Stephen Booth

The Murder Road

" of Britain's best crime writers. "


For the tiny Peak District hamlet of Shawhead, there's only one road in and one road out. Its residents are accustomed to being cut off from the world by snow or floods. But when a lorry delivering animal feed is found jammed in the narrow lane, with no sign of the driver except for a blood-stained cab, it's the beginning of something more sinister.

Detective Inspector Ben Cooper must attempt to unravel the history of secrets, lies and loyalties that will lead to the truth behind the missing lorry driver. However, the residents of Shawhead are not used to having strangers in their midst and, while getting to grips with staff changes in E Division, Ben's way forward is far from clear. Will he turn to Detective Sergeant Diane Fry, now working in Special Operations at Nottingham's Major Crimes Unit, for help when the case takes a dramatic turn?

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A new novel by Stephen Booth is always worth celebrating. It's hard to believe ‘The Murder Road’ is the fifteenth in the Cooper and Fry series. I've been with these characters from the first book, ‘Black Dog’ back in 2000. Over the past fifteen years there have been many changes to the lives of our two protagonists, but their stalwart ability to solve crime has always been constant. Stephen Booth's novels are reminiscent of the Dalziel and Pascoe novels by the amazing Reginald Hill. It's not just the Derbyshire setting but the natural story-telling and descriptive powers that Booth has to depict the horrors of crime against the landscape of one of the most beautiful counties in the country. ‘The Murder Road’ is a rather sedate edition in the series following the last two novels in which Ben Cooper's life has been tragically turned upside down and the plots have raced along at a thundering pace. This one is more about characterisation. It's refreshing to see such wonderfully drawn characters take centre stage without the plot ruling the pace. That is where Booth's talents lie - he knows his characters and can trust them to lead the story. The plot of a murdered lorry drive is subtle yet darkly mysterious and as Cooper and his team uncover the truth they find many layers to the case. The exit of a staple character, the entrance of a new one, and Ben's domestic life uncertain (once again) make ‘The Murder Road’ a truly dramatic and entertaining novel. If you compare this Cooper and Fry novel to the last one you will notice they are so vastly different yet both thrillingly engaging. That is the power of writing by one of Britain's best crime writers.

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