Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Stephen Booth - Black Dog

Title: Black Dog
Author: Stephen Booth

ISBN # 9780006514329

Publisher: Harper Collins

First Published: 2001

528 pages

Format: paperback

Rating: 8/10

Dark, intense and utterly compelling, 'Black Dog' was an extraordinary first novel from a writer who has rapidly become the most promising crime author to emerge in the genre in years. 'Where Cooper stood was remote and isolated! But the smell that lingered under the trees was of blood.' The long hot Peak District summer came to an end when they found Laura Vernon's body. But for local policeman Ben Cooper the work has just begun. His community is hiding a young girl's killer and a past as dark as the Derbyshire night. It seems Laura was the keeper of secrets beyond her years and, in a case where no-one is innocent, everyone is a suspect. But Cooper's local knowledge and instincts are about to face an even greater challenge. The ambitious DC Diane Fry has been called in from another division, a woman as ruthless as she is attractive!

From start to finish, this is an exploration of secrets – everyone has them and some are darker than others! It's rather dark and you get the feeling that "outsiders" aren't necessarily welcome despite Edendale being a tourist town in the summer - an air of "This is a local town, for local people - there's nothing for you here!"

Plenty of twists & turns keep the reader engrossed as the police are thrown off the scent, whether by accident or design. There is constant intrigue, and some really good character development throughout the story. I was kept guessing all the way through the book, till the very end I had absolutely no idea who the murderer is – I was as much in the dark as the police, yet when the mystery was solved, I could look back and see exactly where the clues were offered up. It was almost like having a jigsaw puzzle and thinking you've lost a piece from the middle, only to realise you were sitting on it all along!

As a crime novel, this was an intensely good read and as a debut, it’s incredibly impressive. I'll definitely be trying more of Stephen booth's work at some point in the future.


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