20 years after Callum Hinds disappeared, presumed dead, and with the suicide of the boy’s uncle days after used as a convenient scapegoat, his sister Orla returns to the area and is determined to have the case re-opened. She tells local historian Daniel Kind that she believes her uncle to be innocent of the crime and he recommends that she contact Hannah Scarlett, who heads up Cumbria Police’s Cold Case unit. However, after two incoherent telephone calls to the Unit, Orla is found dead on her estranged father’s farm, and so begins another beguiling case for Hannah Scarlett and her team.
Whilst Orla’s death is marked as a suicide, the question of ‘why’ remains open; and when another death follows swiftly on, Hannah is left looking for connections between three deaths, 20 years apart.
Martin Edwards’ use of landscape and character to bewitchingly build the tension is always evident in this series, which itself is a rarity for being known by its location, as opposed to its lead characters. This allows for scope and the opportunity to introduce new characters to move each story forward and develop the series as a whole. Small communities may be a hive of hidden tension but Edwards makes it all so believable while never over-dramatising, and The Hanging Wood comes as a highly recommended novel of suspense.