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Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Serpent Pool, by Martin Edwards (trade, $14.95)

This is the fifth installment by Martin Edwards of his series set in the Lake District of England and starring DCI Hannah Scarlett and historian Daniel Kind. In England, Edwards is also famous for his Harry Devlin series, which has not yet appeared in the U.S.

After having read a couple of the books in the Lake District series, I thought this series was kinder and gentler than it now appears to be. That doesn't mean I don't like it, although this one had a plot that was a little far-fetched and gloomy and I had trouble digesting it.

Hannah Scarlett, she suspects because of misdeeds in a prior case, has been "demoted" to the Cold Case Squad. She picks up the case of a young woman drowned six years ago in one of the many lakes. Was it suicide or murder? Hannah's now-deceased mentor, Ben Kind, thought it was murder, but he could never prove it. The young woman's death may be linked to a couple of present-day murders. Unfortunately, the links also point to her boyfriend, Marc Amos, from whom she is growing more and more distant. This is in inverse proportion to how she feels about Daniel Kind, the son of her mentor. Ah, love's bright confusion.

The tangled loves won and lost are more interesting than the murder story. Edwards handles his characters well, but the dark, twisted, Thomas De Quincy-fueled aggro stretches credulity.

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