> Bless Their Hearts Mom: Book Review: Black Dog by Stephen Booth
Monday, October 21, 2013

Book Review: Black Dog by Stephen Booth

Disclosure / Disclaimer: I received this ebook, free of charge, from partners in Crime book tours, for review purposes on this blog. No other compensation, monetary or in kind, has been received or implied for this post. Nor was I told how to post about it

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The helicopters are halted. The search for fifteen-year-old Laura Vernon ends when her body is found, murdered, in the forest. On his hunt for the killer, detective Ben Cooper begins to suspect the people of Derbyshire are guarding some dark secrets-secrets that Laura might have known. Further complicating his investigation, Cooper is paired with an unfamiliar partner: Diane Fry, a woman as tenacious as she is alluring. Together they learn that in order to understand the town’s present, they must unearth its past. Black Dog is like Twin Peaks by way of Tana French, and the first novel in the multiple award-winning Cooper and Fry series.

Read an excerpt:

The spot where Ben Cooper stood was remote and isolated. A passing walker wouldn't have been able to see him up here among the bracken, even if he'd bothered to look up. Cooper turned round, wafting his hand across his face against the flies. He was looking through the trees and thick brambles as if towards the end of a dark tunnel, where the figure of Harry Dickinson was framed in a network of branches. Cooper had to squint against a patch of dazzling light that soaked the hillside in strong colours. The old man stood in the glare of the low sun, with hot rocks shimmering around him like a furnace. The haze of heat made his outline blur and writhe, as if he were dancing a slow shimmy. His shadow, flung across the rocks, seemed to wriggle and jerk as its shape fragmented among the bracken and brambles. The expression in Harry's eyes was unreadable, his face lying partly in the shade from the peak of his cap. Cooper couldn't even tell which way he was looking, whether he'd turned away or was staring directly towards him in the trees. He wanted to grab the old man by the shoulders and shake him. He wanted to tell him that somebody had disturbed this spot, and recently. The evidence was right there for anyone to see, and to smell. There had been two people here, and at least one of them had been looking for more than just rabbits. The smell that lingered under the trees was of stale blood. And the flies had found something even more attractive than Cooper's sweat to feed on.


I LOVED this book! A new series to start reading! This is actually the re-release of the series to the United States, and this is book one. There are actually 13 books in the series (the latest just been released in the UK). If this book is an example of the series, I will HAVE to read the other 12! 

Booth dies an excellent job in setting the scene, both of place and with his characters back stories, so that you feel that you really KNOW Ben and Diana already, even though this is the first book. He continues setting the rural setting into the readers mind, so that it comes as no surprise that the supporting cast and those involved in the mystery all hold secrets of their own. In many ways it reminded me of a modern take on an Agatha Christie book- everything is laid out, but the reader doesn't see it, due to misdirection and extraneous clues, yet it is all wound up in a tidy bundle, so that when you reach the end of the book you find yourself hitting your head and going 'oh duh!'. I shouldn't be surprised, as he quotes Agatha as one of his favorite authors, in a recent interview!

I loved all the twists and turns and read the book in 2 sittings, only because I HAD to, otherwise this page turner would have been a solo sitting! It was actually very refreshing to read the relationship between Ben and Diana, as it was realistic and honest. Even before reading the snyopses of the rest of the books in the series, I could tell how their professional careers was going to go, based on this book, but I will be quite interested to see how the author plays them out in the subsequent books (and lucky us- we don't have to wait for the paperback versions, we can get all the ebooks now! Isn't it amazing how technology has shortened our 'anticipation/wait periods'? ). 

If you're looking for a new police procedural series, that harkens back to classic mysteries, check out Black Dog and the rest of the Ben Cooper/Diana Fry books, and you won't be disappointed!

About the Author:

Stephen Booth is an award winning British crime writer, the creator of two young Derbyshire police detectives, DC Ben Cooper and DS Diane Fry, who have appeared in twelve novels set in England’s beautiful and atmospheric Peak District. Stephen has been a Gold Dagger finalist, an Anthony Award nominee, twice winner of a Barry Award for Best British Crime Novel, and twice shortlisted for the Theakston’s Crime Novel of the Year. Ben Cooper was a finalist for the Sherlock Award for the best detective created by a British author, and in 2003 the Crime Writers’ Association presented Stephen with the Dagger in the Library Award for “the author whose books have given readers the most pleasure”.

 The Cooper & Fry series is published all around the world, and has been translated into 15 languages. The latest title is DEAD AND BURIED, with a new book, ALREADY DEAD, published in June 2013. For more info check out his website and Twitter pages for more on the author and the series!

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1 comment:

  1. Twists and turns are what I look for in a mystery thriller! Thanks for sharing your review.


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