Black Dog (Cooper & Fry Mysteries)

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9780062350428: Black Dog (Cooper & Fry Mysteries)

Combining the qualities of Reginald Hill, Minette Walters and Barbara Vine, Black Dog is an amazingly assured and impressive debut thriller from the most promising new author to emerge in the genre in recent years.

It’s a long, hot summer in the Peak District, but the blue skies are darkened by police helicopters and the sound of birdsong is drowned out by the increasing hysteria of a full-scale search operation for a missing teenage girl. Laura Vernon is smart, sexy and the keeper of many secrets, but now she’s lying dead in a thicket in the heart of the country.

Harry Dickinson finds the body, but what instincts make him so bent on obstructing the police investigation into Laura’s murder? And what do he and his two fellow retired lead miners find to talk about on those long, balmy nights in the pub, hunched over their game of dominoes?

Graham Vernon is a man who knows all about secrets, and the police are at a loss to understand the attitude of this powerful businessman and his glamorous wife to their precious daughter. The Vernons are holding something back. But what could be more important than the discovery of Laura’s brutal murderer?

Ben Cooper, a young DC living with tragedy, has known the villagers all his life, but his instinctive feelings about the case are called into question by the arrival of Diane Fry, a ruthlessly ambitious DC from another division. As Ben and Diane take the first steps in a complicated dance of suspicion, attraction and frustration, they discover that to understand the present, they must also understand the past – and in a world where no one is entirely innocent, pain and suffering can be the only outcome.

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Review:

Stephen Booth's first novel Black Dog is an impressive portrait of two sorts of policing. Ben is a local man who knows everybody and perhap scares too much, while Diane is a stranger wherever she goes and is perhaps too cold-blooded; when they find themselves rivals for promotion, and colleagues on a difficult case, breaking strain is going to be reached sooner or later. Spoiled, young Laura Vernon is missing, soon to be found dead, and the question soon arises: is she only, or even, the first? Retired quarryman Harry found the body and perhaps knows more than he is letting on, but he will do anything rather than tell the police more than he has to. The Vernons' gardener is missing, a thuggish young man rather too fond of showing off his muscles--what does he know? What went on at the Vernons' smart cocktail parties and what do Harry and his friends talk about over their beer in the pub? This is an ingenious dark little mystery in which there may be solutions to problems, but no cures; Ben and Diane are two of the more interestingly flawed young cops of recent crime fiction. -- Roz Kaveney

Review:

"The Boston Globe "Black Dog skillfully renders the small-village atmosphere of England's Peak District quite effectively while weaving a good puzzle into local custom....[Booth's] sense of smell and sound is a gift.

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