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The Coffin Trail

The Coffin Trail - Martin Edwards This book was selected for the Isle of Man Crime Book Club read. I always feel I read the book s for this more harshly than I would if it were a book I’d selected myself. I had been thinking of reading a book by Martin Edwards as my future boss mention him in my job interview. He’s also coming to the Island on the 25th of June – If I am I’ll have to go a long to the Crime Evening he has organised. (as it turned out that was the day I left the Island so I missed this)As for the book… It didn’t quite grab me. There were a lot of elements I really liked but there were too many inter-relationships. Nearly every character seems to have had an affair at some point and I felt this diluted the tension between the two main characters. There were some lines I really liked: ‘she had been pretty once, even her passport photograph couldn’t conceal that fact.’ And lines I didn’t: ‘…he couldn’t quite believe he’d taken things so far. Thank God their love for each other was so strong.’ There were a couple of times where a character notices that someone is sweating or red faced etc from a long distance away. As I read that it made me stop and think – can you really tell if beads of sweat are breaking out on someone’s forehead at a distance of twenty feet?I made the mistake of reading the blurb on the front cover: 'A first-rate complex Thriller.' It is not a thriller in any shape or form. When I’d gotten about a hundred pages in I stopped expecting the thrills and started to read it for what it is – a modern day cozy. A slightly genre bending cozy but cozy non-the-less. It really felt like an episode of Midsomer Murders. Cozies aren’t really my thing but I like to read the odd one.The way Edwards has set this up is nice. There are two main characters – an ex-Oxford don and a cop. The cop is working a cold case so and her ex-boss is the don’s late father. Her respect for his father means she (the cop is female) tolerates him more than she would otherwise. A cold case means there is no crime scene to be trampled over and gives scope for a non-cop to get involved. The location – a small village in The Lakes gives you an enclosed set of suspects. And Edwards plays by the rules of the Detection Club – no clues are withheld, no seemingly sane person turns out to be crazy (so not too much like Midsommer Murders) and he does not rely on co-incidences.I pretty much worked out who had done it and why at about the half-way point. The line that gave it way for me came on page 190 of the 299 page novel. It wasn’t a line related to the crime and I don’t know why it triggered the reaction it did but as soon as read I knew what had happened. In fact I was only about 75% correct. It made reading the rest of the book different. It didn’t spoil it at all, I became interested in how Edwards would misdirect people. It was like watching a magician when you know the trick – you can still admire the skill and dexterity of the performance.If you are into Whodunnits then this is right up your street.Martin Edwards has a blog here: http://doyouwriteunderyourownname.blogspot.com/ which I recommend. He is very knowledgeable about crime fiction and has good taste in films.