Booth's character development is comparable to Reginald Hill's (medium), although Ben Cooper is more akin to Peter Pasco than Dalziel. Ben Cooper has a future, but I don't find Diane Fry appealing. I think Booth would have done better to spend more time in Cooper's head and less in Fry's. Rare is the writer who can inspire a protagonist of the opposite sex. P.D. James succeeded with Adam Dalglish, but Dalglish is older like James, and older men and women tend to think more alike than not. Life simply wears one down around the edges and narrows the differences.
Booth's forensics events are familiar, particularly if you are a fan of Patricia Cornwell, who did a masterful job of explaining the progression of the decomposition of the human body in BODY FARM. I suppose every mystery/crime writer has to resort to forensics these days, but it gets tiresome to read about flies and maggots over and over.Read more ›
I don't think I will read the follow-up.
Black Dog is the story of Detective Constable Ben Cooper, an English policeman who constantly worries that he will never equal his hero father. Diane Fry, an ambitious outsider, becomes his new partner, and they proceed to investigate the murder of a 15-year-old girl. Her parents, though, pose an obstacle. They are outsiders to the community and really do not seem anxious about finding the murderer of their daughter.
Ah, but then there is the old man and his black dog who found the body. He is closed mouth giving the impression he may know more. But does he? What is the real story. It is up Ben Cooper to find out.
This book is a great first mystery from Stephen Booth, and I look forward to reading more from him.
Cooper is trying hard to fight his father's ghost, a cop killed on duty, as well as other personal demons. He is teamed-up with Detective Constable Diane Fry, a newcomer to Cooper's police precinct. She is ambitious, headstrong and manages to take the case away from Cooper. They are opposites in personality and there are moments of friction between them in deciding how to investigate the case.
It is a good start to what seems to be a promising new series. I would like to see a deeper exploration of Cooper's jealousy toward Fry. The ending in the book seemed a little forced. The guilty are charged and sent to jail but it almost seems like an afterthought. There is a theme of friendship and loyalty between two of the townspeople but I did not feel it while reading the novel. The book mostly explores the personalities of Cooper and Fry as well as the alienation they both feel with their lives. On another side, Laura Vernon's parents have a lot of secrets and it does not help that the townspeople do not like these newcomers in their village.
I liked this book and I am looking forward to reading DANCING WITH THE VIRGINS, Booth's next novel.