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VINE VOICETOP 500 REVIEWERon 4 December 2016
The title has been chosen for the name given to the tracks which were used to transport bodies from the remote village to one with a graveyard. The symbolism of bodies being strapped to the horses for their final journey is one that resonates throughout this book.

As the book opens we meet Daniel Heard and his girlfriend Miranda buying Tarn Cottage in the fictional village of Brackdale on a whim while visiting the area for a short break. Daniel has tired in his role at Oxford University but it is Miranda who is the driving force behind the move, after all as a freelance journalist she can submit her copy from anywhere. Daniel has visited the area before, the last holiday before his policeman father left home to be with another woman and while there he met, and became friends with, Barrie Gilpin who lived in Tarn Cottage. The cottage is being sold for a song because Barrie Gilpin was widely suspected by police and villagers alike to have murdered a young woman. He died of an accident before the murder was discovered and his poor mother was shunned by the locals.

Meanwhile DI Hannah Scarlett is wondering if she can get her career back on track after a disastrous collapse of a trial compounded by even more disastrous public relations. She finds herself leading a new team set up to examine whether advances in forensics can solve any of the old cases. With a retired detective to assist and her trusty partner they begin leafing through the old files.

As Daniel probes the villager’s memories about Barrie, treating this personal quest he begins to ruffle a few feathers to say the least and Miranda is none too pleased. With some loose ends to tie up about his father, who died without Daniel ever making peace, who was on the original investigation the claustrophobic nature of life in a remote village becomes ever more apparent.

I enjoyed The Coffin Trail which was first published in 2004 for being a ‘real’ police procedural series. There were no clever tricks but straightforward investigations by both Daniel and Hannah Scarlet into what happened to the young woman who was laid out on Sacrifice Stone, it can’t be accidental that this was the place for pagan rituals. There are lots of characters within this book and of course being the first in the series, more time is spent giving these a background to be built on later, this gave the first section of the book quite a slow feel, but with solid writing and the fabulous scenery that Martin Edwards captures, keeping me entertained, I certainly didn’t have a chance to become bored.

Once the investigation gets underway it appears that the crux of the matter is going to be examining those old alibis rather than the more straightforward DNA results that DI Hannah Scarlett’s bosses were hoping for. And we all know what that means, yes my favourite, old secrets and lies will be exposed! There is no doubt at all that plenty of skeletons, of the kind that hide in cupboards, are rattled. As secret after secret is revealed the inhabitants of Brackdale will most likely never be the same again.

After really enjoying the characters of historian Daniel Head and the fairly level-headed and yet not to be pushed around, DI Hannah Scarlett I am now looking forward to reading the second in this series, The Cipher Garden
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on 21 April 2016
Having read The Coffin Trail and liking the slower pace than most crime novels tend to have, I was hoping for more of the same with this book. I wasn't disappointed, it was even better than the previous one, allowing the layers of mystery to peel back like an onion to reveal what was underneath. I found myself drawn into the lives of the characters in such a way that I felt I knew them personally.

I look forward to getting to know them all better in subsequent books.
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on 9 July 2015
Dull, plodding book with two-dimensional characters and a couple of flimsy mysteries. The question of the cypher garden is settled in about 4 pages, and then completely forgotten. The murder mystery itself, when it finally gets resolved, is pedestrian. The two investigators spend forever playing the "will they, won't they" dance, while bemoaning their respective partners. Most of the book is taken up with this wishy-washy half-romance. If you want to read a romance novel, I'm sure there's better out there. If you want to read a detective novel, there's definitely better out there. Finally, for a book set in some of the most magnificent scenery in the UK, there's almost no description of that scenery- that would at least have lightened some of the tedium.
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on 14 April 2017
The background to the main characters took half the book to establish. The final 'reveal' came in the last few pages. It felt very unbalanced to me. A good story but I was constantly thinking 'get on with it'. I shall try the next book as I do like the Lakes and think I should give the author a bit more of a chance! I read it initially because it was recommended by Anne Cleeves and her books are excellent.
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on 6 February 2013
Set in an imaginary Lakeland valley this is a novel about the past coming back to haunt the present.

Daniel Kind an Oxford don leaves his career in the dreaming spires to set up a new life with his new partner Miranda who is on the rebound from a failed relationship with a married man. They purchase an old house in the valley of Brackdale where he once spent a childhood holiday. Not only did he holiday there but he made friends with the young boy who lived in the house which he has now purchased. This was his last family holiday because soon after it his father(Ben) walked out on the family leaving his mother to rear Daniel and his sister. All contact was ended between him and the father and now Ben is dead.

Daniel's holiday playmate (Barrie) went on to become the killer (it seemed) of a glamorous young woman (Gabrielle)who was visiting Brackdale. She was found brutally murdered on the hillside on an ancient hilltop sacrifice stone. Daniel's father, Ben Kind had been the police investigating officer in charge of this original murder investigation. The late Ben Kind's deputy on this murder investigation was Hannah Scarlett and she is now back in Lakeland in charge of a new 'cold-case team'. Needless to say - she is quickly drawn into the re-investigation of the murder of Gabrielle seven years ago.

Phew! That's the back story and establishing all of this and many more complicated and overlapping relationships takes up much of the book. The unravelling of the mystery and the unmasking of the real killer of Gabrielle happens in the final 20% of the story.

The setting is certainly atmospheric and this very detailed backstory is interesting. Not a book to give a boost to the Lakeland's tourism industry, it portrays Brackdale as a sinister place inhabited by odd, unpleasant and downright dangerous types. Not the 'escape to the country' originally envisaged by Daniel and Miranda. There is a nice twist at the end of the story but it comes as a sharp change of gear compared to all that went before. This is a story I found interesting and keen to read through to the end but not in 'page-turner' sort of way.
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on 22 October 2013
I was looking forward to a similar book to the Lewes and Shetland Series of books by Cleeves and May. You know, an interesting murder mystery in a wild and gorgeous setting. I was disappointed. The first book in the series showed promise, but this second book has little sense of place with rather mechanical descriptions. The characters didn't really develop and I never got that feeling of being an observer in the middle of the action. This was because there was never that feeling of authenticity. In good books you get something more than just accurate descriptions. In this book such feelings were notably absent.
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on 15 August 2017
The 2nd I have read in this series- the plot twists & turns throughout to keep you guessing right up to the end with a backdrop of a stunning Lakeland setting this is a well crafted book. I like the subtle, continuous developing relationship between the main characters of the historian Daniel & the detective Hannah which very cleverly makes you reach for the next book. Would make a good TV series.
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on 17 March 2013
Oh now I did enjoy this! It is the first in a series of murder mysteries set in the Lake District by Martin Edwards. The characters are interesting, the setting well described giving the reader a terrific sense of place and the story wizzes along, never lagging so you feel the need to page skim with a surprising conclusion which makes you want to rush out and buy book two, The Cypher Garden to see what the characters are up to next! I would highly recommend this if you enjoy mysteries without too much violence, just enough to provoke a murder and if you have ever been to the Lakes you will feel as if you are revisiting within the pages of this novel, excellent!!
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on 22 August 2015
Exceptionally well written. After reading 2 of this series of books and correctly identifying the murderer early on in both stories, I give this a 4 star rating. However, this may be due to having read hundreds of crime novels over the years including all Agatha Christie's books from being a teenager. I see patterns in his writings. (May be because I too was born in Cheshire and was a solicitor!) Highly recommend the series, nevertheless.
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on 29 September 2011
I was disappointed in this book. After a short preface describing the discovery of a woman's body, the early chapters, set several years later, are largely about the main characters' relationships with each other. It is only about halfway through the book that we return to the murder, and the police's renewed attempts to find the killer. Even now the pace moves rather slowly with again a lot about relationships. More characters are introduced who all seem to be cousins and/or ex-lovers of each other and we learn about their sex lives as well.

The last few chapters contain more drama and focus on the crime. The circumstances leading up to the murder, however, are rather implausible.
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