Cover Image: The Puzzle of Blackstone Lodge

The Puzzle of Blackstone Lodge

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This is an interesting read, particularly if you are a fan of Agatha Christie style mysteries. Set in England in the 1930s, this one has a bit of a creepy feel and is complicated enough so you don’t figure it out right away. My disadvantage is not having read the first two in the series although that isn’t necessary.
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I hadn't realized that "The Puzzle of Blackstone Lodge," by Martin Edwards, was the third book in the Rachel Savernake series, which led to some slight confusion when she is referred to in the first pages without any context--she finally appears almost 15% into the book. Until that point, it seemed that the novel's primary sleuth would be intrepid journalist Nell Fagan, who has traveled to Blackstone Fell in Yorkshire under an assumed name, purportedly to investigate the mystery of two men who disappeared into a locked tower centuries apart and were each never seen again. But Edwards' puzzle is much more complicated than a simple locked room mystery, and it takes all the cunning and wits of Rachel Savernake, the young and beautiful star of Edwards' series, as well as her retinue of household staff and journalist friend Jacob Flint, to uncover what's really going on in Blackstone Fell. 

Author Edwards edits the popular British Library Crime Classics series of Golden Age mysteries, so expect all their usual trappings--a Gothic village peopled with eccentric characters, lots of tea and coffee meetings, a rising body count, and action that builds toward an elaborate set piece which gathers all the major suspects together for the big reveal. I loved the bits of British history woven into the plot as well as the windswept setting, and although I found Rachel herself a bit cold and offputting, I still enjoyed "The Puzzle of Blackstone Lodge" and will go back and read the first two in the series to fill in more of her backstory. 

Thank you to NetGalley and to Poisoned Pen Press for providing me with an ARC of this title in return for my honest review.
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The Puzzle of Blackstone Lodge by Martin Edwards is a captivating mystery novel that pays homage to the classic locked-room mysteries of Agatha Christie but with an added a Gothic twist. Set in the 1930s in Northern England, the novel weaves together a complex web of disappearances, murders, and supernatural elements that will keep readers on the edge of their seats.

The story revolves around Nell Fagan, an investigative journalist seeking a fresh start in her career. Drawn to Blackstone Fell's sanatorium, Nell becomes embroiled in a centuries-old mystery of disappearances from a locked gatehouse. Her quest for answers leads her to enlist the help of Rachel Savernake, a brilliant and enigmatic freelance detective.

Martin Edwards masterfully crafts the plot by intertwining two seemingly unrelated disappearances—one dating back to 1606 and another occurring in the early 20th century. As Nell and Rachel delve deeper into the mysteries of Blackstone Lodge, readers are introduced to a cast of intriguing characters, each with their own secrets and motives.

One of the standout features of this novel is the character of Rachel Savernake. Described as an "ice queen" with a penchant for ruthlessness, Rachel is a complex and compelling protagonist. Her sharp wit, intelligence, and determination make her a formidable detective, and readers will be eager to learn more about her as the story unfolds.

Edwards skilfully blends elements of the supernatural, including seances and mediums, into the narrative, adding an extra layer of intrigue. The subplot involving the challenge of proving the fraudulent nature of a renowned medium adds depth to the story and showcases the characters' various talents and flaws.

The novel's pacing is excellent, with tension steadily building as more disappearances and deaths occur. Edwards keeps readers guessing with clever plot twists and a fair play approach to mystery writing, and fans of golden age mysteries will appreciate the "clue finder" lists.

The Puzzle of Blackstone Lodge is a richly layered and engaging mystery novel that will captivate fans of classic whodunits and Gothic mysteries. It is a must-read for anyone seeking an Agatha Christie-inspired mystery with a modern twist.
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Thank you, Netgalley, for this ARC. The puzzle of Blackstone Lodge is a gothic mystery and gives off Agatha Christie (Hercule Poirot), and Sherlock Holmes vibes. I did like how the character, Rachel Savernake, solved the crimes and put all the pieces together. There are a lot a characters to remember and you are left wondering, why are these people mentioned in the book, but it all makes sense in the end.  This is an overall great book to read. My only critique is that it is kind of slow-paced for the first 40% of the book, after which it picks up and gets fast-paced. Overall, I would recommend this book to everyone.
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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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A deftly handled set of mysteries spawning more mysteries with a fun cast of characters. Looking forward to more!
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Nell Fagan is a reporter and a darn good one. Sadly, she lacks the social skills to stay employed. A big story will fix that and she’s on the trail of a blockbuster.

Hundreds of years ago, a man was seen entering a building. The door was locked behind him but when others went in, it was empty. There was only one door, so what happened? In more recent history, less than twenty years ago, the same thing happened. To find out how the men disappeared would be just the story to get Nell another job. In addition, there are other deaths that seem more convenient than natural. They occurred at a sanatorium, under the care of a doctor. The families weren’t shocked, in fact, might have been relieved. Yes, there are stories to be found at Blackstone Lodge.

To make sure she’s on the right track, Nell enlists the help of Rachel Savernake, or at least tries to intrigue Rachel. In that regard, her plan works. Rachel is intrigued but isn’t interested in partnering with Nell. An attempt on Nell’s life, followed by her disappearance, is enough for Rachel and her friends to take on the case, or cases, as it were.

The story is set in the 1930s Golden Age but the time period blended with the story so well, it wasn’t noticeable. There are a number of characters to keep track of—a clairvoyant and her deaf manservant, a widower, an abusive minister, a doctor whose main prescription is bed rest and a good night’s sleep, a friendly barmaid, and more. Sometimes the character is called by a first name, sometimes by the last name. There are mysteries within mysteries so pay close attention because the bodies are dropping fast.
This is book three in the series but the first one I’ve read. Rachel is a likable character, distant to some, secretive to most, and always willing to take a risk. She’s annoying to those who would want to know her better but not enough for them to walk away. She’s a fascinating woman at a time when it wasn’t fashionable to do so.

Take a trip to a small English village in the 30s and a mystery filled with twists and turns.
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This was my first time reading a Rachel Savernake novel and I liked it, but didn't love it.  I think the Rachel character was a bit disagreeable for me.  I actually liked Nell better but the focus shifted to Rachel after the first part of the book.  Overall the book kept up a good pace and was a quick read so I would recommend for readers who like mysteries.  Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing a copy of this book.
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If you are a fan of Agatha Christie’s books, then you’re going to enjoy this one!

The amateur sleuth, Rachel Savernake, in my opinion, is a cross between Miss Marple and Phryne Fisher. She sees through all the lies and deceit and has the uncanny ability to orchestrate situations to uncover the truth for those around her.

This book is set in the 1930s in England, and is such a good amateur sleuth novel. Now I just want another book starring Miss Savernake!
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This is the 3rd of a series

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.
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I am a fan of mysteries, and I thoroughly enjoyed this book very much. The gothic atmosphere added only added to the enigma. I was not able to guess the ending, and Rachel is relentless. She won't stop until she gets answers.
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This book reminds me of agatha christie's mystery novels or the game called clue. N e l l went up there to find out why people were dying in this lodge. There is a lot of history to this because there are so many different aspects of it and. People can be very nasty and very mean at the same time. Rachel went up there because she was a great puzzler. Don't report it when up there as well. He was trying to cover the story and trying to find out clues as well.. There was a place where they would put you in to hide the catholic priest, but this became a trap. It led to the river which was very strong on an overall falls. The mystery started in sixteen 03 when somebody got locked in there and never came out. This was a real who done it. I'm really trying to find out who was murdered. And why and it was a very interesting story.. Even the reverend had problems with this past and his marriage, and it was interesting. What happened to them?. Neil was also tart to be murdered. Because she was trying to solve the Murder mister herself. Rachel had an interesting pass as well. Because she was raised in a different environment altogether. I like the title of the book because it was a puzzle and everything fitting at the end
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This was a really fun Golden Age Mystery and I didn't even understand that if I were a puzzle freak, some of the clues that were there will be "well duh" to some readers.  Blackstone Lodge is in a village in Yorkshire that no one has heard of.  Among other things, it houses a well known, well regarded sanitarium for rich people with mental health issues.  Also a manor house, church, pub/inn, a tower, a gate house and more.  It is set near a river with some dangerous currents and tricks to it, near a cave with unstable roofing and near the moor where people disappear.  

Blackstone Lodge has an odd history to it.  Three hundred years ago, a man went in and never was seen again.  This happened again a few years back.  Nell Faban, a Fleet Street reporter who is presently without a gig decides to try to rent the lodge and sort out its mystery.  She goes incognito in order to win over the locals but her direct style and tendency to fabricate does not help her.  Ultimately, a cast of characters from London, Blackstone and each of its strange buildings and the past populate the book to create a very entertaining, well written, well plotted classic mystery that, as I said, has some clues in puzzle form.  Enjoy!
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This is the second book I have read from this series and I was impressed by how Martin Edward's has continued to build the readers' knowledge of the main characters including the lead protagonist, the enigmatic Rachel Savernake. In this story, we meet Nell Fagan, a journalist looking to restore her reputation and therefore desperate for a good story, who is investigating two separate disappearances from the mysterious Blackstone Lodge which occurred centuries apart.  The story is mainly set in Yorkshire with a terrifying landscape of marshes and deadly waters.  Nell's attempt to persuade Rachel and her friend Jacob Flint to assist her is initially unsuccessful, leading to deadly consequences.  The eventual solution is complex but very satisfying.  Martin Edwards plants clues that the reader can follow so they have a fair chance of finding the right solutions - a device that was popular in the golden age of crime when this story is set.  This is a must for fans of Agatha Christie, John Bude and other golden age authors.
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Reporter Nell Fagan isn’t exactly down on her luck, but a good scoop would definitely put her back in control of her career after a combination of her own indiscretions and the influence of wealthy recluse Rachel Savernake put her on the outs with the editors of Fleet Street. As such, she’s staying under an assumed identity in the rather grim Yorkshire town of Blackstone Fell, as she explains to her younger colleague Jacob Flint while on a short jaunt back home to London:

“So you’ve never traipsed around Blackstone Fell?”

“Am I missing much?”

She ticked items off on stubby fingers. “An abandoned cave dwelling, a dangerous stretch of river, a sinister tower, an asylum on the moors, and deadly marshland. Not to mention a history of mysterious vanishings from a Jacobean gatehouse.”

“Blimey, I’ll catch the next train. Remind me, where exactly is Blackstone Fell?”

“Ten miles from where the Brontës hung out. Makes Wuthering Heights look like Blackpool beach.”

She’s taken lodgings in that same gatehouse where, a decade prior as well as three hundred years before then, two men disappeared separately but in similarly mysterious circumstances. When her own life is threatened during the course of her investigations, she determines to invoke Rachel’s formidable brain once more. Never mind that their last interaction ended poorly: she’s sure that Rachel won’t be able to resist looking into the locked room vanishings. She only needs Jacob, whom she knows to be friendly with Rachel’s unconventional household, to put in a good word for her.

Jacob is reluctant to go to bat for a woman whose relationship with the truth is often slippery at best, but he does know that Rachel would be interested in the historical mystery. Besides, Nell is happy to sweeten the pot with a coveted invitation to an exclusive seance. Her ailing Aunt Eunice has a private audience with renowned medium Ottilie Curle, and Nell can get Jacob into the same room. Jacob’s editor at the <i>Clarion</i> is on a crusade against spiritualists and the like, deriding them as con artists. A scoop like this would very much help Jacob’s career. But as he witnesses the performance Ottilie gives, he can’t help but feel a twinge of misgiving:

Jacob hated the idea of giving an unscrupulous medium any credit whatsoever, but you didn’t have to be a True Believer to admire Ottilie Curle’s professionalism. She’d prepared thoroughly, and so far, her performance had left nothing to chance. Her methods reminded him of a line from a poem by Browning. <i>Less is more</i>. [...] A plain cook she might be, but despite her determination to eschew fancy garnishes and seasoning, Ottilie Curle served up an appetizing dish. How could he deny to the <i>Clarion</i>’s readers that Eunice Bell was getting her money’s worth? You only needed to look at the poor deluded woman’s eyes, unnaturally bright even in the gloom, to see that she was in a state of ecstasy.

With Nell holding up her end of the bargain, Jacob gets her an audience with Rachel, who asks only that Nell be completely honest with her. Nell, of course, has trouble doing exactly that. While Rachel swiftly dismisses the other woman, she can’t help but be intrigued by the facts Nell has imparted about Blackstone Fell, and soon enough arranges to travel north herself. But the historical murders aren’t the only deaths befalling those living in this lonely place. Will Rachel be able to figure out who’s behind the growing body count before she becomes the next victim?

There was a surprising amount of murder in this classic mystery set in the 1930s, bringing a definitely modern edge to this otherwise impeccable pastiche of the genre’s Golden Age. While this is the third installment of the Rachel Savernake series, it reads well as a standalone, and only whets the appetite for new readers to go back and enjoy the first two books in the series as well. I really appreciated too the inclusion of the Cluefinder at the end, where Martin Edwards points out the clues in the narrative that led to his clever conclusion. It’s a fun addition that helps readers see what they might have missed while otherwise enjoying this thrilling tale of suspense and seances in the early 1900s.
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Nell Fagan’s body is found crushed by a rock fall near Blackstone Fell. Is it an accident or a murder masquerading as an accident? Undoubtedly a case for Rachel Savernake—a reclusive, brilliant, eccentric, ultra-wealthy sleuth with a reputation for solving enigmatic puzzles. She and her three trusted companions rent a cottage in the village, on the pretext of studying local folklore, and they are all set to play their parts.

Nell, a disgraced investigative journalist, was looking into two unexplained disappearances from Blackstone Lodge—one in 1606 and one in 1914. She was also seeking information for a man, recently murdered, whose mother died a suspicious death in the sanatorium, owned by the wealthy Sambrook family. Why is Denzil Sambrook gradually buying up the village? How did the odious old Reverend Doyle attract the beautiful young Judith into marriage? Why did young Dr. Carrodus, whose diagnosis for every ailment known to man is ‘bed rest’, buy a practice in the middle of nowhere? And how does the disappearance of two men three hundred years apart and a famous medium fit into it all?

In the third Rachel Savernake Golden Age Mystery, it’s easy to soak up the atmospheric character of Blackstone Fell—an eerie village of shadows and secrets, surrounded by misty moors, marshland and bogs, underwater caverns, caves and unstable rock overhangs. Amongst a number of believably idiosyncratic characters, barmaid Dilys is a chatty charmer who fills in backstory as deftly as she draws pints.

This is a page-turning dark drama full of murder, secrecy, adultery and a compelling locked-room mystery. The novel has Sherlockian reminiscences in its lead character, and her enigmatic backstory is definitely worth investigating. The author’s note includes a ‘cluefinder’, a device used during the between-wars Golden Age of murder.
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Thank you NetGalley for the eArc copy of this book.

The moment I saw this book, I knew I needed to have it. I live for drama and suspense and this book was all for it.

I was nervous when I realised it was the third book, but glad it could be read as a standalone.

Loved it!
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I really wanted to love it. I just felt the characters were really one dimensional. I kept hoping the life would come into the book, but it never did.

Brilliant concept and I loved the plot but the characters really bought the whole thing down for me, 

2.5 stars
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The Puzzle of Blackstone Lodge is my first time reading a Rachel Savernake novel though I have read many other books from Martin Edwards in the past. The world of this book is 1930s England, with action essentially split between London and a small village of Blackstone Fell in Yorkshire. We are first introduced to Nell Fagan, a woman who is somewhat desperately trying to find a great story to get back in the good graces of a good London newspaper. She is on the trail of a hoped for story in that small village, looking into historic and modern disappearances as well as questions about a local sanatorium. When she realizes the extent of her possible case, she decides to consult Rachel Savernake and request assistance, but she makes a critical error: she isn’t fully honest as Rachel requires and is dismissed.

Nell returns to Yorkshire to continue her investigation alone, and with difficulty. Meanwhile Rachel enlists some associates to look into the matters that Nell had mentioned. She appears somewhat sorry at having dismissed her so summarily. While Rachel seems drawn as something of a cipher, Nell, Rachel’s friends and associates have more individuality and character, as do many of the suspects and secondary characters. The plot itself is complex but not overly so. It’s very much of the Golden Age in which it is set, where waiting for enlightenment is probably as good as guessing “who done it.” Believe me, everything is answered in the end.

Now I must read the earlier books in this series.

Recommended for mystery lovers, especially Golden Age and Agatha Christie.

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing a copy of this book. This review is my own.
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I love a good complex mystery, and The Puzzle of Blackstone Lodge is just that. Set in the 1930's this mystery has lots of clues to explore. The feel of the book was engrossing and gives a bit more of a thrill than a cozy. The locations and events were perfect for a locked room type mystery. While our main character Rachel is the lead, this is really a group effort in mystery solving. The story plot format was well done and I loved the way the ending reveal was presented. This is the third book in entertaining Rachel Savernake series.

Thank you NetGalley and the publisher for the advanced reader copy.  This is my honest review.
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