Almost Happy New Year to Auntie M’s readers, and she leaves you for 2018 with one of her favorite reads of this year.

Sarah Ward’s newest DC Childs mystery, The Shrouded Path, has led the Guardian to note: “Like Ann Cleeves . . . Ward has a gift for the macabre.”

Auntie M hadn’t really thought of Ward’s series that way, but she supposed it fits, as that sort of creepyiness that infiltrates the best of Cleeves work is at play in this series, too.

The plot centers around events of 1957, with some details dropped in from that time period alerting the readers to a well, macabre incident that happened then but isn’t made clear until near the end of the book. All in good time . . .

For DC Connie Childs, getting used to DI Matthews covering for DI Sadler, having a staycation, news that an elderly woman has been found dead sitting upright in her own living room sounds like nothing more than a routine death, if death can ever be routine to the person whose died. Then why does Connie feel like she should pursue the matter? Is it simple boredom, or a wish to impress their new DC, Peter Dahl?

At the same time, Mina Kemp, a gardener known locally as the Land Girl, has been visiting her dying mother in hospital. When her mother becomes agitated over a girl known as Valerie, it soon becomes apparent that to ease her mother’s mind, she must find this Valerie, whom her mum keeps insisting has visited her. But then the oddest thing happens. Mina’s mum confesses Valerie is dead.

With Connie using her instincts to push on the investigation, a second death of an eldery woman comes to light, and when it seems the two women knew each other, Connie and Peter Dahl are alert to the connection. And then a third woman dies, and this time there can be no pretending this was a natural death, especially when she’s linked to the other two women.

With tales of old, secrets kept, and people who’ve learned to cope moving on, even Sadler will be surprised at the turn of events in this fully realized, compelling mystery. A strong entry in a fine series, this one just keeps getting better and better, and earns Auntie M’s ‘highly recommended rating’ for the last day of 2018.

Advertisements