The Murder Road – Stephen Booth

91lUv1SXpmL._SL1500_Title – The Murder Road

Author – Stephen Booth

Published – July 2015

Genre – Crime fiction

It seems a bit of an oversight in my crime fiction reading that I haven’t read a title by Stephen Booth before, especially when you consider that The Murder Road is number 15 in his Cooper and Fry series. When I mentioned this on Twitter I discovered I seemed to be in the minority and there is a lot of love out there for the series.

This is one of those police procedural stories which starts with a very simple but intriguing premise. A lorry is stuck under a bridge in a Derbyshire hamlet with only one road in or out. The lorry is blocking the access for the residents and when one of them peers inside the cab they discover a trail of blood. When the police arrive there is still no sign of the driver and a full-scale investigation ensues.

The ‘Cooper’ of the series is Detective Inspector Ben Copper – he is leading the investigation into the abandoned lorry / missing driver and also has a new DS thrust on him. Cooper seems to be less cliched then many fictional detectives but from the references to his past things haven’t always been plain sailing. I assume that ‘Fry’ has made more of an appearance in previous titles – here she was a, sort-of, love interest.

The setting is brought to life by Booth and the seemingly simple story has twists and turns as the investigation unfolds. The situation is also a great way of setting up something akin to a ‘locked room’ mystery in the midst of the Peak District countryside. Although the investigative team is supported by a pathologist and teams of SOCOs the story is light on technical detail and relies on more traditional methods and the statements/evidence of those interviewed by the police. In sticking with a small-scale rather than having a sprawling plot or a rampaging serial killer Booth keeps the story credible and absorbing.

I often review series in order and want to tell people whether they will be at a disadvantage or not if they haven’t read the preceding titles. I have to confess, though, that already knowing the backstory does make it difficult to judge. Coming in at number 15 in this series I can definitely say that I didn’t feel I was missing anything that was relevant to the story. Of course there’s lots of background that was, at most, hinted at, but rather than feel I had missed something it was more of an enticement to explore the earlier books.

And books set in the Peak District seem to be a little like buses – I’m not sure when I last came across one but this comes hot on the heels of In Bitter Chill.

Thank you to the publisher for the review copy. I will defiantly be seeking out more in this series and if you’re not already familiar with the books there is a full list, in order, here – http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/b/stephen-booth/

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2 comments

  1. I reviewed The Devil’s Edge a few years ago but came away disappointed with an obvious plot and characterisation that seemed to assume knowledge of the previous ten books. Maybe I’ll try again one day… I’m pretty sure I’m in a minority with Booth’s books.

    1. There a few points in this where I couldn’t understand why no-one was asking the obvious questions, but I was pleased to find I didn’t need to worry. Sounds like they may be worth another try.

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