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by Stephen Booth
Harper, April 2009
416 pages
17.99 GBP
ISBN: 0007243456

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Stephen Booth's Peak District series is one with which I've had a love-hate relationship over the years. I've been well and truly hooked by the setting, but have had problems with some of the characterisation particularly the fact that Booth seems to have so few sympathetic female characters.

He must be doing something right, though, as I've never found reviewing the books to be a chore and I think that's mainly down to my fascination for the setting. The Peak District is a remote part of the UK, and one where it often feels like you're going back 20 years when you visit it.

History is never far from the surface in Booth's books, and THE KILL CALL is no exception. This time out the plague village of Eyam plays a key part the place where most of the population was wiped out by the Black Death is now a tourist attraction.

As befits a former journalist, Booth also has a good eye for plot lines which come easily have come from a newspaper story. Here, he very deftly manipulates the debate over fox hunting, alongside a much more surprising angle on horse theft and the meat trade.

The book revolves around the discovery of a body of a well-dressed man on a remote bit of moorland. But then an anonymous caller reports the same body lying half a mile away.

As usual, the investigation allows DS Diane Fry and DC Ben Cooper to rub each other up the wrong way and to misunderstand each other for 400+ pages. Diane is even more of an outsider than ever, and spends a chunk of the book wondering if she really is suited to working in what feels to her like a foreign land.

The scene setting is as good as ever, but the book itself is rather unengaging, which is not something you can usually accuse Booth of. Part of it is, I'm sure, down to the fact that there's only so far you can take a chalk and cheese relationship and I'm wondering how long it will before Booth reaches that point.

Reviewed by Sharon Wheeler, October 2009

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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