The Arsenic Labyrinth
Review: Martin Edward's third mystery set in the Lake District of England, The Arsenic Labyrinth, is at its best in the beautiful descriptions of the region and for creating a moody atmosphere for the characters. The plot, however, is a bit convoluted and the overlapping storylines make it at times difficult to follow.
After reading an article about the 10-year anniversary of the disappearance of Emma Bestwick, Guy Koenig, a man who knows better than to divulge too many secrets, makes an anonymous call to the reporter who wrote the story, stating simply, "Emma Bestwick won't be coming back." This phone call sets into motion a series of events that includes reopening the case by Detective Chief Inspector Hannah Scarlett, who was originally assigned to investigate the missing girl. Independently, historian Daniel Kind is researching the life of John Ruskin, the influential 19th century author, poet, and artist who spent much of his later life in the Lake District. Daniel's reasearch and Hannah's investigation intersect at a series of tunnels beneath the landscape known locally as The Arsenic Labyrinth, culminating in the resolution to the mystery of a young woman's disappearance a decade ago.
Following an intriguing opening chapter, The Arsenic Labyrinth quickly loses its momentum as Edwards sets up the various subplots through alternating points of view. The most interesting of these is that of Guy Koenig, a petty criminal and con man, who plays a pivotal role in the investigation, and, as Hannah considers him, "never had an unselfish impulse in his life". Somewhat ironically, it isn't until after his murder about halfway through that the story regains the traction of its original premise. The startling conclusion, with its disclosure of Guy's true involvement in the disappearance of Emma Bestwick 10 years ago, more than compensates for a slow start to this reflective mystery.
Acknowledgment: Poisoned Pen Press provided an ARC of The Arsenic Labyrinth for this review.
Review Copyright © 2007 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Poisoned Pen Press (Hardcover), April 2008
ISBN-13: 9781590584415; ISBN-10: 1590584414
Location(s) referenced in The Arsenic Labyrinth: England's Lake District
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The Arsenic Labyrinth by Martin Edwards — A Lake District Mystery
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Publication Date: January 2007
List Price: $24.95