THE SERPENT POOL
By Martin Edwards
Published by Poisoned Pen Press,
February, 2010, Hard cover, 284 pgs.
The author is experienced, long published. He has four mysteries in this, the Lake District police cases, featuring DCI Hannah Scarlett and historian Daniel Kind. I admit, ever since I was introduced to the Lake District through the excellent novels of Arthur Ransome, he of The Picts and Swallows, I've been a big fan of almost everything written by for and about the area. Edwards has twelve novels and a sizeable canon, plus he's a well-received critic and commentator. For those reasons I was somewhat disappointed by the long very well-written set of annoyances Mr. Martin, as narrator has put forth. He appears to dislike the wealthy, attorneys, police funding, professional police administrators, the high-born and the low, plus a bunch of others. Too bad. His annoyances get in the way of full enjoyment of a really well-conceived and rendered story.
DCI Hanna Scarlett, is still coping with her irascible lover and book dealer Marc Amos and her attraction to historian Daniel Kind. Kind, back in the district is the son of Hannah's ex-boss. Hannah heads the local Cold Case squad looking at the seven year-old death of Emily Friend. Was it murder? Or suicide and does it matter after so many years? DCI Scarlett thinks so and she takes her upstanding sense of justice into a case that grows more and more complicated and closer to home than she care to contemplate.
It is often said that good mystery writing is founded on the careful and measured release of information to the reader. Martin is a master of the technique. Whether he writes about Hannah's personal problems with the men in her life, the interesting murders of two book dealers/collectors in the immediate area, or the weather which can be depressing at times, the author maintains careful control. In most aspects, this is a novel that can be savored and fully enjoyed.
Case of the Greedy Lawyer, Devils Island, Bloody Halls