The Frozen Shroud
The Frozen Shroud has just been published in paperback by Allison & Busby, a pleasing boost to morale as I work on its successor, which will be the seventh Lake District Mystery. The story s is a contemporary whodunit set in a remote part of the Lake District, a small community on the east side of Ullswater called Ravenbank. A hundred years ago, a horrific murder was committed there on Hallowe’en, and ninety five years later, a woman was killed, again on Hallowe’en, in a crime that had strange similarities to the earlier tragedy. Everyone thought the murderer was dead – but now, again on Hallowe’en, a third woman becomes a murder victim. DCI Hannah Scarlett, of the Cold Case Review Team, is personally enmeshed in the latest tragedy, and the killing of someone close to her means she has more than one reason to solve the puzzle of the Frozen Shroud…
In writing The Frozen Shroud, I made one or two adjustments from my previous approach. One of the reasons for this is that I’m very keen to keep the series fresh and interesting, rather than just repeating a formula. Of coure, the Lakeland setting is a given, and so are the main characters, Hannah and her friend, the historian Daniel Kind. There’s also an ongoing will-they-won’t-they? frisson about their relationship. To some extent, there’s a resemblance between a series of crime novels and a soap opera, but I tend to think that one of the joys of a series of novels is the opportunity to discover fresh (and credible) aspects to both the characters and the setting. This is an opportunity that I set out to grasp with The Frozen Shroud.
One of the adjustments in my approach to this particular book was to reduce – a little – the focus on whodunit, and to emphasise the characters, and the wonderful setting – I’m really fond of Ullswater, and had a great time exploring Hallin Fell, Howtown and Martindale as part of my research. I therefore wanted to keep a close eye on the reaction of readers – had I got the balance right? So far, I’ve been pleased to find that readers have still struggled to figure out the whodunit aspect of the story, as it still matters a good deal to me to create a mystery that people find tantalising, and which keeps them reading enthusiastically to the end.
The reaction from reviewers has also proved to be very gratifying. On my website, there is a whole collection of reviews – I felt lucky to receive so many – but here are four which gave me especial pleasure, given the publications in which they appeared:
“Martin Edwards…makes all the characters real, credible, and in the cases of the heroine, DCI Hannah Scarlett…and the slightly less heroic local historian Daniel Kind, highly sympathetic…Writing with scrupulous exactness, but sparing his readers too many disgusting details, he supplies fair clues, an agreeable setting, and a good, gripping, credible tale, which I highly recommend.”
Jessica Mann, Literary Review
“Edwards draws on his knowledge of criminal research to interweave a hundred-year-old tale of a jilted wife allegedly killing her husband’s lover—and the legend of the victim’s faceless ghost—with a five-year-old cold case involving a similar murder of the young lover of a wealthy widower. Daniel Kind is in Ravenbank researching the original case when, following a Halloween dance, a third victim is discovered. DCI Scarlett arrives to investigate and the tension between detective and history professor rekindles. In addition to clever plotting and an evocative atmosphere, Edwards has given us a pair of characters whose mutual attraction and repulsion make a perfect recipe for tension.”
Steve Steinbock, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine
‘If you like your whodunits with a small list of possible suspects and motives à la Dame Agatha; more than one murder investigation happening at the same time à la Peter Robinson; and important links to the past à la the late Reginald Hill, you’ll love this book… I can highly recommend it.’
Joseph Scarpato Jr, Mystery Scene
‘Layered, atmospheric…creepy premise.’