The Dark Mirror, by Barry Maitland

“No, well, anyone else probably wouldn’t have noticed, because this is so unusual now, in this country – the first case I’ve come across, to tell the truth. But I remember the smell so well from my student days, in India. We opened up a number of victims – well, the stuff was readily available, you see, in herbicide and pesticides and industrial processes and God knows what…’
Kathy waited but he seemed momentarily at a loss. ‘What are we talking about, Sundeep?’ she asked gently.
‘Arsenic, Kathy. I’m almost sure that she died of arsenic poisoning.’

When graduate student Marion Summers collapses and dies, the cause is not immediately apparent. But when the autopsy reveals arsenic poison, DI Kathy Kolla is sent to investigate. Is this a dramatic suicide, or has someone murdered the mysterious Ms Summers?

Marion’s research into the life of artist Dante Gabriel Rosetti seems an unlikely part of the murder mystery, but given both the issue of arsenic poisoning amongst his associates, and Marion’s obsession with the issue, Kathy becomes increasingly sure there is a link. But as she and DCI Brock get closer to uncovering the truth, there is a second poisoning – this time one of Marion’s student friends – and it appears there is a serial killer on the loose.

Dark Mirror is the tenth installment in the much-lauded Brock and Kolla series from crime writer Barry Maitland. Using characters with whom fans of the series will be familiar, as well as plenty of new faces, there is no disadvantage for those who have not read the earlier stories but a nice sense of the familiar for those who have. The mystery itself is fast paced, with lots of suspects, clues and red herrings, and action which keeps the pages turning.

A gripping, satisfying mystery.

The Dark Mirror, by Barry Maitland
Allen & Unwin, 2009