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Black Dog (Ben Cooper & Diane Fry Book 1) [Kindle Edition]

Stephen Booth
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (173 customer reviews)

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Book Description

‘Where Cooper stood was remote and isolated… but the smell that lingered under the trees was of blood'

It's been a long, hot summer in England's beautiful Peak District national park. But summer comes to an end when the body of missing teenager Laura Vernon is found.

For young police detective Ben Cooper, the work has just begun. His community is hiding a young girl's killer, and a past as dark as the Derbyshire night. It seems Laura was the keeper of secrets beyond her years and, in a case where no-one is innocent, everyone is a suspect.

But Cooper's local knowledge and instincts are about to face an even greater challenge. The ambitious DC Diane Fry has been transferred from a nearby city, a woman as ruthless as she is attractive…

"Dark, intense and utterly compelling", Black Dog is an extraordinary first novel from a writer who has rapidly become one of the UK's most successful crime writers.

Winner of the Barry Award for Best British Crime Novel of the Year, finalist for the Anthony Award for Best First Mystery.

Stephen Booth is a winner of the CWA Dagger in the Library "for the author whose books have given readers most pleasure". DC Ben Cooper was a finalist for the Sherlock Award for the best detective created by a British author.

"Suspenseful and supremely engaging. Booth does a wonderful job." - Los Angeles Times
"Stephen Booth makes high summer in Derbyshire as dark and terrifying as midwinter." - Val McDermid, award-winning crime novelist
"Simultaneously classic, contemporary and haunting." - Mysterious Bookshop, New York
"A brilliant writer who gets everything - atmosphere, character, plot - just right. This book took my breath away." - Black Orchid Bookshop, New York
"Black Dog sinks its teeth into you and doesn't let you go. A dark star is born!"
- Reginald Hill, creator of the Dalziel and Pasco series
"Black Dog is an exceedingly good first novel. Wholly engrossing." - London Evening Standard
"Terrific... an atmospheric, psychological stunner." - The Bookseller magazine
"Booth has achieved a tour de force in his first outing. If I were to assign a star to the elements of plot, characterization, pace, dialog and setting, Booth would get five stars, hands down." - Maddy Van Hertbruggen, Mystery Books
"Flawless in construction and pace, Black Dog is a gem that takes Booth, with one bound, into the front rank of British crime writers." - Nottingham Evening Post
"Intelligent and substantive crime fiction, rich with complex characters." - Library Journal
"Stephen Booth has firmly joined the elite of Britain's top mystery writers." - Florida Sun-Sentinel
"Crime fiction for the thinking man or woman, and damnably hard to put down." - January Magazine
"Highly recommended - a great series!" - Seattle Mystery Bookstore

Editorial Reviews Review

A neat little psychological thriller in the Barbara Vine tradition, debut novelist Stephen Booth's smart, spare suspense story introduces Detective Constable Ben Cooper, an up-and-coming English policeman who fears he'll never be able to fill the shoes of his father, a police sergeant who died a hero's death on the job in Ben's own precinct. Diane Fry, Ben's new partner, is an ambitious woman who's just been transferred to the Edendale force. She's jealous of Ben's familiarity with the locals, who won't tell her anything but treat Ben like a beloved son. The pair is teamed up to investigate the brutal murder of a 15-year-old girl whose parents, like Fry, are outsiders. The old man who finds Laura Vernon's body is an enigmatic, close-mouthed man who obviously knows more than he's telling, but even Ben can't budge Harry Dickinson from his determination to keep the real story of what happened in the dark woods of England's brooding Peak District to himself. Laura's father is anxious to pin the crime on a local boy who may have had sexual designs on her and who's conveniently gone missing. But the search for the killer turns up the dark secrets of the Vernons as well as a number of other suspects who keep Ben and Diane guessing until the last page of this well-written, carefully paced, and deeply atmospheric novel. A strong first showing from a writer worth watching, with a protagonist who'd be good company in a return engagement. --Jane Adams

From Publishers Weekly

The cryptic activities of eccentric, uncooperative murder suspect Harry Dickinson add depth to this intriguing first-time offering, a psychological suspense story from a British journalist. Dickinson is one of a triad of macabre old men who haunt the woods and countryside near Edendale in northern England's Peak District. Out walking his black Labrador one sweltering August evening, the retired miner finds a running shoe belonging to Laura Vernon, a 15-year-old reported missing from her mansion on the Mount. Investigating the case is a promising young local detective, Ben Cooper, whose heart is set on a sergeant's post also sought by the Edendale Police Division's icy new up-and-comer, Diane Fry. Personal troublesDCooper's mentally ill mother and memories of his heroic cop father's murder, and Fry's dim recollection of past terrorsDdistract the two from their work, but somehow they patch together a case, sexual tension building between them all the while. The list of suspects, including Dickinson and Laura's wealthy father, Graham Vernon, grows to include the Vernons' gardener and Mrs. Vernon's young lover; Laura's biker boyfriend; and a few business associates of the Vernons'. Cooper is sickened to learn that Vernon's male and female co-workers and clients of his financial consultancy business were often invited to the Mount for orgiesDand that a few may have included Laura. But Cooper, too, is demonstrating increasingly unprofessional behavior, which costs him dearly and deprives Fry of her promotion. Only his brother Matt understands that Cooper may be suffering from the mental "black dog" of his mother's schizophrenia. The leisurely pace and Dickinson's philosophical conversations with his friends on loyalty, death and television detective shows may disappoint readers of fast moving crime fiction, but Booth's intention here, at which he succeeds admirably, is to unveil secret lives against the seemingly placid background of a country village.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 689 KB
  • Print Length: 388 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0957237901
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Westlea Books (March 13, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007KTDH0E
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #738,950 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Remarkable First Novel September 22, 2000
By Momo
Stephen Booth is a new British author and "Black Dog" is his first novel. It is set in England, in the Peak District, an area known for hiking and overrun by tourists in the summer.
Laura Vernon, aged 15, of Moorhay Village disappears and foul play is suspected. The police launch a search, but it is a villager who turns up the first real evidence. Laura Vernon's family had only recently moved to the area and does not blend in well with their neighbors. And there seems to be something else no one is willing to talk about.
DCs Diane Fry and Ben Cooper are part of the investigating police force. Diane had only recently transferred to the district, Ben is the local boy, "Sergeant Cooper's lad", trying to live up to the shining example his father set. Both are competing for a promotion and there is more to both of them than meets the eye. The interaction between these two is what makes up most of this book's charm. Stephen Booth does a very good job here to portray two very different characters and to show how deceiving appearances can be.
This is not your usual police procedural. There is a lot more to the book than just an investigation and a criminal. The solution to the mystery is almost secondary and, to be honest, feels a bit rushed. It is the two main characters that drive the book. You get to know them very well and I would love to read more about them.
I highly recommend this book. Fans of psychological mysteries like Minette Walters' will not be disappointed.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars SOMETHING for the JADED READER September 30, 2000
I loved this book, because it gave me something that's been missing in a lot of recent Crime Novels. It has a setting that you are led into with incredible skill, one that reminds me of Sherlock Holmes novels set in the country. The second amazing part of this book, that kept me reading with such enjoyment, were the characters. Stephen Booth has created people that feel real, have unexpected flaws and strengths, and who you can't wait for the next time you meet. I am looking forward to the next book because there is real talent here.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Black Dog" January 16, 2001
Black Dog 5 stars (plus)
Black Dog is one of the most amazing books that I have read in a very long time.
Stephen Booth's characters come alive on the first page and only get better as you go through the book to the last page. He actually takes you through the entire story making you feel as if you are there. And the people are real.
Laura Vernon is missing. An innocent, well liked, quiet, and well mannered 15 year old girl, according to some. To others, who seemed to know her better, quite wild.
As the helicopters fly overhead, and the police look desperately for this young girl, an old man sits on a rock, at the edge of the dark woods of England's brooding Peak District, watching and listening to the activity overhead. Suddenly his black Labrador, Jess, comes running up with something in her mouth.
From this minute on you will not be able to put this book down. The object that Jess retrieves takes you into the lives of everyone in the village. Secrets are divulged that have been hidden for years. Just when you figure you have this whole story figured out, you are led down another path. And then another.
Stephen Booth has written a story that will grab you, and not let you go. The only thing bad about this book is that you don't want it to end. You want to know more about the people, their lives and what will happen to them. You will defiantly have "The black dog's on your back". And you will not want it any other way.
Susan Hartigan Riverside, California USA
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Remarkable Debut September 6, 2001
In Stephen Booth's debut novel, we are taken to the Peak District of England. It's in this setting that a 15-year-old girl, Laura Vernon, has gone missing only to be found later, murdered. She is from a wealthy family who are new to the district, and so are known as `comers-in' by the locals, meaning they will consequently be treated as outsiders. It is because of this that the locals are not particularly helpful when questioned by the police.
The beginning of the book is very reminiscent of A Place of Execution by Val McDermid. In both books a young girl is missing from a small rural community, the locals are not particularly helpful with the police and the detectives working on the case are young with their eyes cast to furthering their career.
Mystery not only surrounds the murder of Laura Vernon, many of the integral characters in the book are harbouring secrets. The main character, DC Ben Cooper is dealing with his mother's schizophrenia, his new partner DC Diane Fry has just arrived in Edendale and has brought personal problems of her own. Laura Vernon's parents are both harbouring secrets that they are keen not to let out and Harry Dickenson, the man who found Laura, is being very close-lipped as well. Even Laura Vernon herself was leading a secret life that would have shocked her parents had they found out.
The surrounding Derbyshire countryside of the beautiful Peak District is described with exceptional clarity giving us an insight into countryside that must be simply breathtaking to behold. Although not being overly dwelt on, scene after scene is given a wonderful backdrop of the surrounding land, which gave me a strong sense of actually being there.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars but a good thriller with a good plot just the same
A little slow moving at times, but a good thriller with a good plot just the same.
Published 13 days ago by Shana Adams
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Great story, great characters. Looking forward to reading the next Cooper & Fry mystery.
Published 17 days ago by Patricia Raymond
3.0 out of 5 stars I'm on the fence.....
I gave it two stars, then three - twice. This book was all about character development, very little about story. I prefer more balance. BUT I did finish it, so that's something. Read more
Published 18 days ago by Beverly Crosby
3.0 out of 5 stars The Black Dog - Are You Sure?
The plot has many twists and turns along with melodramatic character developments of the investigating team. The plot is thoughtful and well developed with many subplots. Read more
Published 1 month ago by John Willacker
5.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed this book
I enjoyed this book. Right up to the end I didn't see who did it. I recommend it very much.
Published 1 month ago by Francis Monahan
3.0 out of 5 stars but they are not nearly as good as The Shetland Mysteries
I started this series after finishing Ann Cleeves' Shetland Mysteries, so maybe it's unfair to compare the two writers. Read more
Published 1 month ago by V. Cuevas
5.0 out of 5 stars Read the whole series; you won't regret it!
I have now read 13 books in this series, IN A ROW, BACK TO BACK. They are that good. Stephen Booth's deep sense of place (England's Peak District) and his complex, sympathetic... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Jaye
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed this book.
I am a huge fan of British mysteries. I enjoyed this one very much. Had to deduct a star for some unnecessary americanizations: e.g. Read more
Published 2 months ago by SCguy
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldnt put down!
Liked it so much that I bought more of his books right away. I prefer English/Irish/Scottish/Welsh detective stories to American ones.
Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars nice long read with excellent plot twists
This is the first book on the Cooper & Fry series. I was glad to find out more of both police officer's back stories since I started reading them out of order. Read more
Published 3 months ago by C. Bender
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More About the Author

Stephen Booth is an award winning British crime writer, the creator of two young Derbyshire police detectives, DC Ben Cooper and DS Diane Fry, who have appeared in thirteen novels set in England's beautiful and atmospheric Peak District.

Stephen has been a Gold Dagger finalist, an Anthony Award nominee, twice winner of a Barry Award for Best British Crime Novel, and twice shortlisted for the Theakston's Crime Novel of the Year. Ben Cooper was a finalist for the Sherlock Award for the best detective created by a British author, and in 2003 the Crime Writers' Association presented Stephen with the Dagger in the Library Award for "the author whose books have given readers the most pleasure".

The Cooper & Fry series is published all around the world, and has been translated into 15 languages. The latest title is ALREADY DEAD, published in June 2013.

The series so far:

There's also a Ben Cooper novella:

In the USA, the new HarperCollins digital imprint Witness Impulse will re-launch the Cooper and Fry series in October 2013, starting with the first book, BLACK DOG:

Described as "Dark, intense and utterly compelling" and "Simultaneously classic, contemporary and haunting," BLACK DOG will be available in all ebook formats, including Kindle:

Witness Impulse will then release one or more Cooper and Fry novels every month until August 2014.


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