The Shrouded Path is a mystery set in the Peak District. It opens with an eerie event from 1957; six girls enter a train tunnel but only five appear at the other end. With no obvious alternative exits, where did the sixth girl go?
The story then moves forward to 2017. In the small village of Bampton a retired secretary is found dead. Another older woman dies in hospital; her saline drip shows evidence of tampering. The local police, led by DI Sadler, are curious enough to dig a little deeper into the backgrounds of both women.
Meanwhile, Mina Kemp, the daughter of one of the deceased, finds an old photograph of a group of five girls. Before she died, her mother became agitated, claiming she’d seen someone she’d thought was dead; she was desperate for Mina to search for someone called Valerie. Both Mina and the police examine the past for answers to the present.
In an even-paced plot, the author drew on the cold, damp and some of the less hospitable aspects of one of England’s breath-taking National Parks, to create a suitable setting for this story. I thought it worked well, especially with the book title; there definitely was an sinister chill surrounding the narrative. A small cast of characters kept me engaged with the writing, and even though this is the first book that I’ve read of the series, it could easily be read as a stand-alone piece. Overall a good solid police crime fiction novel.
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November, 1957: Six teenage girls walk in the churning Derbyshire mists, the first chills of winter in the air. Their voices carrying across the fields, they follow the old train tracks into the dark tunnel of the Cutting. Only five appear on the other side.
October, 2014: a dying mother, feverishly fixated on a friend from her childhood, makes a plea: ‘Find Valerie.’ Mina’s elderly mother had never discussed her childhood with her daughter before. So who was Valerie? Where does her obsession spring from?
DC Connie Childs, off balance after her last big case, is partnered up with new arrival to Bampton, Peter Dahl. Following up on what seems like a simple natural death, DC Childs’ old instincts kick in, pointing her right back to one cold evening in 1957. As Connie starts to broaden her enquiries, the investigation begins to spiral increasingly close to home.