Daniel Kind and his girlfriend Miranda take a holiday in England’s Lake District, in a place where Daniel had spent a holiday as a child, and impulsively decide to buy a house and move there. At the same time DCI Hannah Scarlett is appointed head of a new cold case unit for the area and one of the cases the team looks at is the decade-old murder of a young woman who was, at the time, thought to have been killed by an autistic young man who died before he could be charged with the crime. Daniel has a dual interest in the case, having known the young man when they were both young boys and also because his father was in charge of the original investigation.
I grabbed this book from Mt TBR as I left the house for a walk yesterday (because I always reward myself for walking with a coffee and some reading time and the other book I am reading now was too darned heavy to carry). Starting a new book while away from the house is always risky (what if it’s no good and I don’t have a backup book?) but I needn’t have feared. I was immediately drawn into the story so one coffee turned into two and then a third as I struggled to find a place I could stand to stop so I could walk home. The series of converging events at the beginning of the book that drew me into the story so completely is really a superb piece of craftsmanship. When I finally stopped reading it was a bit of a jolt to find myself in Adelaide on a hot summer afternoon with a slightly cranky waitress asking me if I wanted another coffee as I really had been swept off to the Lake District, having conjured up rich images of the physical surrounds depicted in the book as well as of the village’s suspects inhabitants.
The two main characters were likable but not perfectly so which is just what you want in your crime fighters really. I thought the way Daniel wanted to know more about the father who had left the family many years before was handled well as was his internal struggles with other events in his past. These made his amateur involvement in the investigation very believable. I liked the way Hannah made the best of what could have been a bad situation when she was assigned to head up the cold case unit and I will enjoy seeing more of her in future books. The suspect pool also contained some well-drawn characters and I was well and truly blaming an entirely different villager than the person who turned out to be the evil-doer.
The English police procedural is a very crowded space which makes it all the more remarkable that Martin Edwards has produced a new and interesting slant on the sub genre. He’s done so with a combination of intriguing characters, solid plot and a thoroughly captivating small village setting. The Coffin Trail is the 11th book I’ve read so far this year by a new-to-me author and is yet another of that group that has proven so good I’m already scouring the planet for the rest of this author’s back catalogue.
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
My rating 4/5
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press ; ISBN: 1-59058-208-X; Length: 286 pages; Setting: England, present-day
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
The Coffin Trail has been reviewed at Euro Crime.
Martin Edwards blogs about writing, crime fiction and his mostly book-y related adventures from Do You Write Under Your Own Name?
There are three more books in the Lake District series including The Serpent Pool which has just been published this month plus 8 books in a different series featuring solicitor Harry Devlin and I’m clearly going to have to read all of those if for no other reason than all the titles in the series seem to be pop song titles and I’m a sucker for a book that somehow evokes a great song.