New Books: The Hanging Wood by Martin Edwards
The Hanging Wood by Martin Edwards
What is it like to have a brother or sister disappear forever? This is a question at the heart of my latest book, THE HANGING WOOD, fifth in the series of Lake District Mysteries. As a matter of fact, a question that has long intrigued me is apparently much simpler – what is it like to have a brother or sister? For I am an only child, and it’s not easy to imagine the very different lives and upbringing of siblings.
But the joy of writing fiction is that you have the licence to set your imagination free, and I took the chance to invent a string of brother/sister relationships which form the core of THE HANGING WOOD’s story-line. In the book, Orla Payne has never been able to come to terms with the idea that her older brother Callum was murdered by their uncle, who then committed suicide. The body was never found. Orla meets Daniel Kind, the historian, and when she confides in him, he urges her to talk to DCI Hannah Scarlett.
But when Orla finally talks to Hannah, she doesn’t make much sense, and the end result is a shocking tragedy. Stunned by what has happened, Hannah is driven to dig deep into the past, and – with Daniel’s help – uncovers a murderous web of familial deceit spanning decades.
The book is set in the Keswick area of the Lake District, one of the most beautiful places in Europe. Much of the action takes place in a tightly-knit community surrounding old Mockbeggar Hall – there is a farm, owned by Orla’s father, a caravan park where her mother used to live and now run by two brothers, a residential library, where she has been working, and the Hanging Wood of the title. The library, by the way, was inspired by a real-life library in North Wales – Gladstone’s Library, a magical place built by a Victorian Prime Minister and full of atmosphere.
This novel develops the slow-burning relationship between Hannah Scarlett and Daniel Kind, and as well as exploring family relationships, it also tackles the nature of justice. ‘Don’t you care about justice?’ Orla asks Hannah. Of course, Hannah does, but she finds that few things are harder in life than making sure that justice is truly done. And for me, writing THE HANGING WOOD has helped me gain a better understanding of what it is like to have a brother or sister.