BOOK REVIEW: THE ARSENIC LABYRINTH
As with 2005's THE CIPHER GARDEN, Martin Edwards finds suspense and murderous intent in ambitions common to human beings in every walk of life. Edward's series featuring cold case investigator Hannah Scarlett and historian Daniel Kind doesn't include gory, violent crime scenes or frantic, dangerous chases through city streets or suburban walkways.
Instead in this very satisfying read, Edwards dishes up excerpts from old, dusty diaries; a lonely woman operating a small hotel, easy pickings for an amoral con man; an impressively shoddy old mansion operated as a mediocre museum by its elderly, deluded owner; residents of the area involved with their children's upbringing in loving hope similar to parents the world over; and the uneasy atmosphere of an area in the scenic byways nearby which hides a network of old abandoned mining tunnels - the labyrinth referred to in the title.
A telephoned tip to a local newspaper begins a chain of events which leads to a search operation in the tunnels, conducted by the local police cold case unit. They are not surprised to find the body hinted at by the tipster. But no one was expecting a second body, several decades older than the first.
Kind has been conducting research into the history of the area, in preparation for a scholarly book on the life and career of a famous resident of the area. His startling discoveries amid long abandoned documents moldering in a school library provide the link that Scarlett needs to identify both corpses and solve two long ago murders.
Almost in spite of themselves and against their better judgement, Scarlett and Kind continue to feed the embers of a growing attraction to each other. Edwards wisely keeps this part of his story low key, adding to the suspense and encouraging readers to anticipate the next installment.
REVIEWED BY WOODSTOCK
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