Series: Rachel Savernake #3
Published by Poisoned Pen Press on August 1, 2023
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The Puzzle of Blackstone Lodge is a complexly layered mystery perfect for fans of impossible mysteries inspired by Agatha Christie. Martin Edwards pens the perfect locked-tower puzzle with a gothic edge set in 1930s Northern England.
1930: Nell Fagan is looking for a second chance at a career in investigative journalism and the call of Blackstone Fell's sanatorium is irresistible. In 1606, a man vanished from a locked gatehouse in a remote Yorkshire village, and 300 years later, it happened again. Nell confides in the best sleuth she knows, Rachel Savernake Looking for answers, Rachel travels to lonely Blackstone Fell in Yorkshire, with its eerie moor and sinister tower. With help from her friend Jacob Flint – who's determined to expose a fraudulent clairvoyant – Rachel will risk her life to bring an end to the disappearances at Blackstone Fell where people go in, but never come out.
The Puzzle of Blackstone Lodge is set in Yorkshire in the 1930’s. Nell Fagan is somewhat desperately trying to find a great story to get back in the good graces of a good London newspaper. She’s on the trail of something possibly big in the small town of Blackstone Fell, looking into historic and modern disappearances as well as the local sanatorium. When she realizes the extent of her possible case, she decides to consult Rachel Savernake, our “amateur” sleuth. She is not 100% honest about what’s going on however and Rachel dismisses her. Nell returns to Yorkshire to continue her investigation alone and with difficulty. Meanwhile, Rachel enlists some associates to look into the matters, too.
It’s a good story with a lot going on. The disappearances are a locked room mystery, but more of a sidelight to the main plot. We’ve got seances, dangerous caves, and a spooky tower, and Nell was right to be suspicious of the sanatarium. There are a lot of characters, both dead and alive, but the author does a good job of letting us get to know them. Rachel herself is not particularly likable though. She’s obviously intelligent, but aloof, secretive, and always right. Her sidekicks are more enjoyable.
The plot is well done and moves along at a good pace. There are plenty of clues sprinkled throughout, even if I didn’t catch them all. The Puzzle also has a good surprise at the end, one I didn’t see coming. I’ll probably pick up the next in the series.
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