The Arsenic Labyrinth

‘A beautifully-crafted book. Events from the past are woven into a fascinating contemporary rural mystery to make a satisfying whole. And for lovers of the classic whodunit, there’s a delicious twist in the tail.’ 

Ann Cleeves, CWA Gold Dagger winner

‘Ambitious, nuanced and brimful of Lake Country atmosphere.’ 

Kirkus Reviews

‘Wonderfully convoluted case with more zigs and zags than the labyrinth created decades ago by arsenic miners in the local fells…this is a book that has it all—character, plot, and pace—as well as a portrait of the Lake District so vividly drawn that one almost feels the need for an umbrella while reading it.’ 

Tom and Enid Schantz, The Denver Post~

‘Patrons who enjoy challenging mysteries with complex characters, intricate relationships, and dangerous secrets (think Deborah Crombie, P.D. James, and Elizabeth George) will snap this one up.’ 

Library Journal (starred review)

‘The thrill of Edwards’ latest Lake District Mystery lies in his ability to keep that secret–and others–always in motion…The fells and spars and the village itself provide a rich setting–along with the thematically central Museum of Myth and Legend–but the characters’ emotional landscape really drives the story forward, including Scarlett’s and Kind’s overlapping relationship woes, hardly secondary to the plot. Passions both past and present provide complications and satisfying solutions, with hints of more ahead as this delightful series continues.’ 

Art Taylor, Mystery Scene Magazine

‘A classy and classic British crime novel. A mix of amateur sleuth and police procedural, there are clues available for the reader to have a good guess at what happened to Emma Bestwick…The combination of likeable characters and a strong plot with informative local history and an evocative setting make this series a winner.’ 

Karen Meek, Eurocrime

‘As ever, Edwards serves us a rich mixture of local history, strong characterisation and cunning plotting.’

Mat Coward, Morning Star

‘Highly recommended.’

Lizzie Hayes, Mystery Women

‘The Arsenic Labyrinth is Martin Edwards at his very, very best and is a complex though never confusing thriller that should be read by anyone with a love of excellent writing. Edwards’s grasp on the descriptive is so vivid, the scents of The Lakes become ever more evocative so that one can almost smell the bracken, feel the mist and sense the knives being stabbed into backs by the locals, as gossip and innuendo increases on every page.’ 

Chris High, Tangled Web UK

‘A classic whodunit, within a modern rural setting, and is just the sort of book that first drew me into crime fiction. The plot is complex, and early on I drew a simple little diagram to show the relationships between the characters, some of which proved merely skillful red herrings. The excellent plot involves slowly uncovering the personal histories of numerous suspects, and their relevance to past and present crimes. This is top quality crime writing which beautifully evokes the atmosphere of the Lakes, and importantly the sharply defined characters have the type of credible interrelationships that develop in small communities.’ 

Crime Scraps blog

‘Martin Edwards has written a mystery that has so many superlative twists that readers are constantly in a state of suspense wondering what will happen next. From almost the very beginning the audience knows that Guy was instrumental in Emma’s death but they don’t know how or why he feels bad about it after all this time of staying silent. Surprisingly readers will feel for Guy, pitying him for not traveling a different road. This tale is multi-layered and a one sitting reading experience.’ 

Harriet Klausner, The Best Reviews

‘The overlapping and complex relationships are eventually sorted out, but just when you think you’ve worked it all out there are yet more complications. I never guessed who-did-it until just before the end. There is mystery upon mystery as the secrets of the Arsenic Labyrinth are revealed. An engrossing book that had me racing through it and itching to get back to it each time I put it down.’
Books Please blog

‘…well-paced, particularly in the second half, has several satisfyingly unexpected twists and Edwards has generated genuine interest in finding out all the villager’s hidden secrets even if they end up having little to do with the overall mystery. I’m also impressed that the book can be easily read and enjoyed without having read the previous books in the series.’ 

Reactions to Reading blog

‘Above all, the novel is about deceit, betrayal, the fickleness of the human heart. Every one of the major characters has been or is going through a divorce or an emotional separation of some kind. Each displays a moment of pure selfishness. Not a one is capable of being completely, totally open and honest with other people. Edwards ultimately suggests that the labyrinthine quality of the human condition is a more baffling mystery than is the case of whodunit.’ 

Reviewing the Evidence

‘I like the way Edwards mixes knowledge about the history of the Lakes District, in this case the production of arsenic as a byproduct of copper mining, with the elements of whodunnit and whydunnit. The thread of the investigation is interwoven with human interest elements, the story of Daniel Kind and his partner Miranda seeking to live the quieter rural life; Hannah Scarlett and Mark Amos struggling to maintain a satisfying relationship in the face of Hannah’s work and his expanding bookshop business. There are many elements that the reader will recognise: the rise and fall of family fortunes over the generations, the struggle to make ends meet, gambling addiction, vulnerability, and greed.’ 

Mysteries in Paradise blog