Blood on the Tongue, Stephen Booth

It was one of the worst sounds you could ever hear – the ticking of a clock in an empty house after its owner had died. It was a reminder that the world would carry on just the same after you had gone

blood on the tongue

This is the third book featuring DC Ben Cooper and DS Diane Fry .

The author had this to say about his main characters in an interview not long after the release of the book:

Ben Cooper is the local lad, born and raised in the Peak District. He is from a farming background, but his father was a police sergeant, a local hero, whose mantel Ben has inherited, somewhat reluctantly. Everyone knows him, and he understands the minds of the local people. Diane Fry, on the other hand, is an outsider, who has arrived from a big city force. She is ambitious, not really interested in establishing new friendships, but in advancing her career. I suppose there is some gender role reversal, as Ben is the sensitive, intuitive one who cares about the people he comes across in his job, while Diane is much tougher and hard-edged. The relationship between the two of them surprised me a little as it developed.

In Blood on the Tongue, wartime and present day mysteries are woven together within the northern Derbyshire landscape. The “tongue” in the title is Irontongue Hill, the location of past and present tragedies.

A snowplough crew uncover the body of an unidentified man while they are clearing a mountain pass. What link is there between his murder and the crash of a Lancaster bomber during the second world war and the discovery 50 years later of a woman’s  body in sight of the plane’s remaining wreckage?

This book has a lot of elements that appeal to me: character relationships are as important as the plot development, the location is vividly portrayed and plays an important part of the story, and a strong mix of history and folklore blend with events of the present day. It is excellent story telling, increasing in complexity as the story develops, until several strands of seemingly unrelated events draw together into a logical and satisfying resolution.

I loved it.

Continuing my recent practice, I’m including this song from Bella Hardy from Edale, Derbyshire; only a few miles from the setting of the book. The images of scenery from that area are by Paul Pearson.

An interview with Stephen Booth, conducted just after the publication of Blood on the Tongue (the quote near the beginning of this post comes from the interview).

2 thoughts on “Blood on the Tongue, Stephen Booth

  1. Very nice music and interesting scenery.

    Poignant quote about the clock, too.

    To me, it’s too surreal to describe that the world goes on like nothing happened after my dad died. I’ve just had my first birthday since that day. I’m thinking I’ll get my sons together for his birthday to remember him. I’ve heard of people getting together on the anniversaries of a death, but I don’t want to do that.

    This particular book sounds like I might like to read it right now. We’ve been having snow, and I’ve been rather lethargic due to a flu. Yet I’d appreciate settling into the cozy, stay-inside weather in a bookwormier way. It could also be helpful to be transported into thinking processes with better values than currently demonstrated in the real world in my country [too many Americans are too embarrassing and hurtful].

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