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Edwards, Martin - 'The Cipher Garden'
Paperback: 312 pages (Aug. 2006) Publisher: Allison & Busby ISBN: 074908135X

This is a second novel in the "Lake District Mysteries". Historian Daniel Kind moved with his partner Miranda from Oxford to the Lakes. He realizes that the garden of his cottage has some intricate layout design, and it is this that forms the background to the title.

Hannah Scarlett heads the Police Cold Case Review Team and after receiving an anonymous note reopens the case of a local lothario who was killed some years previous and the murderer never discovered.

There are several suspects including the murdered man's family and several ex girlfriends and their partners.

Hannah had worked with Daniel's father who was a senior policeman before his retirement. Hannah's relationship with her partner becomes difficult as Daniel and Hannah become closer. The situation is further complicated when Daniel's sister comes to stay with him.

Hannah also has problems with her Detective Sergeant who was part of the original investigation and is too close to some of the suspects.

Most of the suspects have something to hide and the novel twists and turns and is partly narrated by Kirsty the murdered man's daughter. Daniel uses his love of history to probe the secrets of an "isolated" lakes village as well as solving the mystery of the garden. Hannah and her team slowly eliminate the suspects and reach the truth which is both startling and shocking.

I found the book engrossing, although the Kirsty character grated. There were plenty of false trails and the complex relationships kept you interested. I will certainly read the preceding book, THE COFFIN TRAIL which introduces us to Daniel and Hannah as well as await with interest the third novel, THE ARSENIC LABYRINTH. Martin Edwards has also written a series of novels set in Liverpool and featuring a legal character called Harry Devlin and I will investigate these too eventually.

Read more reviews of THE CIPHER GARDEN, here and here.

Geoff Jones, England
January 2007

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 7/08/2011 11:00