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Black Dog Paperback – April 12, 2012

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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 --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 386 pages
  • Publisher: Westlea Books (April 12, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0957237901
  • ISBN-13: 978-0957237902
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (173 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,327,498 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Momo on September 22, 2000
Format: Hardcover
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 By susan wenrick on September 30, 2000
Format: Hardcover
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 By Susan Hartigan on January 16, 2001
Format: Hardcover
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 By Untouchable on September 6, 2001
Format: Hardcover
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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