Martin Edwards is the author of the popular Harry Devlin novels, but his Lake District series is one I follow as my Nora Tierney novel-in-progress, working title THE GREEN REMAINS, is also set in Cumbria–just a tad of shameless self-promotion there.

The Serpent Pool follows Cold Case Squad’s DCI Hannah Scarlett as she investigates whether the seven year-old death of young Bethany Friend was accidental or a murder. Drowning in the shallow waters of the Perpent Pool in an isolated area up in the fells suicide had been the accepted the theory for years until Hannah gets her hands on the case, determined to find the truth for Hannah’s dying mum.

Hannah’s personal problems threaten to outshadow her investigation. Her relationship with bookshop owner Marc Amos is becoming unhinged, even as they work on a home they’ve purchased together near the Serpent Pool. At work, she is handed a new sergeant to work with, but the man brings a history of being a trouble-maker.

Hannah meets Louise Kind, sister of the historian Daniel Kind we’ve met in previously in this series. Louise has just struck her lover with a knife in an embarrassing breakup. This leads to a string of horrific murders, the involvement of serious book collectors, and Daniel’s own work on a book about 19th-century English writer Thomas De Quincey, the brilliant but opium-addicted author whose obsessions seem to be echoed in the secrets Hannah and Daniel uncover.

The next in this series is The Hanging Wood. Orla Payne returns to the Lake District and taken a job in a residential library where Daniel Kind researches and works. With his prompting, she tried to interest Hannah in unraveling the truth about the disappearance of her brother twenty years ago. At the time the teenaged Callum Hinds went missing, his uncle was suspected of harming the boy, and hanged himself after being questioned by the police. His suicide was accepted as a confession, but Orla has never believed in his guilt.

Then Orla dies in a shocking and horrific way, and Hannah becomes determined to find the truth about her death–and Callum’s. Hannah’s personal life remains as screwed up as usual, so don’t expect any resolution on that end yet, and indeed in this kind of series, these things are approached slowly.

These novels hang together on the strength of Hannah and Daniel’s characters and they progression–or lack of it, for varied reasons–on their personal relationship. My only complaint is that the copies I’ve read were both published in the US by Poisoned Pen Press, and lately their books have contained an unreasonable number of typo’s that I find extremely distracting when reading. So if you can possibly find a good used reading copy of the original UK printings, you’ll be ahead of the game.

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