I’ve been to raid my local library for inspiration, while it’s still there. In these uncertain times, I need to borrow as many books as I can for free (or rather, for my taxes) before it’s too late. So that’s why I’ve just read the 11th in Stephen Booth’s Cooper and Fry series, without having read any of its predecessors.
Booth has a good eye and ear for the realities of modern English country life, with all evils attributed to the nearest large city, and sets “The Devil’s Edge” in a scenic Peak District village – so scenic that only the very wealthy, or very long-standing resident, can afford to live there. It’s a world of isolation rather than community spirit, and a series of violent break-ins do nothing to draw the villagers closer together.
It’s difficult coming late to the party, as it were, and the allusions to previous novels, often in the form of mysterious hints, do little to alleviate the sense of exclusion. A few more paragraphs on Cooper and Fry, or a “New Readers Start Here” introduction, might have helped me warm to the investigators. Nevertheless, this is competently done, the pace rarely flags, and Diane Fry’s exile to the world of strategy lectures provides a few moments of humour. Liked but didn’t love. I felt I’d had one of those dates where you say, “It’s not you, it’s me.”
I see Booth is relaunching the entire series as e-books for the US market. Maybe I need to come in at the beginning, but given I have another 12 to go (he’s written 13 so far), it would need a bit more commitment than I’m really prepared to give after a first date. Maybe later in the year.
Looking forward to the 100th Midsummer Murders tomorrow night, with members of the cast of The Killing and Borgen, to appeal to the Scandi market (Midsummer is huu-uge in Scandinavia).
And in other news, congratulations to Simon Brett for winning the CWA Diamond Dagger. I may have to revisit the Sussex coast shortly for one of his Fethering novels.