Martin Edwards

Alison & Busby, Hbk £19.99

Released: Feb 8th 2010

Reviewer: Catherine Hunt


Now retired and living in Brittany Catherine Hunt is a former lecturer in French. Co- author of Atelier Grammaire and other text books she reads, reviews and collects crime fiction.


It’s always a thrill to read a good crime novel and discover that it’s part of a series.  The Serpent Pool, advertised as a  ‘Lake District Mystery’   follows The Coffin TrailThe Cipher Garden and The Arsenic Labyrinth. Books to seek out. 

Two crimes are plaited together here, a cold case investigated by DCI Hannah Scarlett and a viciously cruel killing followed by others, equally barbaric, investigated by Hannah’s friend and colleague, Fern Larter.  Edwards’ plotting is assured and his characters, especially that of Hannah Scarlett,  well-rounded,  but what really makes his book attractive is the use of background. He is so familiar with the lakes and fells of his chosen region that one feels that the crimes could not have been committed anywhere else. The extreme and swiftly changing weather, the narrow, twisting roads, the small  almost incestuous population are all elements which harbour danger, secrets   and grudges. 

In most traditional police procedurals the author milks the private lives of the investigating team to provide an ongoing drama and  Edwards is no exception. Hannah  and her partner , bookseller, Marc Amos are beginning to  know one another too well and are not sure that they will stay together. Their doubts, regrets and tentative flirtations give an edge to the plot.   Their recently purchased house is quite near the scene of the cold case Hannah has vowed to solve, a shallow lake where a bound and gagged girl was found drowned a few years before.  Unease increases when she finds that Marc knew this but said nothing. Another link appears when first one and then another of Marc’s best customers is found murdered.   

The book selling and book collecting community is well drawn as is the literary influence of Thomas de Quincey.  Edwards has done his research carefully but has resisted the temptation to show off useless knowledge.   

A good story with a tense and exciting end.





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