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by Stephen Booth
Sphere, June 2012
448 pages
6.99 GBP
ISBN: 0751545643

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

The Peak District itself is as much of a character in this series as the police officers and other folks who people its pages. The Devil's Edge of the title is a brooding limestone escarpment that looms over a small village, casting a shadow over its inhabitants as the latest in a series of brutal burglaries in the area leaves a woman dead on her kitchen floor and her husband badly injured while their children are upstairs in the house.

Newly-promoted Detective Sergeant Ben Cooper isn't convinced that the latest attack is the work of The Savages, as the press have dubbed the gang who have been operating in the area. Working alongside DS Diane Fry, Cooper has to dig deeply into the relationships in the village to get at the truth that lies beneath surface. But at the same time, Cooper's life is thrown into turmoil from a very different direction when his brother shoots an intruder on his isolated farm.

Booth evokes a skilful picture of life in a relatively isolated community made up of very diverse individuals. Incomers are viewed with suspicion and inevitably there is at least one person in the village who makes it his business to know everyone else's affairs and in the village of Riddings, Barry Gamble is that man. Gamble is in many ways the spider in the middle of a complex web and Cooper has to do his best to untangle the strands tying everything and everyone together while also dealing with his own problems.

THE DEVIL'S EDGE is an engrossing and competent police procedural, peopled with realistic characters that never descend too far into cliché of stereotype. The landscape acts as the glue that holds the story together and Booth's strength lies very much in the sense of place his books evoke. Both Cooper and Fry are engaging characters in their own right and the host of minor players in the story are equally well depicted.

§ Linda Wilson is a writer, and retired solicitor, with an interest in archaeology and cave art, who now divides her time between England and France.

Reviewed by Linda Wilson, June 2012

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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