Monday 25 January 2010

'Character, Atmosphere, Plot and Pace...'

The Serpent Pool, and its forthcoming publication, were far from my mind over the weekend, as I cleared the last possessions from my mother’s home, and then set about trying to find a good place where she can be cared for in future. All very, very thought-provoking, but as if to remind me that Life Must Go On, I have been lucky enough to receive quite marvellous reviews of the new book on both sides of the Atlantic - and in major newspapers.

Here’s what Laura Wilson has to say in The Guardian:

‘On the face of it, the Lake District couldn't be more different from the frantic, grasping shallowness of [London], but in Martin Edwards's capable hands, it proves just as effective a backdrop to murder. Local "cold case" specialist DCI Hannah Scarlett is tasked with uncovering the truth behind a young woman's apparent suicide by drowning. Naturally there's more to it than meets the eye, and it soon becomes clear that the death is connected to some recent murders. With evocative descriptions of everything from landscape to cocktail parties, expert plotting, an engaging protagonist and strongly delineated characters, The Serpent Pool is old-fashioned, well-made crime fiction at its best, and the dénouement will have you choking on your Kendal mint cake.’

In The Denver Post, Tom and Enid Schantz said:

‘For whatever reason, it's taken a small press to publish this outstanding series of English traditional mysteries in the United States. All feature DCI Hannah Scarlett, a cold- case investigator, and Oxford historian Daniel Kind, whose policeman father was Hannah's mentor.

The setting is England's beautiful (but gloomy) Lake District, where both live and work. Like its predecessors, this one has a wonderfully convoluted plot, further complicated by a subtle chemistry between Hannah and Daniel that neither is ready to acknowledge.

In their fourth outing, the relationship between Hannah and Daniel continues to slowly progress, with Hannah now having problems with her live-in bookseller boyfriend Marc Amos and her insolent new junior officer and Daniel, now unencumbered, writing a biography of the opium-addicted 19th century writer Thomas De Quincey.

A cold case that Hannah is working on, the drowning of a young woman in the Serpent Pool near her home, seems to be connected to two more recent murders, and she thinks it's no coincidence that all three victims died in the exact way that would have been the most terrifying for each of them, and that all three cases have a rare-book connection that could disturbingly point to Marc.

Character, atmosphere, plot and pace — this series has it all, and fans of Stephen Booth and Peter Robinson would do well to check it out.’


Anonymous said...

Martin - My thoughts are with you as you and your mother make this difficult transition.

I am so eager for my copy of The Serpent Pool The cover art's terrific,by the way, and I'm sure the great reviews are well-deserved : ). The fine reviews of the other LD novels certainly were.

Anonymous said...

I'm looking forward to picking up The Serpent Pool while I'm at the Poisoned Pen next week, Martin. I'm glad that this series continues.

I'm making big changes in my mom's care this week as well. Good luck to you as you deal with all that. It's tough I know.

Ann Elle Altman said...

I can't wait to read it. It's on my wish list.


seana graham said...

What a mixed bag, Martin. It looks like The Serpent Pool is getting some intercontinental notice, which is great, but I am sorry to hear about your mother's situation and hope you can find a place where she'll be peaceful and happy and safe.

I'll have to make sure we're getting Serpent's Pool in our store over here in the U.S. Looking forward to reading it.

BooksPlease said...

Sorry to hear about your mother's situation - I know what you must be feeling.

I can't wait to get a copy of The Serpent Pool.

Dorte H said...

I hope you have found the right kind of home for your mother!

And congratulations on your very well-deserved success!

Paul Beech said...


I was involved in placing my late-mother in a care home eight years ago and am currently at the tail end of the process with my elderly father, so I know what a harrowing business it is.

In searching for a care home for your mother, I’d strongly recommend you check out the Care Quality Commission website at

This gives details of homes by category and area and provides links to the CSCI inspection reports. In my view the CSCI (Commission for Social Care Inspection) reports are essential reading.

I’ve found care home managers very willing to give a guided tour of their premises and discuss matters in detail – meals, administration of medication, activities, outings, staffing ratio, supervision, training, visiting, waiting list, fees, etc. They’ve also been very happy to let my father attend a half-day or full-day ‘taster’ session to see how he felt about a place.

So good luck with that.

‘The Serpent Pool’ sounds absolutely terrific – any chance of buying an advance copy at Ormskirk?

Best wishes,


Maxine Clarke said...

So sorry to read about your mother, Martin. I remember the similar experience with my own mother and it is a challenging one. My thoughts are with you.

On The Serpent Pool, I probably should not say this but I have been sent a copy by the publisher so have immediately put it at the top of my massive queue and have started reading it - and it's totally compelling so far. Everyone should just get hold of a copy somehow, and read it. Great stuff!

Martin Edwards said...

Many thanks for these kind comments. They are, needless to say, greatly appreciated.
Paul, thanks for the info. Yes, the book will be on sale at the event on Saturday.
Maxine, thanks - hope it continues to live up to expectations!

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I'm looking forward to the great read, Martin!

I'm so sorry your mother is doing so poorly--that's such a hard problem to face. Know that what you're doing is best for all...for her to get close care and careful monitoring, and for you to know she's in good hands and still be able to live your life. Best wishes to you both!

Mystery Writing is Murder

harriet said...

I have just got my copy of this and have started reading it -- great stuff. Will be reviewing it soon. Meanwhile, I hope all is going as well as can be expected in your troubling time with your mother.

Jilly said...

Such a worrying situation with your mother and I hope everything works out all right with her move.

Martin Edwards said...

Elizabeth, Harriet and Jilly - I do appreciate your comments; thanks.