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Chris High reviews the book 'The Cipher Garden' by Martin Edwards

THE CIPHER GARDEN

Martin Edwards
Publisher: Alison & Busby
ISBN: 0-74908-286-0
2005

Front Cover of 'The Cipher Garden' written by Martin Edwards

The Cipher Garden
by Martin Edwards

The Cipher Garden, the second Martin Edwards novel in his Lake District Mystery series, is as compelling a Crime Fiction novel as is likely to be found. A lot darker than its predecessor, The Coffin Trail, Edwards has managed to encapsulate the mysterious beauty of The Lakes and has imbued them with even more macabre majesty, through tight descriptive prose, credible scenarios and manifestly believable characterisations.

 


Warren Howe, a husband and father of two, is brutally slaughtered with his own scythe by a mysterious hooded figure. He had been on a garden-landscaping job, digging an excavation trench into which the killer would soon throw his bloodied, lifeless body. The police identify several suspects but, due to the lack of evidence, they fail to make an arrest.

Years later an anonymous tip-off sparks the interest of DCI Hannah Scarlett and, despite her superior's discouragement, she follows her instincts and pursues the case. Hannah's investigations lead her to suspect Howe's widow, Tina, but she has an alibi that seems to put her out of the frame and only when historian Daniel Kind's discoveries about the unusual garden attached to his new home emerge, does the crucial link Hannah's investigation carry her forward. As Hannah and Daniel delve deeper in their quest for the truth, they discover that in this village old sins cast long shadows.

Here, the characters of Kind and Scarlett are much more rounded and natural. Their chemistry is tinged with a tension that invigorates their individual personalities so that the reader yearns for them to be drawn closer together. Alone, they are two people set in their own separate worlds. Together, they are a team made in heaven.

The plotline is fast, gripping and, at times, disturbing, which openly demands pages to be turned. There are also more of the delicate insights to the beauty and background of The Lake District itself; The Cipher Garden unearths more history of the region than an entire ream of Tourist Information pamphlets could ever manage, which never slows or detracts from the storyline in any way.

If a Crime Fiction fan is looking for something supremely well written, deeply intriguing and darkly sinister, then there is nobody who could possibly be disappointed with this latest offering from Martin Edwards.

Order this book online - Linghams Booksellers


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