==Synopsis of the book:==
The Derbyshire Police are being taunted by a mystery caller who leaves messages about his or her intention to kill. The messages are very detailed and the caller who has used a machine so that the Police can't even tell their gender seems to know a lot about death and what happens to the body after you die. The problem is these messages are left from Public call boxes and by the time the Police have traced the call the caller had disappeared.
Detective Sergeant Diane Fry and Detective Constable Ben Cooper now have the task of trying to catch this intelligent but unstable person before they commit a crime. For Fry it reminds her of her first case back in the Midlands that still haunts her, but for Cooper it is an opportunity to impress with his knowledge and superior intellect. Meanwhile they are still investigating the discovery of a body of a women found after laying undisturbed for 18 months only to find the woman was seemingly cremated around that time. Are they looking at the first case in the region of body snatching?
=My thoughts on the novel:==
I thought this was a good well thought out crime thriller. It was longer than I may have liked and I do think this author does tend to get a bit carried away in the detail and as a result you get a very complete picture but one that seems to move quite slowly and you sometimes feel the story is not developing and going very far very quickly. That said I still enjoyed this one because it was so different from the run of the mill crime novels on the market.
When I say this it is because in most thrillers the murder has already been committed. But in this one the Detectives where trying to find the mysterious caller by the clues he or she left in their phone messages. So they where bringing in experts and using local knowledge to try and prevent a murder. I found this angle very interesting and enjoyed how the investigating Team tried to piece together and understand exactly what the caller was telling them.
I have read several crime thrillers written by Englishman Stephen Booth. So far there have been twelve stories in the Fry and Cooper series. This story is the sixth and was written in 2005. I have probably now read half a dozen of these and I think its fair to say I like the author's style of writing and in particular the characters he had created in this series. Although as I have already advised above I do think the author should concentrate more on the story as I do feel these stories can be a bit pedestrian and you as the reader need patience to wait and see what is going to happen.
This is a book I selected because I wanted a good crime mystery and that is exactly what I got. All these stories so far I have enjoyed without feeling they where setting the world alight with the story, it is more a fascinating read and a real mystery that needs to be resolved. So when I discovered this book at the Charity Shop I knew I should buy it and felt with some justification that I would enjoy it.
The first thing that attracted me was the unusual title of the book. It had me intrigued and I liked the idea of this 'dead place'. So I checked the summary of the story, this although only two paragraphs talked in some detail about this mysterious and sick caller talking about bodies decomposing. I thought this sounded interesting and I must admit I wanted to know more about the sort of person who would do this, why and see how the Police would go about catching them.
As soon as I started reading the story I was immediately involved in the mystery of this caller. And while an prologue would have been nice because of the length of the story and the fact this is part of a series it was not really necessary. I soon started enjoying the story as the messages from the caller where very detailed and complex and I enjoyed trying to work out exactly what was meant by them. It was like putting all the clues together to find the place where the body could be, with the Police pitting their skills against this macabre person. Not knowing if these calls where genuine and whether a murder had or would happen or if this person was just a practical joker.
It was such an unusual story and from that perspective I really enjoyed it. Although I did feel the story could have done with a bit more excitement as it appeared to be a hard slog for the Detectives to get anywhere with this case. I was very pleased the other story about body snatching was brought in as this again was unusual and I enjoyed the background to it. It was easier is some ways to get a grip off because there was a body and something to really go on, rather than trying to find this Dead Place from the ranting of a sick individual with a interest in death.
Both stories where well thought out and brought in a number of characters who could have been involved in the mysteries. And with them running parallel if you did not like one it moved between them at regular intervals so that you would soon be back with the other one. The only thing I did think about the mystery caller story was it did take a long time to find the answers and the clues where very complex and thus some might find it dull as even the Police needed to bring in experts in the field to try and discover what the caller was referring too. I found some of the terms hard to pronounce let alone understand what they meant!!
The pace of the two stories was quite slow and only towards the end of it did it pick up and for about the first time there was excitement and action. As before the story had been so shrouded in mystery as to almost blind it. I am all for mystery but you do need some action as well and until towards the end I felt the story lacked it and was the poorer because of it.
I really enjoy the two leading characters in this series. First there is Detective Sergeant Diane Fry, I think she is an amazing character because there is so much in her past that you need to understand to feel you know her personality. And the author is so clever at only sharing of her background so you really want to know more about her and her unfortunate experiences. She is likeable but not much more as she will react and do things against other people notable the ones that work for her that doesn't endear her to you. Yet when writing from her perspective you can see why she is feeling and reacting as she does and why her motives can be misunderstand by others.
When I read the first in this series I thought as Fry and Cooper started of disliking and distrusting each other that soon they would end up being really good together and being either best of friends or lovers, but five books later I am still waiting for this to happen. Their relationship is complex and only on occasions do they bring out the best in each other, more often they are working against one another and thinking the worse of their colleague. I really enjoy the way the author shares details of these two personalities private life as there is always important things happening here that influence how they feel about themselves and the world in general. This breaks up the story well and I find I always enjoy these excurtations as I will learn more about them these complex characters.
The second character is DC Ben Cooper. I find him very easy to like and respect as unlike Fry he doesn't seem to have the demons that she has. He is a hard working and enthusiastic member of the team who unlike Fry has grown up in this region of Derbyshire, he knows the area well and in many respects such as these he is opposite from her with totally different viewpoint of life in this part of the world. I enjoy there interactions as I never know if it will be good or bad as there is always so much suspicion between the two of them and to achieve even the simplest task would be practically impossible.
For me this was one of the weakest stories in a fascinating series, simple because the two stories although very different and quite unique for me where too slow. I felt I needed more excitement especially as this was a long story. It was as ever well written with a good mixture of work and home life within the story, but one I felt that could and should have been told in a shorter format with more emphasis on solving the mystery not chasing their own tails.
Although I didn't enjoy this crime mystery as much as I have previous stories I would still recommend this as a thought provoking and interesting read. For me there was so much mystery in the story but it was let down by the slow pace of the two stories. What always makes these stories is the wonderful stars within it. I always enjoy their relationship and the way they work together be it good or bad.
Year first published: 2005
More about the author: www.stephen-booth.com
Thanks for reading my review.
This review is published under my user name on both Ciao and Dooyoo.
© CPTDANIELS May 2012.