a mysterious provenance.

Meanwhile, Daniel is trying to find something to write about. His interest is piqued by some papers about John Ruskin, an early environmentalist, and his studies lead him to speak to a local amateur historian who also happens to be Emma's brother-in-law as well as the local librarian, Emma's former landlady, and he can't help but be intrigued by the modern mystery.

Daniel and Hannah have an unspoken attraction for each other - Hannah recognises her old boss, Daniel's father, in the son - it is one they’ve not acted on as both are partnered. However their parallel enquiries continue to bring them together and by the end of the book, one of them is single again.

THE ARSENIC LABYRINTH is a classy and classic British crime novel. A mix of amateur sleuth and police procedural, there are clues available for the reader to have a good guess at what happened to Emma Bestwick. As with THE COFFIN TRAIL and THE CIPHER GARDEN another part of the Lake District is spotlighted. The combination of likeable characters and a strong plot with informative local history and an evocative setting make this series a winner.

Read another review of THE ARSENIC LABYRINTH.

Karen Meek, England
March 2007

Karen blogs at Euro Crime.

Details of the author's other books with links to reviews can be found on the Books page.
More European crime fiction reviews can be found on the Reviews page.

last updated 18/10/2009 10:18