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by Martin Edwards
Allison & Busby, April 2010
352 pages
19.99 GBP
ISBN: 0749007893

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

THE SERPENT POOL is a welcome addition to a thoroughly dependable series based in the Lake District and not the one the tourists see, particularly at the height of winter.

The books focus on DCI Hannah Scarlett and historian Daniel Kind. She's been semi-sidelined in the cold cases department; he's single again and working on a book on Thomas De Quincey. And they're still circling each other cautiously.

Hannah's latest case, hampered by a Jack the Lad new colleague and her careerist boss, is investigating what happened to Bethany Friend, who seemingly drowned in the Serpent Pool. Except, Bethany was scared of water, so why would she commit suicide there?

And Hannah is starting to wonder what her bookseller boyfriend Marc Amos knows about Bethany's death and about the murder of his best customer in a deserted boat house.

THE SERPENT POOL is fairly slow moving, and part of that is down to the plot being intertwined with the characters' private lives. Hannah's boyfriend Marc has always been a borderline unsympathetic character, and spreading the whole saga so thinly over the series is starting to drag. And the unresolved sexual tension between Hannah and Daniel is also getting a touch protracted. She's telling him things about a case where he found the body that I bet she shouldn't.

This aside, THE SERPENT POOL is an engrossing read. What I love best about the series is the setting Edwards pulls the reader deep into a beautiful but bleak part of England. And he also presents us with a raft of convincing characters we've all met people like Hannah's scheming boss, the larger-than-life colleague, the ever-so-smooth police PR woman and the seedy college lecturer who makes you want to wash your hands after reading about him!

I miss Hannah's sidekick Nick and I wouldn't be sorry to see the back of Marc. But Edwards provides us with intelligent and well-plotted crime fiction, plus an ending you won't see coming. He'll always be welcome on my shelf!

Sharon Wheeler is a UK-based journalist, writer and lecturer.

Reviewed by Sharon Wheeler, July 2010

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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