The Hanging Wood by Martin Edwards

The Hanging WoodTwenty years ago, Orla Payne’s brother Callum disappeared without trace. After his uncle committed suicide, the case was closed, despite there being no body. Historian Daniel Kind prompts her to contact DCI Hannah Scarlett, head of the local Cold Case team, but after leaving a couple of messages, Orla heads to the farm where Callum disappeared… and is soon found dead at the bottom of a silo.

Due in part to guilt, and in part due to Orla’s influential employers, Hannah is tasked with finding the truth. But there are dangers in the present day as well as the past – and the murderer is still willing to kill to keep their secrets…

The fifth in the series of Lake District mysteries featuring Kind and Scarlett, I’ve been saving this one for a while – but with a bout of ill health and the upcoming sixth book in the series, it was time for it to leave the shelf. But with four strong books in the series so far, can it keep the momentum up?

To clarify – this is a good book. It is contains an intriguing, page-turning mystery, where all of the suspects are real people. There are twists and turns in the plot and a good reveal of the villain of the piece – so what’s the problem?

Two things really – despite its quality, it didn’t click with me as much as the first four books. While this is good, they were great. At the end of the day, the mystery didn’t make me go “Wow!”. I honestly can’t put my finger on why, which really doesn’t help in a review, but there didn’t seem to be quite as much spark as in the predecessors.

The other thing – and this isn’t anything to do with the mystery – but the recurring theme throughout the books is the will-they-won’t-they relationship between Kind and Scarlett. At the end of the previous book, events had conspired to remove a lot of the obstacles between them. I was hoping, old romantic that I am, that things would significantly move forward in this one. Unfortunately, they don’t, and seemingly for no particular reason. Edwards keeps the characters separate for a long portion of the book, which I presumed meant that when they eventually meet up, things would progress, but the author makes a different choice. Scarlett’s sudden attraction for another character seemed out of character as well.

Anyway, as I’ve said before, this is a series is to be read in order – and it is a very strong series. Recommended.


  1. So very glad you think so highly of this series. It’s one of my favourites. I have to say I agree with you about Kind and Scarlett. I would definitely like an answer on that. A-hem, Martin… 😉


  2. I have read one (the first) of this series and plan to read the second. I am glad you see this as a strong series. I think I will have the same problems as you with the ongoing iffy relationship with the two protagonists. That is a pet peeve of mine. This is a great review.


    • To be fair, the progression of the relationship is perfectly timed and natural in the first four books – it’s just this one that had, in my opinion, a bit of an unsatisfactory turn. Fingers crossed for The Frozen Shroud


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