Martin Edwards

The Frozen Shroud

"The Frozen Shroud’ is a marvellous Gothic gem with plenty of the dark and the mysterious to keep you riveted..."


It is a cold Hallowe’en night and the conversation turns to the macabre and the supernatural at Ravenback Hall. Old legends are told of a woman, Gertrude Smith who worked at the Hall a century ago and who had an affair with her employer. On All Hallows’ Eve Gertrude was murdered, her face battered beyond recognition and a blanket placed over her ruined head. She wasn’t found until morning and by that time the ‘shroud’ had become frozen and attached to Gertrude’s savaged face. Now a faceless woman walks the lanes of Ravenbank never to rest in peace.

That same night another woman is found dead in Ravenbank, her face totally destroyed and a shroud across her damaged features. Five years later and people are congregating at Ravenbank Hall, Daniel Kind and his sister, Louise included. The next day a woman is missing. Is the legend of Ravenbank to be repeated? It isn’t long before Daniel is shifting through the past to find answers as DCI Hannah Scarlett searches the present for a killer who is proving a lot more lethal than a faceless ghost.

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I have to admit that Martin Edwards is one of those writers who has been on my ‘to be read’ pile for some time now and I wish I had done so a lot sooner. Not one to dwell on the past I am now happy in the knowledge that I have some catching up to do now and I am anticipating some great books coming my way. It is also good that each book of this series can be read without having to start at the beginning. However, let’s start with ‘The Frozen Shroud’. Why did it appeal to me so much and why did it deserve the ‘Author of the Month’ spot? Edwards is spot on at conjuring atmosphere and instils an intense claustrophobia as the solid winter darkness falls and as the dense fog squeezes the life out of the day. Sometimes I felt that the small cast of characters in this book weren’t on the mainland, but marooned on an island, separated from the rest of humanity by the forces of nature. You can tell that Edwards loves this part of the UK, but is not averse to showing the unseemly side of it, either. ‘The Frozen Shroud’ is a marvellous Gothic gem with plenty of the dark and the mysterious to keep you riveted to Edwards’ tale. You can tell that Edwards enjoys this genre as he scatters forgotten Gothic writers of old who were feted in their day and now forgotten. ‘The Killer and the Slain’, which I had never heard of is mentioned here and already I have bought the book as it intrigued me so much! The plot of ‘The Frozen Shroud’ is well-played and with the intensity of a two-person play, (a subject touched upon in the book), the small cast of ‘players’ in this drama adds to the intensity and it wasn’t until near the very end that I had a glimmer as to where Edwards was directing this reader. In a nutshell, ‘The Frozen Shroud’ is a well-constructed mystery that I am sure Christie herself would have been pleased to put her name against. Saying that, Edwards does not sacrifice his characters for plot and leads his protagonists a merry dance of emotions. This is a splendid work of entertainment and one I strongly implore you to explore. Saying that, I do suggest you don’t read this book on a winter’s evening, in a solitary cottage in the middle of nowhere with the fog pressing against the windows. Not unless you really want to lose a night’s sleep! Enjoy!

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