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The Coffin Trail    by Martin Edwards order for
Coffin Trail
by Martin Edwards
Order:  USA  Can
Poisoned Pen, 2004 (2004)
* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

The Coffin Trail. Conjures up images of coffins being carried through rough countryside inaccessable to normal conveyances to be interred in unfamiliar earth, doesn't it? No? It did to me. And guess what? I was right! The story takes place in the lake country of England. Many years ago, the deceased were hauled in their coffins on the back of a donkey to the cemetary in the next village. No longer necessary today, the coffin trail plays host to thousands of daytrippers roaming the countryside.

In a spur of the moment decision, Daniel Kind and his significant other Miranda buy Tarn Cottage just outside the village of Brackdale. Daniel knows it was the home of a man accused of murder, who subsequently died running away from the scene of the crime. Scene set. Was this man, Barrie Gilpin, a murderer? Known as a quiet peaceful man who suffered from a form of autism, was he capable of murder and mutilation of the victim? Daniel knew him as a child and cannot believe he was. The plot picks up even more speed here.

Moving quickly from one finely-drawn character to the next, the story introduces the reader to the Lake District of Beatrix Potter renown. The quiet village of Brackdale hides many secrets behind its cottage doors. Daniel Kind's father investigated the murder years previously. Daniel didn't know his father after the age of twelve, but his father's DCI, Hannah Scarlett, remembers the case well and is working on a cold case review of it. She also remembers Daniel's father as a good man who left his family for another woman.

The ending tends to be a bit convoluted, but hang in there. It all comes clear in a satisfying conclusion. The Coffin Trail opens a new series for Edwards and I look forward to reading his next novel featuring Daniel and Hannah.

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