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The Dead Place Hardcover – May 1, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In the sixth circuitously plotted police procedural from British author Booth (after One Last Breath), Det. Constable Ben Cooper and his boss, Sgt. Diane Fry, pursue a possible serial killer who leaves haunting phone messages—about impending murders, flesh eaters and decomposition—at the Derbyshire police station. Cooper and Fry chase down all sorts of dead ends: a woman who disappears from a local car park, another whose body is found in the woods, and skeletal remains discovered on a hilltop. None of the crimes appears to be the killer's work, but they all may be connected in disjointed ways to a local funeral parlor whose business has dropped off significantly in recent years. Booth's meandering style—lots of subplots and droll diversions—may not be to everyone's liking. Some readers may also be put off by the lack of chemistry between the earnest and bumbling Cooper and the cranky and aloof Fry. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Despite a rather substantial flaw--the author makes the identity of the villain a little too clear, way too early in the story--this is a sharp and engaging mystery. Detective Constable Ben Cooper and his partner, Detective Sergeant Diane Fry, the popular series leads, are up against what could be their wiliest adversary yet: a psychopath who has announced that he intends to commit a murder but won't say where or when. Can Cooper and Fry follow the tangled web of clues and stop the madman? One of the many fascinating things about the novel is that Fry, one of the protagonists, comes off in the beginning as immensely unlikable. The novel's tone is grislier than that of some of the earlier entries in the series, too, following the trend of British crime fiction becoming generally more hard-edged and visceral. Booth is slowly building a reputation as one of Britain's best mystery writers, and his latest won't do anything to stop the momentum. David Pitt
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam (May 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385339062
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385339063
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #239,928 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

At the end I didn't feel as if I had all the answers I needed.
Barbara J. Mitchell
I realized half way thru the book that I had read this author before several years ago ( Nine Virgins) and I hated that book too.
Crime Connoisseur
I love how he makes this area come alive and become another character in the story.
Carol L. Rogers

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By lb136 VINE VOICE on March 2, 2010
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Stephen Booth's ill-assorted pair, DC Cooper and his boss DS Fry, are back in another complicated puzzler that hopefully will intrigue you. There are two cases here, one in which a late-toiling office worker apparently has been kidnapped in a car park near her office, and the other in which the body of a woman thought to have been cremated turns up in a remote area of Derbyshire.

In order to solve the puzzles Fry's boss, DI Hitchens, calls in some experts--a profiler in the first case and a retired professor whose expertise is in the field of thanatology (the study of death and dying) in the second. This pleases Fry (who's something of a know-it-all)less than somewhat.

What makes this novel way more than a run of the mill whodunnit is the author's ability to create a sense of place--he brings the area to life. Maybe you'll smell the smells and hear the sounds. And he has a great ability to create suspense and surprise (fans of Jeffery Deaver would be advised to stop here while they wait for the next Lincoln Rhyme puzzler). One feature of the Cooper-Fry series is the edgy relationship between the two detectives. It can be offputting, and maybe you won't like Fry very much. But it works (for me anyway) in context.

Then, too, you'll learn a lot (maybe more than you want) about funeral homes, cremations, and the like. It's a little upsetting from time to time but really not all that gruesome.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on May 2, 2007
Format: Hardcover
The calls are unnerving as the individual promises soon to begin his "killing will be a model of perfection". The receiver of the frightening calls Detective Superintendent Diane Fry prays some crackpot is making crank calls, but thinks this guy is the real deal that will keep on killing once he starts until he is stopped. Adding to the discomfit of the DS is the fact a woman has reportedly vanished from a nearby office.

At the same time Detective Constable Ben Cooper investigates what happened to the woman whose human bones were recently found in the woods. Electronic facial reconstruction names the victim as Audrey Steele, who officially was cremated 18 months ago. Ben follows the fiery trail until the case turns stranger when an arsonist burns up potential proof as to who was cremated. Soon Ben's inquiry and Diane's preventative endeavor collide.

Don't eat lunch while reading this exciting police procedural as a secondary character go into graphic detail lecturing the cops and readers on human decomposition rates and what happens to bodily fluids in death amongst other icky and yucky (scientific terms for gross) forensic insights. The two prime subplots are well written and fascinating to follow, partially because the respective tour guides, Ben and Diane, are sub-genre unique as they not likable protagonists. The bottom line is those who could stomach high school biology will enjoy this interesting look at the art of studying death.

Harriet Klausner
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Laurie Fletcher VINE VOICE on March 2, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've been a pretty faithful Stephen Booth reader with his ups and downs and this book falls somewhere in the middle. He is one of the best at setting a scene and clearly describing the countryside, but his plots sometimes seem unnecessarily labyrinthine. Oddly enough, in The Dead Place, I had the killer spotted pretty early but it was so obvious that I figured I was wrong and spent nearly the rest of the book homing in on the wrong person. In that sense, the book really was a success because it was enough to make me not trust my instincts. I am getting a little tired of the tension between Fry and Cooper, though. Fry's acid tongue and negativity certainly have potential to adversely influence morale and Cooper seems to be stuck in a rut out of which he only finally emerges toward the end of the book.

On the plus side, the best part of this book is a detailed and completely believable portrait of the world of funeral homes and crematoria. I was absolutely fascinated by the description of a modern embalming, as well as the approach to "mending" and cosmetically enhancing corpses. It could have been sensational or gruesome, but it was presented quite scientifically and without drama.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Elizabethj Miller on March 30, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Never a disapointment, alway's a good story to keep you turning the page's but sorry when I get to the end, enjoy learning about the area of the Peak District and learning there are other part's of G.B beside's London.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ina on June 27, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Neither plot nor characters can hold this one together enough to warrant adding it to author Booth's string of worthy reads. A thin plot without twists or interest: just nasty people doing cheap, low rent, bent brow acts. The oil and water personality clashes of Ben and Diane, which heretofore have been sharp, clever and witty have not only not improved over time but have descended into a hateful, distrustful and jealous (at least on Diane's part) bitter exchange. Not fun anymore!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Srdjan Pesic on September 28, 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback
There are just different tastes in mystery writing among the reviewers of this masterpiece. Some people think that mysteries are airplane reading. Well they are not. For that you should purchase some inane thriller where brave American hero destroys whoever is the villain of the day. Other reviewer doesn't get what the book is about. Well, maybe the not so subtle references on death and afterlife were too subtle after all. People just don't want to take time and slowly unrevel the story. Little patience goes a long way. At the end of this book reward is bountiful.
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