This review is of the book "The Coffin Trail" by Martin Edwards. The book is the first in the author's series of Lake District detective thrillers, following his success in Liverpool detective novels in the 1990s.
The basic plot of the book is that an historian from Oxford, Daniel Kind, and his wife move away to the Lakes after buying a rural cottage which is in desperate need of repair. Unfortunately crime soon catches up with them as an old occupant of the house and childhood friend of Daniel has a questionable past following a murder he was alleged to have commited.
A girl had died many years before, and a man called Barrie Gilpin was one of those the police and locals thought at the time might have been guilty. But was he involved, or was it just easy to pin the blame on him? In a rather stretched link, Daniel Kind's family were involved in the original investigation, so the murder comes back to haunt Daniel and his wife.
The effective DCI Hannah Scarlett is the detective who is sent to investigate the matter working for the cold case police team. She then finds that the trail is deeper than she had at first suspected and that many of the individuals have links which she didn't obviously expect.
I won't give too much of the plot away, but this is a superb book in my mind in terms of the development of the characters, and especially how well the locations and area are described. The Lake District is one of my favourite areas of the country, and it was almost like being back in the area when reading this book!
If I had to make a complaint about the book, I'd suggest that the plot is a little far fetched in places, and is less engaging than some other books in this genre that I've read. However, as I noted on a previous review on another book, I kept turning the pages when reading this book wanting to know what the end result was, so the author couldn't have gone far wrong!
The author Martin Edwards has written a large number of books and short stories, and does this whilst being employed as a solicitor as his day job. From 1991 to 1999 (with one extra book in 2008) he wrote about Harry Devlin, a detective series based in Liverpool. The Coffin Trail is the first of four books in the Lake District series, the following three to this title being, "The Cipher Garden", "The Arsenic Labyrinth" and "The Serpent Pool" which is being published in 2010.
The book is still in print and was published by Allison and Busby in 2005. The book retails for 7.99 pounds but at the time of writing, is being sold by Amazon for 5.89 pounds. If you're happy with a second hand copy, then these are available for around four to five pounds at the moment from sites such as eBay and Amazon.
In summary, this is an excellent book from a very experienced author. The character development and plot lines are well thought through and realistic, and the book is a real page turner. It is no surprise that this book was short-listed for the Theakston's award for best crime novel in 2006, and it would have been a worthy winner. I may have an ever growing list of books that I need to read, but his later books in the Lake District series are definitely now on that list!