Blood on the Tongue


by Stephen Booth (Scribner, 2002)


(This column first appeared in the April 17, 2003 issue of ArtVoice of Buffalo.)


A relative newcomer on the crime novel scene, Stephen Booth is most welcome. In just over two years he has written three topnotch books. An indication of how much I liked his latest, Blood on the Tongue: I immediately went back to read his first two: Black Dog and Dancing With The Virgins, each of which was nominated for British mystery writing awards. His protagonists are two attractive but very different characters who are completely fleshed out in these novels. And unlike the heroes of so much crime fiction, these police detectives come from the lower ranks. Detective Constable Ben Cooper has only minor scratches in his otherwise flawless character: a local, he's been described as "too bloody nice." However, his colleague (and after the first novel, superior) Detective Sergeant Diane Fry, is a more deeply scarred and prickly individual who brings to her role considerable baggage. In this third novel the pair investigate two bodies found on a snowy mountainside and are drawn into a further mystery: the disappearance of the pilot of a RAF bomber that crashed into the same mountain years earlier. The sole survivor simply walked away, never to be found. I cannot wait for another in this series.*gerry rising


* That book, Blind to the Bones, is to be published in October, 2003.