Blood on the Tongue by Stephen Booth
The weather is cold and the clues no warmer as Peak District detectives Ben Cooper and Diane Fry tackle a medley of mysteries--each one knottier than the last--in English author Stephen Booth's haunting third novel, Blood on the Tongue. The unidentified body of a dead man has turned up on a frosty roadside. An abused woman is found curled in the snow on nearby Irontongue Hill, an apparent suicide. And there's the lingering puzzle of a Royal Air Force bomber that crashed into Irontongue back in 1945, killing everyone on board except for the pilot, who reportedly walked away from the wreckage... and was never heard from again. With leave and sickness decimating the ranks of the Edendale police force, all hands are needed to solve the modern deaths. But constable Cooper finds himself distracted by the World War II tragedy, in large part because of a beguiling young Canadian, the granddaughter of that missing pilot, who's come to Edendale determined to clear her ancestor's name.
Not surprisingly, these various cases eventually intertwine. But how they're linked by time and tragedy provides the intrigue here. Equally involving is the prickly alliance between Cooper, the "too bloody nice" local lad, and his superior, the emotionally guarded outsider, Fry. Plotted for maximum psychological suspense, teeming with singular secondary characters, and capitalizing on Britain's still-poignant memories of the last world war, Blood on the Tongue is an ambitious and remarkably mature work that delivers on the promise Booth showed in his first novel, Hardcover edition.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Surprising, February 19, 2003
The surprising thing about this author is that he isn't recognized more widely. His writing is absolutely first-class, and his use of the English language surpasses almost any other writing most us encounter. In this narrow field of the "psychological thriller," his command of the language, and his fresh use of the metaphor and simile, is unparalleled. A serious reader will have to re-read some of his passages just for the pleasure of how the mental picture developes as the words are flowing. In this outing, his "heros," Ben and Diane, remain at personal odds, and they have a difficult time working together on their rural Derbyshire Constabulary, but a series of crimes brings them together again to work their particular magic on violent felons. A couple of dead bodies are found, apparently unrelated, but investigation leads back to a WWII crash of a British bomber in the rural mountains, and an amazing series of crimes begins to unfold as evidence points to an ever-widening story of crime, deception at multiple levels, and family relationships. The details presented and analyzed will hold the reader's attention throughout the book. This author also has an unusual insight into how crime victims react to the assaults on them, and some readers will almost shrink from absorbing the details of that process. This story is one that should not be missed by anyone reading in the "crime" or "thriller" field, and we also learn a lot about life in the rural England of today. Rush to grab this one.
--This text refers to the Hardcover edition