The Frozen Shroud by Martin Edwards

SHROUD
The Frozen Shroud by Martin Edwards
A Lake District Mystery
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery, Holiday
Length: Full Length (276 Pages)
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Foxglove

Death has come twice to Ravenbank, a remote community in England’s Lake District, each time on Hallowe’en. Just before the First World War, a young woman’s corpse was found, with a makeshift shroud frozen to her battered face. Her ghost – the Faceless Woman – is said to walk through Ravenbank on Hallowe-en. Five years ago, another woman, Katya Moss, was murdered, and again her face was covered to hide her injuries.

Daniel Kind, a specialist in the history of murder, becomes fascinated by the old cases, and wonders whether the obvious suspects really did commit the crimes. He spends Hallowe’en at a party in Ravenbank – only to find death returning to this beautiful but isolated spot. Once more, the victim is a woman, once more her damaged face is shrouded from view.

It is said that Ravenbank is haunted. Haunted by the ghost of a young woman murdered mysteriously just before the start of the First World War. For decades, it was believed she was murdered by the lady of the house, when she discovered that the young woman had dallied with the lady’s husband. When the Lady of the House died by her own hand the day after the murder of Gertrude Smith, it was always believed that as an admission of guilt, and the case was closed.

When the new owner of Ravenbank and his lady took ownership, Shenagh Moss and Francis Palladino settled right in, and enjoyed their romance. It was whispered that, every Halloween, the ghost walked the property, and, after decades of sightings, Shenagh is still nervous on that day. When Francis goes searching for her, he finds her dead, murdered, in the same exact spot Gertrude Smith had been found so many decades earlier, exactly the same way, with a rough woolen blanket spread over her face, a face that had been pulverized beyond recognition. It was said that a jealous ex had caught her, and once more a case was closed. Now five years later, noted writer Daniel Kind is touring, signing books and spending time with his sister and enjoying the Lake District. Invited to Ravenbank by current owner Oz Knight and his wife, Daniel becomes fascinated by the mysterious murders, and when yet another occurs, to a woman of his acquaintance, a friend of Cold Case Inspector Hannah Scarlett, Daniel becomes curious about the earlier cases, and wonders if there is some connection between the two most recent murders. Can Daniel find the secret that ties these cases together, with some help from Hannah? When all is done, will three murders finally be solved?

The Frozen Shroud is a delightful mystery in the tradition of those old fashioned English mysteries of earlier days. I loved the leisurely pace Martin Edwards sets here, letting things slowly unfold, and building the suspense as we become acquainted with the characters and the neighborhood. I was drawn into the story, trying to solve this case along with the characters, and enjoying the leisurely trip through the countryside of the Lake District. I like that, although I could see that some of the characters had a prior history, it never got in the way of the enjoyment of the story, and made this a stand alone book. I enjoyed watching the hesitant and budding attraction between Daniel and Hannah, and how that relationship stayed firmly in the background until near the end of this.

This is an ensemble cast of characters, with many of the stereotypical English mystery stalwarts: the rich business owner who isn’t so rich at all, the loyal and dedicated servant, the eccentric pair of actors seemingly a couple. But Daniel and Hannah are the main characters, he with his insatiable curiosity for unsolved murder, and Hannah with her position as head of the Cold Case Squad. These two have a history, but neither is ready for more at the onset of this story, although they grow closer as time passes. The twists and turns kept me on my toes, and I can honestly say that I was sure I knew just who the guilty party was, but after each chapter, my culprit was shown to be innocent…or so it seemed. I will say that when the murderer was revealed, I was surprised and delighted that Mr. Edwards was able to keep me guessing through the whole thing. I recommend this mystery for all those who want a leisurely stroll through the English countryside, with puzzles to keep you enthralled and mystified till the end.

Comments

  1. How graphic are the murder scenes?

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