The Hanging Wood is a good detective story, but wasn’t outstanding for me. It’s the 5th in the Lake District Mystery series and maybe I missed out by not having read any of the previous.

Hannah Scarlett is the head of Cumbria’s Cold Case Review Team. The case this time is that of a teenage boy who disappeared 20 years ago. His uncle was suspected of killing the boy and he hung himself, which everyone at the time assumed meant he was guilty. The case was brought up again by the boy’s sister, Orla Payne, who makes a drunken call to the Cold Case team and soon after is found dead in a grain silo.

Hannah takes up the investigation, revealing secrets about the local rich family. She’s aided by Greg, a member of her team, and Daniel Kind a historian who I believe is also one of the recurring characters in the series. The book started slowly for me; it took several chapters to grab my attention. The mystery’s well-done though. The clues are there, but I didn’t put it together until the revelations at the end. The people, both good and bad, are real, living with the decisions they’ve made over the years.

Hannah’s personal life takes up some of the book. She has an ex who owns a bookstore, is definitely attracted to Daniel who seems to truly like her, and then there’s this Greg who also grabs her attention. I feel like I didn’t know the characters as well as I would have had I started the series at the beginning, which is  a shame really since they seemed like interesting folks.

The Lake District setting is one of the reasons I wanted to read the book, but I don’t think it was explored/described as well as it could have been, maybe because this was the 5th in the series. Farm life was a big part of it, a dangerous occupation apparently.

And there was a residential library that played a part in the story. Can you imagine staying at the library you’re doing research in? The one in the book is based on Gladstone’s Library at St. Deiniol’s. It seems like an absolutely amazing, gorgeous place.

I do think I may try starting the series at the beginning. I think that would give me a better connection to the characters and place.

Purchase at Amazon or an Indie bookstore.

3 out of 5 stars

Category: Mystery & Detective

Lake District Mystery #5
278 pages
Published April 4, 2011 by Poisoned Pen Press

Book source: Review copy



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