As a founder member of Mystery Women in 1997, promoting Crime Fiction has always been my passion.
Following the closure of Mystery Women, a new group was formed on 30th January 2012 promoting crime fiction.
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Published by Sphere, 16th
June 2016. Kindle Edtion
I’ve followed the progress of Stephen Booth’s
Peak District detectives Ben Cooper and Diane Fry ever since they were both
callow young DCs with widely different personalities and approaches to the job.
Cooper is a Derbyshire lad born and bred, raised on a farm and very much a part
of country life; Fry is a Brummie lass, a townie to her fingertips, with little
time or patience for the people skills Cooper sees as part of the package.
In Secrets of
Death, Ben Cooper is a recently-promoted detective inspector, now in charge
of the team he was part of not long ago. He is still damaged by the tragic
death of his fiancée
four books ago, but is starting to move on. Diane Fry, having been promoted to
detective sergeant several books before Cooper, is still stuck on that rank,
but working in the city in a major crime unit, which suits her far better than
the rural life.
There are plenty of
familiar faces, especially on Cooper’s territory: young DCs Becky Hurst and
Luke Irvine, experienced hand DC Carol Villiers, pathologist Dr Doon,
surprisingly perceptive Superintendent Hazel Branagh. Even stolid old-style cop
Gavin Murfin reappears, despite having retired a couple of books ago. And of
course the glorious Peak District landscape, with surprisingly few adjustments
for the sake of fiction, plays a huge part, and made me get my map book out
more than once. The teeth-clenching climax (one of Booth’s greatest strengths
after character and landscape) takes place on the Monsal Viaduct, one of the
most picturesque places in the county.
abrasive approach invades the peace of Edendale in the course of an
investigation, on her side into the murders of three young women working in the
sex trade, on Cooper’s into a series of suicides in Derbyshire beauty spots,
which the press are threatening to label an epidemic. The plot delves into
interesting and controversial territory: the reasons behind suicide, and the
ethics behind the ‘assisted’ kind – on which subject, of course, the reader is
left to make up his or her own mind. And of course there’s a lot more to it,
and both Cooper and Fry bring their very different skills to the table to
ensure justice is done: following his highly intuitive and often accurate gut
feelings on his side, strict adherence to evidence and procedure on hers.
For fans of Stephen
Booth’s long-running series, Secrets of Death is another winner. For
anyone new to Cooper and Fry, there’s enough background to whet the appetite
for more, and a rattling good mystery into the bargain.
Stephen Booth was born in the English
Pennine mill town of Burnley.
He was brought up on the Lancashire coast at Blackpool, where he attended Arnold School.
He began his career in journalism by editing his school magazine, and wrote his
first novel at the age of 12. After graduating from City of Birmingham
Polytechnic (nowBirmingham University),
Stephen moved to Manchester
to train as a teacher, but escaped from the profession after a terrifying spell
as a trainee teacher in a big city comprehensive school.Starting work on his first newspaper in
in 1974, Stephen was a specialist rugby union reporter, as well as working
night shifts as a sub-editor on the Daily
Express and The Guardian. This
was followed by periods with local newspapers in Yorkshire,
Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. He was at various times Production Editor of
the Farming Guardian magazine,
Regional Secretary of the British Guild of Editors, and one of the UK's
first qualified assessors for the NVQ in Production Journalism.Freelance work began with rugby reports for
national newspapers and local radio stations. Stephen has also had articles and
photographs published in a wide range of specialist magazines, from Scottish Memories to Countrylovers Magazine, from Cat World to Canal and Riverboat, andone short story broadcast on BBC radio. In 1999, his writing
career changed direction when, in rapid succession, he was shortlisted for the
Dundee Bool Prize and the Crime Writers' Association Debut Dagger competition
for new writers, then won the £5,000 Lichfield Prize for his unpublished novel The Only Dead Thing, and signed a two-book contract with HarperCollins for a
series of crime novels.In 2000,
Stephen's first published novel, Black Dog, marked the arrival in print
of his best known creations - two young Derbyshire police detectives, DC Ben
Cooper and DS Diane Fry. Black Dog was the named by the London
Evening Standard as one of the six best crime novels of the year - the only
book on their list written by a British author. In the USA, it won the Barry Award for
Best British Crime Novel and was nominated for an Anthony Award for Best First
Mystery. The second Cooper & Fry novel, Dancing with the Virgins,
was shortlisted for the UK's top crime writing award, the Gold Dagger, and went
on to win Stephen a Barry Award for the second year running. The
publication of Blind to the Bones that year resulted in Stephen winning
the Crime Writers' Association's 'Dagger in the Library' Award, presented to
the author whose books have given readers most pleasure. All the books are set
in England's beautiful and atmospheric Peak District.
has been a writer ever since she could pick up a pen, and has enjoyed success
with short stories, reviews and feature journalism, but never, alas, with a
novel. She crossed to the dark side to become a publisher for a few years, and
is proud to have launched several careers which are now burgeoning. She lives
on the edge of rural Derbyshire in a house groaning with books, about half of
them crime fiction.