The Shrouded Path by Sarah Ward – review

Published by Faber and Faber

Publication date – 6 September 2018

Source – review copy

The past won’t stay buried forever…

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.

1957 and a young girl watches 6 girls enter a railway tunnel and only 5 emerge. 40 years later and Mina’s mother asks her to find Valerie. Who is Valerie and does she have any links to deaths that had appeared natural but which DC Connie Childs is beginning to suspect were anything but?

I have read the first two books in the Sadler and Childs series but hadn’t read the third. This didn’t detract from the story, though there were a few times the previous case was mentioned vaguely but it didn’t spoil the story for me.

I like the fact that real places, such as LadyBower and Glossop, are mentioned alongside the fictional location of Bampton. By doing so Bampton becomes more of a real place. Though I am glad it is fictional in a way as my impression of it is that it is permanently shrouded in fog and that the inhabitants have to put up with a constant fine drizzle.

All of the characters added something to the story. I like Connie more in this novel. There are some light moments with her and it was good to see her relationship develop with the new arrival Peter Dahl. I was also a little worried that Sadler wouldn’t be in this novel but luckily he returned to the pages soon enough, despite him supposedly being on leave. The body of characters was limited to a small group, which added to the sense of secrecy and suspicion.

There is a sense of disquiet about the story. The secret, long-held for 60 years, is the driving force of the narrative, and the sense of potential malice from someone determined for it not remain buried is threaded throughout the tale.

This is not your typical murder mystery. It’s more of a mystery than may have been murder. There are no graphic violent scenes or made dashes to hunt down a serial killer. Instead the tension builds slowly, drawing the reader in until they are as invested as the detectives in finding out the truth.

The Shrouded Path is a well paced, intelligent novel that draws the reader in, compelling them to read more to find out the truth about that mysterious vanishing all those years ago. Recommended.

About the author

Sarah Ward is an online book reviewer whose blog, Crimepieces (, reviews the best of current crime fiction published around the world. She has also reviewed for Eurocrime and Crimesquad and is a judge for the Petrona Award for Scandinavian translated crime novels. She lives in Derbyshire. Follow Sarah on Twitter @sarahrward1


2 Comments Add yours

  1. I’ve heard good things about this one but didn’t realise it is part of a series. Maybe should check out the previous ones first.


    1. janetemson says:

      If you do, let me know what you think of them 🙂


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