Dancing with the Virgins: A Constable Ben Cooper Novel Mass Market Paperback – Oct 2002
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From Publishers Weekly
After an atmospheric beginning, Booth settles down to a lengthy investigation marked by long stretches of unrelieved tedium in his second crime novel (after 2000's Black Dog). On Ringham Moor, in a remote area of England, a prehistoric ring of stones known as the Nine Virgins stands guardian over mankind's darkest secrets. To this lonely area comes Jenny Weston, a young cyclist. Entranced by the scenery's eerie ambience, Jenny doesn't hear the stealthy approach of a silent stalker, knife at the ready, who graphically dispatches her and artfully arranges her body to simulate a woman dancing. The killing seems singularly motiveless, and Diane Fry and Ben Cooper, the detectives assigned to the case, are an odd couple: Fry is a feminist and Cooper a beer-drinking sports enthusiast with a taste for records from the '80s. When they discover that another woman, Maggie Crew, was attacked by a knife-wielding assailant not half a mile from Ringham Moor, the plot appears to thicken. Unfortunately, the tone of the investigation is so matter-of-fact that the mystery fails to grip. Moreover, the characters are opaque, often one-dimensional, and the ultimate revelation of the murderer comes as a distinct anticlimax. The author seems more concerned with a welter of subplots, one involving a farmer running a dog-fighting ring and his bte noire, an animal rights activist intent on mayhem. Booth is more successful at evoking the desolate moor, with its windswept cairns, stone circles and prehistoric burial grounds. But for most mystery fans, the mix will fail to gel. Agent, Teresa Chris.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
Back after last year's well-received debut, Black Dog, Booth provides another psychologically complex British police procedural featuring Detective Constable Ben Cooper. When the body of Jenny Weston is found, displayed as if she were dancing, at the ancient site of the Nine Virgins stone circle, police suspect the same person who attacked and brutally disfigured Maggie Crew on the same Derbyshire moor just weeks earlier. But eight weeks and another nonfatal attack later, they are no closer to solving the crime, despite a list of possible suspects that includes a burglar with a potential personal grievance, a bad-tempered farmer driven to desperate means to survive economically, a well-respected park ranger who is found to like child pornography, and Jenny's ex-husband. Acting Detective Sergeant Diane Fry, a former partner of Cooper who got the promotion that seemed destined for him, can't jog Maggie's memories of her assailant. And Cooper must contend with his prickly relationship with Fry and his basic loyalty and humanity, as he sees victims where others see only suspects and shades of gray where others see black and white. Booth ought to be popular wherever Barbara Vine and Minette Walters have a following; for all such mystery collections. Michele Leber, Fairfax Cty. P.L., VA
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
This book is packed with red herrings, but in superior story like this, you can't just call the red herrings red herrings. They are full fledged, highly involving subplots. What I mean is, the police connect victim Jenny Weston to a whole lot of strange people, with odd secrets. There's the nasty farmer, with the quiet, scared little boys, whose wife found Maggie Crews after she'd been slashed, and who is up to something sinister in his barn. There is Mark Roper, area Ranger, who may be dangerously manic about the rules, and who seems to know a secret about his lonely boss, Owen, who doesn't always answer his radio when he should. There's another missing woman, Ros Daniels, who may have visited Jenny Weston in her home, but if so, were they friends or enemies?Read more ›
I know that I enjoyed the book at the time-- it was a quick read and kept me well occupied in a week where I was sick, but the plot felt a bit overdone. And now that I sit (one week later) to write a review, I found it really difficult to remember who had done what to whom and why.
A woman's body is found in a ring of standing stones which legend has it are the remains of Virgins caught dancing on a Sunday and turned to stone. Bound up in the mystery are a woman with a disfigured face found wandering in the same location, a very angry farmer on the brink of ruin, and a missing girl with dreadlocks who nobody seems to be able to identify. Even while still being at odds, Ben Cooper and Diane Fry need to work together to solve the mystery.
This is Stephen Booth's second book following on from Black Dog, and revisits Ben Cooper and Diane Fry. Apart from the mystery, this books concentrates on delving deeper into the characters introduced in the first book. The relationship between Ben and Diane is continually developed, as are the secrets they appear to be hiding. At some points, the murder case takes a secondary role to the characterisations. Because of this character development, I would recommend reading Black Dog before this book.
It takes a while to really get going, as with many police investigations, but pretty soon things start coming together. A nicely woven mystery is unravelled with a few surprises, both pleasant and unpleasant, revealed along the way.
The setting of the book is once again a powerful factor in setting the mood of the story, which is not what I would term upbeat. It always feels dangerous, dark and menacing - just like a good murder mystery should.
The resolution is slow coming but very satisfactory. The on-again-off-again relationship between Ben and Diane appears to be warming up but both have depths and secretes not yet available to the other.
Reminds me somewhat of the early books by Peter Robinson. rating 4.5/5
Most recent customer reviews
I've reviewed the 3rd book in this series as one of my favourites. This one is less so. Where his first in the series introduces us to his writing style and to the characters, this... Read morePublished 21 months ago by Sir Steven
The end left me with a few unanswered questions but Mr Booth is so good at storytelling it was well worth the read.Published on Dec 27 2009 by Slipping Away
As with "Black Dog", Stephen Booth has written a chilly, uncomfortable, airtight story that requires full concentration (or else you'll find yourself going back and reading copious... Read morePublished on July 15 2002 by Laurie Fletcher