The Cipher Garden
'The second Lake District mystery finds Daniel Kind, Oxford University historian and amateur sleuth, trying to determine why his garden seems almost deliberately designed as a labyrinth. Meanwhile, Detective Chief Inspector Hannah Scarlett, head of the cold case squad, gets a tip that fingers a suspect in an old murder: the dead man's wife. Slowly, even gracefully, the author weaves the two stories in and around each other until they become one. Mixing cozy and hard-boiled ambience, the series' setting, a quaint English village with big-city problems, takes center stage here, keeping readers off guard by mixing the familiar with the unfamiliar. Perhaps this innovative use of landscape as character eventually will seem quite ordinary, but enjoy it while you can. It's not often the genre offers something genuinely fresh.'
David Pitt, "Booklist"
‘Edwards expertly scatters clues to an ugly series of surprises in the manner of Peter Robinson and the early P.D. James.’
‘Fans of the British village mystery who are very particular about setting should trek to the Cipher Garden, Martin Edwards's sequel to The Coffin Trail. Like its predecessor, this whodunit derives its appeal from the fey charms of the Lake District. Not that the residents of Old Sawrey are themselves charming. With the exception of Daniel Kind, an inquisitive historian doing research on the oddly disharmonious garden of the old cottage he recently bought, no one seems to have any hobbies or personal interests outside of bedding one another's spouses. Indeed, the galloping adultery is central to the plot, which turns on the unsolved homicide of a local landscaper, a randy old goat who was chopped down by his own scythe. But if the characters are bland, the locale is stunning - high and windblown, a bit wild. A nice spot to commit murder.’
Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times
'It's very well written and the leads, Daniel and Hannah are very likeable and it seems probable that they will end up together eventually. Their current partners though are still in the frame, however there are some slight cracks showing in their respective relationships. The whodunit aspect is gripping, I didn't have a clue who the guilty party was and after a slightly slow start the story really drew me in. This is an excellent British mystery with the bonus of a beautiful setting and a bit of local history thrown in.'
Karen Meek, Eurocrime
'A dark, claustrophobic book which blew me away.… And here is where the book impresses. Edwards presents a small cast of inter-knit characters in a tiny village in the middle of a swelteringly hot English summer. As I started the book I worried that the action was going to be too slow, but Edwards in fact paces his plot impeccably.'
Sharon Wheeler, Reviewing the Evidence
'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.. 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 ciction 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.’
Chris High, Tangled Web UK
'Set in the Lake District this murder mystery has everything – a beautiful setting captured so well by Martin Edwards, believable characters, and an unsolved murder with a good mixture of mystery and suspense. It’s a well paced, intricate and tense drama that kept me gripped right to the end.'
Books Please blog
'Edwards' story describes the gardens and the Lake District beautifully. The English village setting is perfect for this puzzling mystery. The Cipher Garden is an intriguing, twisted play on an ancient Greek story. It's a welcome sequel to The Coffin Trail.'
Lesa Holstine blog
'The Cipher Garden is an enjoyable and convincing crime story with added pleasures in the form of the wonderful Lake District environment and the likeable main characters.'
Dorte H blog
'Martin Edwards has cleverly written a claustrophobic mystery, involving a small set of suspects: he doesn't cheat the reader, he doesn't have to use a locked room, and the solution is a clever one that I didn't guess in advance. The pace is slow in the main body of the book, yet hots up excitingly to provide a satisfying and even moving conclusion.'
'This has a complicated and compelling plot, good character development, well-written and very worth reading.'
'It reads like your average Caroline Graham Inspector Barnaby novel with the murder as opening scene and the detectives interviewing many suspects but I believe that's what I like about these types of novels to begin with. But, there were a few surprise scenes (one at a skydiving show) and a situation happens with the main character that, for me, gave it depth.'
Clarissa Draper blog
‘And even when you think you've guessed character motivations, Edwards has several crafty twists secreted high up his sleeve. In the end the plot is fine and slotted neatly into place. But even better were the characters, particularly the unresolved attraction between Hannah and Daniel, both in slightly uncomfortable relationships, and linked by the fact Hannah worked with Daniel's policeman father. [...] A thoroughly disturbing yet satisfying read.’
Diana Bane, Spinetingler Magazine
'The Howe cold case investigation is one of the best police procedurals of this always exciting series.'
Harriet Klausner, The Best Reviews