Full of Books

The Coffin Trail by Martin Edwards Review

Title: The Coffin Trail

Author: Martin Edwards

First published January 1, 2004

286 pages, Hardcover

ISBN: 9781590581292 (ISBN10: 1590581296)

Rating: 3.67


Daniel Kind, an Oxford historian, and his partner Miranda are desperate for a fresh start. They impulsively purchase a charming cottage in Brackdale, a serene valley in the Lake District.

However, their idyllic life is short-lived as the past catches up to them. The cottage they purchased was once the home of Barrie Gilpin, who was suspected of a brutal murder.

The victim was found on the Sacrifice Stone, an ancient pagan site located on a nearby fell. Although Barrie passed away before he could be arrested, Daniel has deep-rooted reasons for believing in his innocence.

As the police initiate a cold case review, the skeletons of Brackdale’s past begin to resurface, and the lives of Daniel and DCI Hannah Scarlett become inexplicably entwined. Daniel and Hannah soon discover that they are risking their lives while searching for a ruthless killer who will stop at nothing to conceal a shocking secret.

About the Author

Meet Martin Edwards, a renowned author and consultant to the British Library’s Crime Classics series. He has written sixteen contemporary whodunits, including The Coffin Trail, which was a finalist for the Theakston’s Prize for best crime novel of the year.

He is known for his genre study The Golden Age of Murder, which has won multiple awards, including the Edgar, Agatha, H.R.F. Keating, and Macavity awards. His book The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books has also been nominated for several awards in both the UK and the US.

With 38 anthology editor credits to his name, he has won the CWA Short Story Dagger and the CWA Margery Allingham Prize, and been a finalist for an Anthony, the CWA Dagger in the Library, the CWA John Creasey Memorial Dagger, and a CWA Gold Dagger. Martin is also the President of the Detection Club and Chair of the Crime Writers’ Association, as well as the Archivist of both organizations.

He has received the Red Herring award for services to the CWA, and the Poirot award for his exceptional contributions to the crime genre. His latest novel, Gallows Court, was published in September and is a must-read for any mystery lover.

Editoral Review

In the world of mystery thrillers, Martin Edwards’ “The Coffin Trail” stands out as a remarkable piece of storytelling that is sure to keep readers on the edge of their seats. Published on January 1, 2004, “The Coffin Trail” is the first book in Edwards’ Lake District Mysteries series.

Widely regarded as a master of the genre, Martin Edwards has created a compelling tale of mystery and intrigue that combines the traditional whodunit with stunning descriptions of the wild and mountainous landscapes of the Lake District. Set in the remote and picturesque English countryside, “The Coffin Trail” follows attorney Daniel Kind as he returns to his childhood home of Brackdale to escape from the stresses of his city life.

However, Daniel’s attempts at a peaceful retreat are shattered when he stumbles upon a corpse while walking in the hills. From there, the plot takes off at a breakneck pace, drawing the reader into a complex and intricate web of deceit and betrayal as Daniel and his old flame, DCI Hannah Scarlett, try to unravel the mystery of the dead man’s identity and the secrets that led to his untimely demise.

Edwards’ writing style is unapologetically old-school, evoking the spirit of classic British mystery fiction in its attention to detail and precision of language. The descriptions of the Lake District are particularly vivid and atmospheric, transporting the reader to the misty peaks and rugged valleys of the region.

The characters are sharply drawn, with Daniel and Hannah standing out as particularly well-realized and complex individuals. The pacing of the book is excellent, with Edwards carefully weaving together the various threads of the plot to create a satisfying and intense narrative.

Despite its traditionalist trappings, however, “The Coffin Trail” is far from a simple and predictable mystery yarn. Edwards plays with the conventions of the genre, subverting expectations and creating unforeseen twists and turns that keep the reader guessing until the very end.

The themes of the book the tensions between urban and rural life, the weight of history and tradition, the fragility of trust and the corrosive effects of secrecy are explored with sensitivity and thoughtfulness, giving the novel an emotional resonance that goes beyond mere entertainment. On the downside, there are a few moments where the pacing drags somewhat, particularly in the middle section of the book.

Some readers may also find Edwards’ prose style a little too mannered and formal, although this is a matter of personal taste. Additionally, the complexity of the plot and the large cast of characters may be somewhat daunting for some readers, although the payoff is undoubtedly worth the effort.

Overall, “The Coffin Trail” is a superb mystery thriller that showcases Martin Edwards’ talents as a writer and storyteller. Both evocative and engaging, this novel is a must-read for fans of classic British mystery fiction, as well as anyone looking for a gripping and thought-provoking tale of suspense.

The book gets a rating of 4.5 out of 5 from the Washington Post, and it is a fitting tribute to a writer who has truly mastered the genre. Highly recommended.