Joanne’s Mystery Picks

41589794FALL DOWN DEAD by Stephen Booth

Setting has always been an important aspect of Stephen Booth’s novels.  In his latest Cooper and Fry mystery, it takes centre-stage.  The Peak District in Derbyshire, England, is as majestic and beautiful as it is dangerous.  Even the most seasoned hikers have been known to perish on any one of its mountains.  DI Ben Cooper is called to the scene when a member of a hiking group is killed in a fall .

But something about the position of the body suggests to Cooper that this was no accident.

As Cooper looks into the lives of each of the members of the hiking party, he discovers that many of them had reason to wish this person dead.

Meanwhile DS Diane Fry has been removed from her duties in order to answer questions in an internal investigation. She soon realizes that she’s going to have to do something that she’s not very good at and that’s to ask for help.

Booth delivers a gripping and exciting story with an ending that will surely take everyone by surprise.

4 Daggers
Joanne gives this “4 daggers out of 5”

Joanne’s Mystery Picks

33280952DEAD IN THE DARK BY STEPHEN BOOTH

DI Ben Cooper seems very comfortable in his own skin these days even though his job as a DI means more responsibilities.  He’s settled into his new digs in Foolow and though the pain of losing his fiancé, Liz, still hurts, time is beginning to heal that wound.

When Reece Bower goes missing, Ben resurrects an old case and investigation.  Annette Bower, Reece’s wife, had gone missing ten years previously.  Reece was charged with her murder but when a witness came forward claiming to have seen Annette after her disappearance, the case against Reece was dismissed.  Everyone believed that Reece was guilty, but without a body, it was hard to prove anything.  And now Reece has gone missing and his new wife wants his disappearance investigated.  Ben’s investigation takes him into caves and abandoned mines, territory originally searched during the investigation into Annette Bower’s death.

Falling somewhere between a thriller and a “cosy”, Booth’s latest in the Cooper & Fry series provides us with a satisfactory story.  There aren’t any graphic or grisly scenes of bodies and no real “eureka” moments, but what we do see is the painstaking work that policing often is.

Joanne’s Mystery Picks

9780751559989Secrets 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.

9781459732148A 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.