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The Arsenic Labyrinth: A Lake District Mystery    by Martin Edwards Amazon.com order for
Arsenic Labyrinth
by Martin Edwards
Order:  USA  Can
Poisoned Pen, 2007 (2007)

* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

We're back in the Lake District of England with DCI Hannah Scarlett and historian Daniel Kind. We left them at the end of Edward Martin's second novel, The Cypher Garden. Hannah and Daniel are attracted to each other, but quell their longings because each has a significant other.

Now we have the sequel, The Arsenic Labyrinth. A ten-year anniversary of the disappearance of a local woman is publicized and mysterious Guy Stevenson appears in town, with no visible means of support but a roving eye and a taste for the good life. An investigation into the disappearance leads both Hannah and Daniel on the trail of a possible murder. An unscrupulous reporter with an eye for a spot on a big city newspaper pushes for a conclusion to the case. An involved citizenry of the village of Old Sawrey each with their own agenda - have widely varying opinions about trying to find the missing woman.

The Lake country plays a big role in this tale of murder and suspicion, especially the arsenic labyrinth that is a feature of tin mining. Not many hikers or day trippers go near the caverns that were formed by the mining process. Rough walking and the danger of falling into one of these holes in the ground deter them from exploring too far off the beaten paths.

I enjoy the descriptions of the flora and fauna of the Lake District. I've been to England but never to that particular area. The action moves while keeping suspense at the forefront. The number of characters kept me guessing, but it's worth keeping everyone straight. The characters are finely-drawn with enough background to keep them under suspicion. I kept hoping for Hannah and Daniel to admit their feelings for each other, but you'll have to read and find out for yourself how that comes out.

As in The Cypher Garden, the mystery is solved with an exciting denouement. The Arsenic Labyrinth is well worth the read. Hope there is more coming soon, as I love the village and its inhabitants.

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