I read recently that this series featuring Diane Fry and Ben Cooper, two police detectives in Derbyshire, England, is popular in Canada. It’s nice to know I’m amongst much company. But I’m not surprised. This is British to the core but not in a stereotypical way. Instead the characters are nuanced, they grow from book to book, they create conflict through their personality quirks and because of their past history. There is never a dull moment in any of these books so far, including The Dead Place. However, at one point in this book, I was getting a tad annoyed (and distracted from the story) with Fry’s constant anger. She seems to be in a snarky, irritable mood all the time in this series, always looking for the wrong way to look at things. It’s wearing, and her detective skills are at odds with that kind of emotionalism. But just as I was about to be turned off by her attitude enough to close the book, Stephen Booth switched it up, and I once more became engrossed in the plot and the characters.
It is a long read, which in this case is a good thing. There are some characters that you just want to stay with for a long time, and Cooper and Fry and their ever-eating colleague Gavin Murfin, fit the bill.
When Booth revealed whodunnit, I have to admit I was confused. This is why many authors have wrap-up scenes — to unconfuse those of us who get lost. Booth’s wrap-up is more than just an explanation though; it’s a continuation of the relationship between the police detectives and an exploration of the characters affected by the crime. Sometimes one gets lost because the author is trying to be too clever and leaves out crucial details as a way to prevent the reader from solving the mystery. But here it’s more that the story has so many threads that come together in a tighter and tighter weave that you need to be able to hold it all in your memory. I wasn’t able to. Still, I enjoyed the challenge, and I enjoyed the story. It’s well worth spending a few hours with.