Friday, 11 February 2011
The Hanging Wood ~ Martin Edwards
Hannah's cold case unit is brought in to examine the disappearance twenty years earlier of fourteen year old Callum Hinds, when his sister, Orla, apparently commits suicide in the grain silo on their father's farm. At the time it was assumed that Callum had been killed by their uncle, who was found hanging shortly afterwards. However, no body has ever been found and conversations between Orla and Daniel shortly before her death raise the possibility that not only may Callum still be alive but also that there may be something suspicious about her own death.
But, (there is always a but in the best crime fiction) Orla and Callum are linked to a family grouping that is involved in bringing a great deal of wealth and business into the area. Even better, the family is offering to sponsor a local police project. Hannah is under strict instructions not to rock the boat with her investigation and to make sure that it is all wrapped up within the week. Fortunately (well, maybe not fortunately, but you get the picture) there is another death, after which no one can hide from the fact that there was something very wrong with the conclusions reached two decades earlier and that there is a very live investigation needed now.
As usual, it is through the careful deliberations of Daniel, the son of Hannah's ex-boss, who brings his academic historians mind to bear on the evidence, that Hannah is handed the key that solves the mystery. Working on a new book in the idyllic surroundings afforded by a residential library, Daniel has to hand the details of the family needed to shed light on what it was that Callum discovered twenty years earlier which meant he had to disappear. When the past is clear, the present falls into place.
I really enjoy Edwards Lake District books. While they may not have the same grittiness as those set in Liverpool, neither do they ever pretend that the Lake District is simply a chocolate box location. The farm that provides much of the setting for this book is clearly a place where those who live struggle for survival; it is also a place where there is constant potential for danger, either accidental or premeditated. In The Hanging Wood, this is set against the beauty of a residential library and yes, you read that correctly, a residential library. Given that anyone reading this is likely to be a book fanatic can you imagine anything more idyllic: a library where you can go and stay and not have to go home in the evening. I am still reeling with the joy of discovering that although the institution in Edwards' novel does not exist, it is based on a real place. I promise you, I am going to stay there at some point, just as long, that is, as there are no cold cases that need solving in the vicinity.
If you enjoy a good crime thriller along the lines of those written by Peter Robinson and Reginald Hill then I'm pretty sure you will enjoy Edwards. As usual, I'm going to say that I think you should go back to the beginning and read the series in order, but if you are already acquainted with these books then this one will not disappoint.