The Puzzle of Blackstone Lodge
Rachel Savernake book 3
Poisoned Pen Press
August 1, 2023
The Puzzle of Blackstone Lodge by Martin Edwards is a locked room mystery with a gothic edge set in the 1930s Northern England. It has Rachel Savernake as the main protagonist.
“I love writing the Rachel books. There will be at least six books with these atmospheric mysteries of the 1930s. The Fourth book will be out in the States next year, The House of Graveyard Lane.”
“For this story I wanted a new setting for Rachel, the private investigator. Blackstone Yorkshire offers a fresh setting for her. I visited this wonderful place in Yorkshire. It is rural, avoids outsiders, gothic, and has a marsh. It was the remoteness of the location that gave me inspiration. It had a strange tower. I wanted to create an enclosed community, cut off from the rest of the world. This was the starting point for the story.”
The main character is amateur detective Rachel Savernake. “She is twenty-six. Described as an Ice Queen. She can be ruthless, cold, private, and a risk taker. She also goes by her own rules and is inquisitive. She is devoted to getting justice. She is very rich and gets herself involved in solving the mysteries in the 1930s.”
The plot starts with investigative journalist Nell Fagan looking for a second chance to revise her career. She finds out about mysterious disappearances. In 1606, Edmund Mellor, a guest of Blackstone’s very first owner, entered the lodge, locked the door behind him, and vanished, and Alfred Lejeune, repeated the trick in 1914. After she goes to Yorkshire to investigate, she also disappears.
“She is the first character readers meet. Through her eyes people see Blackstone Lodge and realize there are mysterious disappearances. She is very closely involved in the main part of the story. The different storylines are interconnected.”
To continue the investigation amateur detective Rachel Savernake is trying to put all the pieces together. “I am a huge fan of locked room mysteries. I have written it in many short stories, but for a novel it was only one of the ingredients for the plot. The disappearances were stretched over time. The explanation has a need to be logical but also must be spooky. Like Edgar Allen Poe’s short story. The murders seem too impossible but happened. The windows are barred, the doors locked, but the appeal is how was the killing done.”
Just as with mysteries in the 1930s Martin has Clue Finders at the end of the book. “Clue Finder is a device that was very popular in the late 1920s and 1930s. The detective novel was a game between the reader and the writer. All the clues are in the text, and they need to find them to help figure out the mystery. The Clue Finder fell out of favor when the genre of psychological suspense came into popularity. The Rachel series brings back the detective story of the golden age. I brought the Clue Finder in Rachel’s second book.
Fans of mysteries like Edgar Allen Poe and Agatha Christie will find these books enjoyable.