Secrets of Death by Stephen Booth
Booth’s sixteenth novel in the Cooper and Fry series takes us throughout the Peak District as Ben and his team try to come to grips with a series of suicides. Each death has taken place in an open, picturesque area, not at all secluded or hidden from the tourists who frequent this beautiful part of the country. But are these deaths related? Or are they a cover for one of the deaths which is not a suicide?
While Ben and his team in Edendale tackle this puzzle, DS Diane Fry in Nottingham has lost a key witness in her current case. When a connection between the two cases seems apparent, Cooper and Fry have to set aside their differences and work together to bring both cases to a satisfactory conclusion.
At times, Booth’s lengthy descriptions of the area his detectives cover read like a travelogue and I just want him to get on with the story. He leaves us with questions about some of the characters, perhaps foreshadowing what’s to come in future novels. It’s enough to pique one’s interest to look forward to book number seventeen.
A Cast of Falcons by Steve Burrows
This book opens with a man’s death-fall from a cliff face, witnessed by another man through his binoculars some distance away. It’s a deeply disturbing scene as the victim realizes his fate and begs forgiveness for his sins. The watcher approaches the body, takes out a battered book from his own backpack, writes something in it, and places it in the pocket of the dead man.
Meanwhile Danny Maik is investigating the murder of Philip Wayland, a researcher involved in a local climate change project, whose decapitated body is found by a jogger on a public access path. When DCI Dominic Jejeune is called away to Scotland because a book with his name in it is found on the body of a rock climber, Maik and Chief Superintendent Colleen Shepherd expect him to be back the next day and to continue with the investigation into Wayland’s murder. After all, what can be so important about a book with Jejeune’s name in it when the victim died by accident? However, he doesn’t return for a number of days and when he does, he’s distracted, irritable, and more secretive than ever.
When another murder takes place, the evidence increasingly points to a falconry on the research facility’s property. But Maik struggles to make any headway as Jejeune’s bizarre behaviour continues to drive a wedge between them.