It’s been a difficult time in Scenic Village, what with trouble at the day job, and work needed to the Humble Abode. Instead of reading country crime, I’ve been reading anything but, from Ellie Griffith’s latest, The Outcast Dead, to Lindsey Davies’ most recent Flavia adventure, “Enemies at Home”. If there was a Naughty Step for bloggers, I’d be on it right now.
However, before real life so rudely interrupted, I was reading the first two volumes of Martin Edwards’ Lake District mysteries, “The Coffin Trail” and “The Arsenic Labyrinth”. In these, the famous telly-historian Daniel Kind has newly moved to the Lake District, down-sizing, escaping the rat race, and at the same time trying to find out more about his dead father, who walked out on his family when Daniel was a child.
Daniel meets up with DI Hannah Scarlett, who used to work for his father, and together they solve a couple of cold cases that have spilled over into the present. They’re good on the culture shock the new arrivals can experience, and show how soon idealism about rural life shades over into the acceptance of reality – or otherwise, as in the case of Daniel’s journalist girlfriend, for whom the siren voices of London grow ever louder.
Booth makes it all look effortless. There are good plot twists, and the growing relationship between the characters is fully realised. He writes female characters convincingly, which puts him ahead of many more famous names. These first two volumes slipped down my reading gullet like custard, instantly digestible with no nasty lumpy bits. (Extending the custard analogy for a moment, there are one or two writers that haven’t stirred the powder in properly and every now and again you hit the unblended raw material, which leaves you muttering “pah, pah, pah” – Booth has mixed everything just right.)”