Monday, January 4, 2010
The Serpent Pool by Martin Edwards
I'm on holidays from the library for a couple of weeks & it's given me the chance to do lots of reading. I was thrilled that this book turned up on Christmas Eve for me to borrow. Martin Edwards’ Lake District series is one of my favourites. I read the first three books in the series in a great rush a couple of years ago after Elaine from the blog Random Jottings recommended them & I've been waiting for the next one ever since. The Lake District is a beautiful setting for a series, the mysteries are intriguing & the protagonists are likeable. Daniel Kind is a historian who moved back to the Lake District on a whim in the first book in the series, The Coffin Trail. His girlfriend had died & he fell into a relationship with Miranda, a journalist. DCI Hannah Scarlett has been moved sideways into the cold case squad & feels her career is going nowhere. She once worked with Daniel’s father & this is the link between them at the beginning of the series. Their tentative friendship soon develops into an unacknowledged attraction, unacknowledged because of Daniel’s relationship with Miranda & Hannah’s with Marc Amos, a secondhand bookseller. At the beginning of The Serpent Pool however, Miranda has left & Daniel has just returned from a trip to the US. Hannah & Marc have moved into a new house needing lots of renovation. The house is near a folly called the Serpent Tower & the Serpent Lake where a young girl, Bethany Friend, drowned several years ago. Hannah is determined to find out what happened to Bethany & the cold case squad begins to investigate. If it was suicide, why would she choose drowning when she was terrified of water? When George Saffell, an obsessive book collector, is found dead among the burnt remains of his precious collection, Hannah is interested as he was one of Marc’s best customers. Was it an insurance scam gone wrong? But again, George was terrified of fire, so why choose this method? Hannah & Daniel begin to suspect a connection between the deaths & Hannah is disturbed to discover that Marc knows more than he’s told her about both victims. I love the way Edwards uses history & literature in the books. Here, Daniel is researching Thomas De Quincey which leads to discussion of his essay on murder as a fine art. The Arsenic Labyrinth was full of information about the arsenic industry in the 19th century. I love reading about Marc’s job as a bookseller & the details of the cold case investigations are also fascinating. This series is a success on several levels for me. The setting, the labyrinthine plots & especially the relationship between Daniel & Hannah keep me on tenterhooks for the next instalment. Martin Edwards also has a great blog, Do You Write Under Your Own Name?