Saturday, September 17, 2011
The Coffin Trail
The Coffin Trail (2004), by Martin Edwards, has all of these attributes and more. From page one, Miss Lemon found herself utterly immersed in this modern-day whodunit featuring DCI Hannah Scarlett and an Oxford historian who's drawn to the Lake District village of Brackdale by shades from his past.
Ostensibly writing an article for a popular history magazine on the old coffin trails used by the villagers before Brackdale got a proper churchyard, Daniel Kind unearths more than just mouldering newspapers from the archives. He begins asking questions that stir up old resentments and make him the prime mover in a cold-case investigation into the murder of a young woman whose body was left on the so-called sacrifice stone.
The villagers dropped blame for the murder squarely at the door of Barrie Gilpin, a maladjusted lad suffering from autism whose own body was found on the rocks not far from the sacrifice stone. Blood from the victim was found on his person.
Daniel -- and others in the village, too, including DCI Scarlett -- begin to wonder if perhaps it wasn't convenience's sake that buried the investigation with Barrie.
In keeping with the best mystery writers, Edwards endows each of his characters with motive, opportunity and skeletons in the closet aplenty. What most interested Miss Lemon were the dramatizations of the relationships between Hannah and her partner, Marc Amos, a bookseller; Daniel Kind and his girlfriend, Miranda; and the well-heeled Dumelows. Edwards portrays the calm seas and squalls all couples endure with a deft hand.
You'll find quite a bit of realism in this neatly turned out crime novel -- topped with suspense and surprise, too.