Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Frozen Shroud: Review

DK: He was dying, and it mattered little to him whether the story came out in five years or fifty. He settled for leaving it to be dug up by a researcher who shared his academic interests and had the time and inclination to wade through his journals.
HS: It's taken a long time.
DK: Unravelling secrets of history often does.
~Daniel Kind, Hannah Scarlett (p. 257)

The Frozen Shroud is the sixth book in Martin Edwards' Lake District mystery series.  And it's good enough to me wonder what I was doing with myself when the other five came out.  Fortunately, although it might have been useful to have the back story on our leading characters--Daniel Kind and DCI Hannah Scarlett--it's not absolutely necessary to have read the previous five to enjoy this entry.

This time out, we're taken to Ravenbank, a secluded community in England's Lake District. Ravenbank, originally called Satan's Head, has been home to murder twice on Halloween.  Just before World War I, a young, beautiful housemaid said to have been involved with the master of Ravenbank Hall was found dead with her face battered and a cloth shroud frozen to her wounds.  Locals talk of her ghost, known as the Faceless Woman, walking restlessly through Ravenbank on the night of her death...searching for justice.  Just five years ago, another beautiful young woman, Shenagh Moss, was beaten to death and left with a cloth covering her injuries.  Her death was blamed on a jealous ex-lover who conveniently died before he can be questioned.

Daniel Kind and his sister Louise are invited to a Halloween party by the current owner of Ravenbank.  Kind is a former television celebrity and a specialist in the history murder.  He is told the story of the Faceless Woman and about the more recent murder and becomes interested--wondering whether the most obvious suspects, the unbalanced wife of the lord of the manor in the original and the jealous ex-lover in the most recent case, were truly to blame.  But on the night of the Halloween party a third beautiful young woman dies--once again beaten and shrouded--and this one falls close to home.  

The victim, Terri Poynton, was the best friend of DCI Hannah Scarlett, a police officer who has crossed Daniel's path on several occasions.  Although not officially allowed on the case because of her connections to the victim, Hannah and Daniel manage to follow up clues that will lead to the resolution of not one murder....but three.

This is a well-plotted mystery with lots of red herrings and plenty of suspects.  I've got to give Edwards credit--he had me changing my mind about the culprit with nearly every turn of the page.  I should have stuck with my first thought....but that my own fault.  The descriptions of the Lake District are lovely and I thoroughly enjoyed the interactions of all the characters.  I look forward to turning to the beginning of the the series and seeing how the relationship between Daniel and Hannah has come about.  In this novel they are just figuring out that what their friends have been saying to them just might be true--they're suited for each other.  But I can tell there's a lot of water under those bridges and I want to find out where it came from.  An excellent entry in what seems to be a very fine series.  Four stars.

1 comment:

Bernadette said...

Somehow I missed that this 6th in Martin Edwards' series was out - thanks for the tip