Allison and Busby, January, 2006
Reviewed by Sunnie Gill
Daniel Kind is an academic living and working in Oxford. He is also the
son of a police detective, now deceased. Daniel is driving through
Englandís Lake District with his new girlfriend when he comes upon a
picturesque village which stirs memories of a happy family holiday when he
was ten years old. It was the last holiday before his father walked out on
the family for another woman.
Acting on impulse, Daniel buys a house in the district, thinking that a
change to a quieter life is just what he needs. A quiet life is the
opposite of what he gets. The house was the home of a friend from that
long-ago holiday, a boy named Barrie. Daniel discovers that Barrie was
chief suspect in the brutal murder of a young woman several years earlier.
Before the investigation was fully under way, Barrie died in an apparent
accident, and the case was abruptly closed. Coincidentally, it was
Danielís father who led the investigation.
Daniel is an historian, so when his memories of Barrie donít tally with
him being a violent killer, his instincts tell him there is more to the
story that needs to be told. When Daniel learns that his fatherís former
assistant, Hannah Scarlett, is now heading up a newly-formed Cold Case
Squad, he approaches her to re-open the case.
Daniel begins to ask questions which are met with opposition and hostility
from some quarters. Why is his interest in the past upsetting so many? Is
it that they simply donít want their peaceful existence upset or is there
something more sinister to hide? The more Daniel questions the past, the
more secrets begin to emerge; secrets which throw new light on the murder
and raise doubts about Barrieís guilt.
Cold case mysteries seem to be enjoying immense popularity at the moment
and with books like THE COFFIN TRAIL it's easy to see why. THE COFFIN
TRAIL is populated by a cast of interesting and diverse characters. The
location is suitably atmospheric and the portrayal of a small community
rings true. Edwards has also managed to pull off what I think is one of
the most difficult things in crime fiction. He has managed to seamlessly
inject some historical information without slowing down the plot or taking
the reader out of the story. He also plays fair with the reader. If you
piece together the relationships and connections in the right order, you
can work out "whodunit".
Martin Edwards has written a number of crime novels. THE COFFIN TRAIL is
his ninth and is the first in the Lake District series, of which there are
three to date (THE COFFIN TRAIL, THE CIPHER GARDEN and THE ARSENIC
LABYRINTH). He is also the author of seven Harry Devlin novels. THE COFFIN
TRAIL contains the all the elements to set-up the series. There is a lot
of potential for the relationship between Hannah and Daniel. What
direction that relationship takes remains to be seen. There is also scope
for collaboration between a cold case investigator and an historian.
Danielís occupation allows the author to offer a little of Britainís
history as well. In fact, the title of the book is itself a part of
history. THE COFFIN TRAIL refers to ancient tracks used by people to
transport the dead to the nearest place of burial.
Martin Edwards was born in Cheshire and educated at Oxford. He is a
qualified solicitor. Martin Edwardsí website is
February 2007 review originally published on Murder & Mayhem
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