Whenever one produces a new book, inevitably one awaits the verdict of readers and reviewers with a mixture of hope and trepidation. It's important, I think, for an author to retain belief in his or her book even if it is not widely appreciated to begin with - but of course, it's much more pleasurable if the early reaction is positive.
I have high hopes of The Serpent Pool, because although I struggled over it at first, later on it felt as though the plot strands had come together in just the way I'd hoped when I started out on chapter one. And the response of my agent and various publishers has been extremely encouraging. Even so, that is no guarantee of good reviews (or any reviews, these days.)
So I'm glad to say that Booklist has given the novel the thumbs-up in advance of publication, and I'm so pleased and relieved that I can't resist recording David Pitt's assessment in full:
'Book lovers, especially fans of nineteenth-century writer and opium addict Thomas de Quincey, will enjoy the latest Lake District mystery. DCI Hannah Scarlett reopens another cold case, this one involving the drowning death, seven years ago, of a young woman. But Hannah is distracted by her personal life, especially by her rocky relationship with book dealer Marc Amos, who is himself rather upset over the death of one his best customers (whose murder-by-fire opens the novel). Meanwhile, Hannah’s friend and sometime sidekick, historian Daniel Kind, is deep into a new book on de Quincey (who was among the first writers to consider murder as the basis of a literary art form), but he, too, soon becomes distracted: his sister thinks she has accidentally killed her lover, who also happens to be a book collector. In his usual leisurely but always compelling way, Edwards pulls together these various plot threads, rewarding the patient reader with a story that is complex and intellectually stimulating. Certainly the most labyrinthine of the Lake District novels, but perhaps also the best.'