Hallowe’en, 100 Years Ago: A young housemaid was brutally murdered, her face battered and then covered by a shroud. Due to the low temperatures, the shroud was frozen to the remains of her face. The brutal crime gave birth to the legend of the Faceless Woman, the ghost that haunts the village. The killer committed suicide but the legend remains…
Hallowe’en, 5 years ago: A young woman in the same community is murdered in exactly the same way. Her killer too escapes justice, crashing his car while fleeing the scene.
Daniel Kind, local historian, researches the cases with their strange parallels and begins to have his doubts about the guilt of both of the assumed killers. But before he and DCI Hannah Scarlett can find the truth, history is going to repeat itself.
This is one of those books that’s been sitting on my shelf, waiting for the right time. I’m running out of Martin’s books to read – just one more Harry Devlin to go from his two series now for me, although I think there’s another Lake District outing on the way. But I figured the best way to tackle the ten books that I’ve committed to reading for this month’s readathon was to select my favourite authors and long-time readers of the blog know that Martin’s certainly on that list.
This is the sixth of the Lake District Mysteries. They feature historian Daniel Kind, who has a fascination with old murder cases and DCI Hannah Scarlett, head of the local cold case division. There’s an ongoing will-they-won’t-they plot regarding the two leads (although that is overly-simplifying the personal side of the stories) and the mystery plots are tightly plotted, weaving together the past and present.
Here, there’s the clever idea of a crime in the distant past that can’t really be related to the present one (or can it?) and the more recent crime that could be related to the present crime (which, as it occurs midway through the book, I’m not going to say much) but might not be. Martin does a good job of keeping the circle of suspects small as well with suspicion moving from character to character, each of them well-developed individuals.
Long-term readers of the series will be interested in the ongoing plot regarding the lives of the leads. Well, I’m not going to spoil any developments, but there are significant developments, in particular in the life of Hannah Scarlett. The notion at the end of the previous book where she started fancying a seemingly unpleasant character, which didn’t work for me at the time, is presented in a way that made a lot more sense to me, and it did amuse me that every character seems to be channelling the voice of the readers of the series by asking Hannah why she doesn’t get together with Daniel. Really, it’s virtually everyone – friends, suspects, even the murder victim from beyond the grave at one point (well, it comes out she had brought it up in conversation before she was killed). You get the feeling that Martin was making a point…
I did spot the murderer, and probably because I’ve read too many crime books (is there such a thing) I was sure of the killer long before they were revealed, but that didn’t hinder my enjoyment of the book in the slightest. Definitely a series that benefits more by being read in order – that shouldn’t be an issue as they’re all great reads – but this is a great read by itself as well and is Highly Recommended.
The rest of the series consists of:
- The Coffin Trail – read pre-blog hence no review
- The Cipher Garden
- The Arsenic Labyrinth
- The Serpent Pool
- The Hanging Wood
This review is Book 2 of my attempt at Readathon UK for the school where I work – ten books between 6th Feb and 5th March. If you want to make a donation to the children’s charities that they support, then please visit their Just Giving page.