BLACK DOG by Stephen Booth

Black Dog by Stephen Booth  is on Tour October 8 – November 8, 2013 with Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours. You will find my review of the book below along with an excerpt from the book.


StephenBoothStephen 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 twelve 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 DEAD AND BURIED, with a new book, ALREADY DEAD, published in June 2013.


Book Details:

Genre: Fiction/Crime
Published by: Witness / HarperCollins
Publication Date: 10/8/2013
ISBN: 9780062301963
Series: 1st in the Ben Cooper & Diane Fry Series
Purchase Links: AMAZON  BARNES & NOBLE 


The helicopters are halted. The search for fifteen-year-old Laura Vernon ends when her body is found, murdered, in the forest.81susFz2ihL._SL1500_

On his hunt for the killer, detective Ben Cooper begins to suspect the people of Derbyshire are guarding some dark secrets-secrets that Laura might have known. Further complicating his investigation, Cooper is paired with an unfamiliar partner: Diane Fry, a woman as tenacious as she is alluring. Together they learn that in order to understand the town’s present, they must unearth its past.

Black Dog is like Twin Peaks by way of Tana French, and the first novel in the multiple award-winning Cooper and Fry series.


There are few things more enjoyable than a good British Police Procedural. BLACK DOG by Stephen Booth was the first in the Cooper and Fry series first published in 2000 and now being re-released. I was really looking forward to it. Now you will hear me say something I rarely say, because I have a policy of not writing negative reviews but I had signed on to this tour, I didn’t like the book at all. I know it won all kinds of awards. The series as a whole has won a lot of praise, it is even supposed to be in development as a TV series. So I am obviously in the minority. The writing itself is technically excellent. It was the plot and characters that left me cold. Other than the fact Cooper seems to have a lot of issues and Fry is ambitious, I didn’t feel I had gotten to know these two characters at all. And for partners, they spent very little time actually working together.  Cooper was supposedly the golden boy and up for promotion. He comes to work a couple of times looking a bit disheveled and the decision is made that he won’t be promoted. What? I happen to come from a family of cops and that his commanding officer would not have looked into what was wrong does not ring true (his mother had just been hospitalized with Schizophrenia), particularly as his father was a much loved member of the department killed in the line of duty two years earlier and Cooper was number one on the promotion list. Right. Like he would suddenly be pushed aside – if nepotism hadn’t gotten him the promotion the union would have. You do get a good sense of the parents of the victim but they will obviously not be recurring characters. The best drawn character in the book was Harry Dickinson, the old man whose dog found the victim’s sneaker which led to her body being found. Some authors say they know whodunit before they write the book. Others say they know only as the story evolves. I could not help but feel the author reached a certain word count, nothing had come to him, so he said better cobble something together. Keep in mind, the series has continued on and is now on the thirteenth book, so he must be doing something right, but I can only give this ♥♥♥

POSTSCRIPT: I brought this up in a readers group. A good many said they were not crazy about the series at first but it grew on them. All seemed to agree they did not like the character of Diane Fry, however. But perhaps we aren’t supposed to like her. There was universal agreement they did like Ben Cooper after the first book.

Read an excerpt:

The spot where Ben Cooper stood was remote and isolated. A passing walker wouldn’t have been able to see him up here among the bracken, even if he’d bothered to look up.Cooper turned round, wafting his hand across his face against the flies. He was looking through the trees and thick brambles as if towards the end of a dark tunnel, where the figure of Harry Dickinson was framed in a network of branches. Cooper had to squint against a patch of dazzling light that soaked the hillside in strong colours. The old man stood in the glare of the low sun, with hot rocks shimmering around him like a furnace. The haze of heat made his outline blur and writhe, as if he were dancing a slow shimmy. His shadow, flung across the rocks, seemed to wriggle and jerk as its shape fragmented among the bracken and brambles.

The expression in Harry’s eyes was unreadable, his face lying partly in the shade from the peak of his cap. Cooper couldn’t even tell which way he was looking, whether he’d turned away or was staring directly towards him in the trees. He wanted to grab the old man by the shoulders and shake him. He wanted to tell him that somebody had disturbed this spot, and recently. The evidence was right there for anyone to see, and to smell.

There had been two people here, and at least one of them had been looking for more than just rabbits. The smell that lingered under the trees was of stale blood. And the flies had found something even more attractive than Cooper’s sweat to feed on.


Published by Kate Eileen Shannon

Artist, Crafter, Writer, purveyor of ephemera and bagatelle

6 thoughts on “BLACK DOG by Stephen Booth

  1. Kudos to you, Kate Eileen Shannon. It’s good to know that you have the moral fiber to only give honest reviews. I think that’s a rare quality. My hat is off to you!


    1. I’ll be honest, usually I would not post, there are many I read and don’t post, but I had booked the tour. And I figure his books are a big success so my review won’t hurt him. Just my opinion and it was his first book, it’s a rerelease, so I may find the rest of the series to be great.


  2. I personally loved the book, but I agree with you on all counts. I gave it four stars and the parts that killed it for me were exactly what you pointed out. I still did not like Fry at the end. I am waiting till next month to get book two. They will be re-released one a month till next August. I had a lot of fun reviewing, but it took me a LOT as in 30% of the book to get into it due to Fry’s attitude and our lack of knowing what really was going on and Cooper’s boss not even looking into what was going on. How interesting!


  3. Hi, Kate Eileen. I’m really sorry the book didn’t work for you. But one thing I’ve learned is that every reader is different! I appreciate you giving BLACK DOG the space on your blog anyway. And you should never be afraid to be honest, no matter what. 🙂


    1. Thanks very much for that. It is hard for me to give less that glowing reviews. It was well written, there were just some things that didn’t work for me. And those don’t matter as I am obviously in the very small minority. I have been assured I will love the series as it goes on and I do intend to read the rest of it.


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