Officers were explaining patiently to distraught mothers that it was impossible for somebody who had been missing for only twenty-four hours to have been reduced to a skeleton in that time, no matter how badly they’d been eating recently.
After enjoying Blood on the Tongue so much, I wanted to head straight into the next of Stephen Booth’s Cooper and Fry books, but found the early chapters surprisingly hard going.
The previous book’s build up was increasingly rewarding right up to the final, satisfying resolution of its many varied story threads. Starting this one so soon afterwards was like having to immediately prepare for another journey. I think the “hard going” was a result of having to become familiar with another itinerary and some different travelling companions before the glow of a previous, well-loved trip has subsided.
Blind to the Bones includes the disappearance of a young woman who went missing two years previously; a case with significance to DC Fry whose sister vanished during her teens.
The young woman’s mobile phone is found not long before her former housemate is found murdered on the Derbyshire moors. Is there a connection between the two?
Again Booth weaves elements of folk customs landscape and community issues into his stories. In this book the Derbyshire practice of well-dressing is featured. He also introduces Morris dancing, although in a more brutal, industrial age form than the more familiar prancing, waving and rattling version that I had been more familiar with – having seen practitioners of that in the market place of my childhood home town prior to moving to Australia.
Investigations into the girl’s disappearance and her housemate’s murder aren’t made easy by the families involved, one resisting and avoiding the police as much as possible, the other going to the other extreme, always seeking attention.
Family complications also bring challenges to work relationships among the investigating police, putting pressure on already tenuous friendships. How far should a workmate get involved in a colleague’s family difficulties?
The tensions between DC Cooper and DC Fry continue in this book. To date every one step towards resolution is followed by two steps back. Booth has now written seventeen of his Cooper and Fry series. Blind to the Bones is the 4th, still early in the sequence of events, so that tension can be maintained with a degree of justification. However, I’m hoping there will be some kind of change through subsequent books, a sustainable progression, and not a constant continuation of the same or similar attitudes.