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Booth, Stephen - 'Dead and Buried'
Hardback: 384 pages (June 2012) Publisher: Sphere ISBN: 1847444814

Detective Sergeant Ben Cooper was born and bred in the Peak District of Derbyshire and remains very proud of his birthplace. He and his partner, Liz, are planning their wedding and his mind and time and taken up with the increasingly expensive preparations.

The moors are always a potentially hazardous place but the recent spate of fires are making them even more treacherous. The fire fighters ask for a police investigation into the causes of the fires which they believe are being set deliberately, and while Ben is on the moor, the fire fighters find remains of a burial with links to two people, the Pearsons, reported missing two years previously.

Detective Sergeant Diane Fry, who previously worked with Ben in the local force, has been promoted to the Major Crimes Unit and is asked to liaise with the local force in the investigation of the find. Ben finds her still as distant and as unfathomable as she had always been with an added habit of patronising the local force personnel. While on the moor, Diane thinks she sees a figure running in the smoke and decides to investigate the nearest buildings - a landmark pub - the Lighthouse - now empty and ready to be auctioned off. However, when she enters the now nearly derelict pub, she finds a body.

The Major Crimes Unit take over the new murder investigation, leaving the follow up of the finds relating to the Pearsons' disappearance to Ben and his team. Ben soon begins to wonder if the investigations are linked when the body is identified as a witness in the disappearance case, but there is still no evidence to prove whether the Pearsons staged it to avoid prosecution for fraud or whether the moor had claimed two more victims. Diane prefers to work alone, not valuing local knowledge of the area or the people but finds out the hard way that it is necessary to listen and to share information.

Even though the book opens with a very compelling scene, I found the story slow to start but it was worth the effort in the end as it is an enjoyable read. It wasn't as predictable as I thought it was going to be with a couple of good twists at the end. The Derbyshire countryside in all its beauty and the many problems facing people living in rural areas are well described, including the constraints, losses and gains caused by amalgamating rural police forces to save money.

Susan White, England
June 2012

Details of the author's other books with links to reviews can be found on the Books page.
More European crime fiction reviews can be found on the Reviews page.

last updated 24/06/2012 09:31