In a remote part of the Peak District stand the Nine Virgins, a ring of stones overshadowed by a dark legend. Now, as winter closes in, a tenth figure is added to the circle when the body of Jenny Weston is discovered, her limbs arranged so that she appears to be dancing.
Against the dramatic backdrop of the White Peak, Ben Cooper and Diane Fry struggle to make sense of a murder that seems motiveless. But the moors have witnessed more bloodshed than either realises, and violence is to beget more violence before the answer is found.This is definitely a chunky book. The UK paperback edition I read was 562 pages. Why did I choose it? Partly because I wanted a long book to slow down my reading output so I could catch up on reviews. Partly because I am committed to giving this series a try and I had balked at the length too many times. I read the first book and liked it well enough to continue the series, but then I realized that all the subsequent books I have are very, very long. This book and this series is a commitment for anyone who prefers a shorter novel.
The two main characters, Ben Cooper and Diane Fry, are both Derbyshire detectives in the Peak District. Before the book begins, Diane has been promoted to Detective Sergeant, which Ben remains a Detective Constable. Some feel that she has taken his promotion away from him.
I had a hard time getting into these characters. Diane is so hard and bitter and avoids depth in any relationship. Ben is a kind and good man, almost seeming too good to be a successful policeman. He is dedicated to his job. Ben loves the area he grew up in and now works in; Diane hates being away from the city. Both have their own demons. Within the framework of this long story their back stories are interesting but do not take over the plot.
The story is intricate with lots of layers. I never would have guessed the direction the investigation takes towards the end, yet it makes sense. There were twists and turns along the way but they too felt like they were realistic, the way a real police case may go in the wrong direction initially.
Dagger in the Library, which is "awarded not for an individual book but for the author’s body of work."
Overall I liked this book, and I will continue to read Booth's books and see if they maintain their quality. There are now fourteen books in the series.
An aside: Regarding 2001 CWA Golden Dagger Award, it was won by Henning Mankell for Sidetracked and the Silver Dagger went to Giles Blunt for Forty Words for Sorrow. I have read Blunt's book and will get to Sidetracked one of these days. There are three other books that were shortlisted and I would like to read them all: Baby Love by Denise Danks; Right as Rain by George Pelecanos; and The Ice Harvest by Scott Phillips.
Publisher: Harper, 2007 (orig. pub. 2001)
Length: 562 pages
Series: Ben Cooper and Diane Fry #2
Setting: Derbyshire, Peak District National Park
Genre: Police Procedural
Source: I purchased my copy.