After reading mysteries of varying quality by writers unknown to me, it was a pleasure — a comforting, familiar pleasure — to pick up where I had left off in Stephen Booth’s Cooper and Fry series several months ago. I devoured it.
Then I lay back, somnolent from total satiation. That can be the only reason I took so long to write this review, for the book is good. In the previous books in this series, there had been much about Fry’s or Cooper’s personal stories woven throughout the mysteries, with angst and unhappy feelings dominating Fry’s story. It was a relief that this book concentrated on the mysteries, with only a sliver of personal story. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy learning about these characters, what shaped them, how they came to be in Edendale, it’s that it was time for a change-up and a lessening of the angst.
The mysteries themselves were satisfying — complex, engaging the mind, unfolding right to the end. And I was rather pleased with myself that I saw the final detail coming, although I did not solve the central whodunnit part. I saw some reviewers had complained that there was too much detail. But I had just read a book with too little, which is extremely unsatisfying. You could shrink the book down to almost novella size, like this other writer had done their story, but then you’d miss out on the nuances, the red herrings, the feeling of the Peak District, the characters coming to life and drawing you in to their lives, the emotions, the mood, the colours and smells and sounds of the events and the landscape. You’d miss out on caring what happens. It’s the details that separate a so-so writer from the ones who absorb you into their stories.