The Puzzle of Blackstone Lodge by Martin Edwards
Whenever a book is marketed “for fans of Agatha Christie” I can’t help but snatch it up. I have long been enamored with her ability to weave together a captivating puzzle, intriguing setting, and unforgettable characters into one snappy, little mystery. But truthfully, these modern-day comparisons to the Queen of Mystery often fall far short of expectation. And I’ve learned to approach books with this hook with some caution.
So when I started reading The Puzzle of Blackstone Lodge, I was very happy to find that it was absolutely on point with the Christie vibes! Give me a small town, a host of characters with hidden motivations, a detective with brilliant deductions, and a twisty plot to keep me on my toes — and I’m all in!
Then again, this is exactly what I would expect from a mystery by Martin Edwards, the current president of the Detection Club. Christie fans might remember that Agatha herself was a President of this club, as was G.K Chesterton and Dorothy L. Sayers! While I haven’t read this author before, that fact alone was enough to persuade me! (Not to mention his Edgar nomination and Diamond Dagger award!)
I love it when a murder mystery involves lots of murder, and The Puzzle of Blackstone Lodge certainly met that requirement! The plot was complicated and had quite a few characters, but once I got into it, the story was difficult to put down. I also appreciated how all of the details tied together at the end — there are no wasted clues or irrelevant characters, it’s all a part of the larger plot. This makes for a very twisty, layered story.
Despite the 1930s setting, Rachel Savernake has a much more “modern detective” feel in comparison to Poirot or Miss Marple. She is a risk-taker and an admitted thrill-seeker, but she also has a brilliant mind and is able to use those “little grey cells” to sort through the abundance of mysterious and deadly happenings in Blackstone Fell. I loved her little band of found family and how they helped her investigate.
This book also came with some really fun add-ons, including a map at the beginning and a “cluefinder” at the end. The cluefinder was a really fun touch and was apparently a common device used in murder mystery novels in the twenties and thirties. Essentially, the author lays out the various clues to the mystery and highlights the page you could find it on. It was fun to see which clues I picked up on and which ones absolutely passed me by! (Just try not to peek ahead to avoid spoilers!)
While this is the third book in the Rachel Savernake series, I had no problem reading it as a standalone. Set in a creepy little town and filled with both intricate puzzles and delightful characters, The Puzzle of Blackstone Lodge was a thoroughly entertaining mystery.
Readers looking for a gothic murder mystery with a classic detective
This post contains affiliate links; as an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Advance copy of the book provided courtesy of the publisher, Sourcebooks | Poisoned Pen Press. All opinions expressed are my own.
About the book:
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.