Friday, July 06, 2007

Pg. 99: Martin Edwards's "The Arsenic Labyrinth"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Martin Edwards's The Arsenic Labyrinth.

About the book, from the publisher:

After 10 years, Guy -- a drifter with a taste for deception -- has returned to Coniston in England's Lake District. A local journalist, Tony di Venuto, is campaigning to revive interest in the disappearance of Emma Bestwick, and Guy knows what happened to her.

When he tips off the newspaperman that Emma will not be coming home, DCI Hannah Scarlett, head of Cumbria's Cold Case Review Team, re-opens the old investigation. Her enquiries take her to the Museum of Myth and Legend and to the remote and eerie Arsenic Labyrinth -- a series of stone tunnels used to remove arsenic from tin ore.

Meanwhile, historian Daniel Kind is immersing himself in the work of John Ruskin, whose neighbors created the Arsenic Labyrinth. A shocking discovery makes it clear to Hannah that there is not one mystery to solve, but two, and she turns to Daniel for help in untangling the secrets of the past. As Hannah and Daniel struggle to resist a growing but dangerous attraction, Guy's plan to make a quick buck runs into trouble, and he has to resort to desperate measures. Someone is determined to kill to keep their secrets safe.

Set against the stunning backdrop of the Lake District in winter, the novel depicts how passionate relationships can lead to obsession and murder.

Among the praise for The Arsenic Labyrinth:
"A beautifully-crafted book. Events from the past are woven into a fascinating contemporary rural mystery to make a satisfying whole. And for lovers of the classic whodunit, there's a delicious twist in the tail."
--Ann Cleeves, CWA Gold Dagger winner

"Ambitious, nuanced and brimful of Lake Country atmosphere."

"Wonderfully convoluted case with more zigs and zags than the labyrinth created decades ago by arsenic miners in the local fells ... this is a book that has it all — character, plot, and pace — as well as a portrait of the Lake District so vividly drawn that one almost feels the need for an umbrella while reading it."
--Tom and Enid Schantz, The Denver Post

"Patrons who enjoy challenging mysteries with complex characters, intricate relationships, and dangerous secrets (think Deborah Crombie, P.D. James, and Elizabeth George) will snap this one up."
--Library Journal (starred review)

"The thrill of Edwards' latest Lake District Mystery lies in his ability to keep that secret -- and others -- always in motion…The fells and spars and the village itself provide a rich setting -- along with the thematically central Museum of Myth and Legend -- but the characters' emotional landscape really drives the story forward, including Scarlett's and Kind's overlapping relationship woes, hardly secondary to the plot. Passions both past and present provide complications and satisfying solutions, with hints of more ahead as this delightful series continues."
--Art Taylor, Mystery Scene Magazine

"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…. The combination of likeable characters and a strong plot with informative local history and an evocative setting make this series a winner."
--Karen Meek, Eurocrime

"As ever, Edwards serves us a rich mixture of local history, strong characterisation and cunning plotting."
--Mat Coward, Morning Star

Martin Edwards is a prolific crime novelist and story writer. His many books and stories include two previous Lake District mysteries featuring DCI Hannah Scarlett and historian Daniel Kind: The Coffin Trail and The Cipher Garden.

Visit Edwards's website to learn more about The Arsenic Labyrinth and other works.

The Page 99 Test: The Arsenic Labyrinth.

--Marshal Zeringue