Black Dog, by Stephen Booth

Stephen Booth is one of the authors I’ve recently discovered who set their fiction in my former home county of Derbyshire.

Black Dog is his first book, introducing locally born Detective Constable Ben Cooper, and DC Diane Fry, newly transferred to rural North Derbyshire from the city of Birmingham.

The search for a missing teenage girl ends when the discovery of her shoe leads police to her partially naked body. The resulting investigation into her murder unravels interlocking webs of secrets within the community and relationships between family, friends and work colleagues become increasingly complicated, adding to the uncertainty around the killing.

One thing that I liked about this book was how easy I found it “see” some of the characters and “hear” their voices – complete with appropriate Derbyshire accent.

The title of the book is significant in a few ways. Firstly through its colloquial definition associated with depression; secondly through the importance of dark canines within he story, and also through folkloric associations, where Black Shuck is a phantom dog associated with an impending death.

 
Like many of the “crime” books I’ve read recently, this book is about far more than the solving of a murder. The interaction between characters and the development of relationships between them, in particular between Detectives Cooper and Fry, adds to the interest. Each of them has their own secrets and personal “Black Dogs” to deal with.

 

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