Sunday, December 27, 2015

Book Review: Dead and Buried

Kerry Hammond is here to review Dead and Buried by Stephen Booth.

Dead and Buried is the 12th book in the British Cooper & Fry mystery series by Stephen Booth. It was published on November 4, 2014, by Witness Impulse, in paperback. This is the second book I’ve read by Booth, the first was The Murder Road, which I really enjoyed. So when I saw Dead and Buried at Bouchercon, the yearly Mystery Fan Conference, I grabbed it for a Mystery Playground review.

Ben Cooper is a Derbyshire Detective Sergeant who investigates crime in the Peak District. Wildfires are blazing on the moors, and firefighters believe them to have been started by arsonists. It’s all hands on deck to fight the fires and the police are called in when items are unearthed that link back to a double missing persons case from two years prior, one that was never solved. Detective Inspector Diane Fry, now working with another department, has been called in to assist, and her relationship with Cooper is tenuous at best. Their rivalry is raised to another level when Fry stumbles across a body in an old abandoned lighthouse that once housed a pub. To make matters worse, once the dead man is identified, he is linked to the unsolved investigation of the missing couple. The dead man was one of the pub patrons who last saw them alive.

As Cooper takes up the cold case, he realizes that he was also at the pub, drinking with friends, on the night the couple disappeared, and he must reconcile his vague memory of events with the new murder investigation. He is unsure if he can trust his own, spotty recollection of the night. While he works on the case, the fires continue to burn, threatening the entire area and its residents.

Booth is skilled at crafting the quintessential British police procedural. I love this genre of detective story because not only is there a mystery to solve, but there is usually a long buried secret as well. The reader is able to follow along and solve the current case, all the while learning about the people in the town. We find that there is a lot under the surface in these small areas of England—at least fictionally—and the way the pieces are unraveled keeps the suspense building and the pace active. This is a great series to read in order, or piece by piece. The mystery is standalone, even if some of the relationships and plot points continue throughout. 

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