Blind to the Bones: A Crime Novel

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9780743237963: Blind to the Bones: A Crime Novel

Something sinister is happening on the desolate moors of England's Peak District. The villagers of Withens are dying. Nineteen-year-old Emma Renshaw disappeared two years ago. Her body has never been found, and her parents still cling to the hope that she may be alive.

Now, Neil Granger, one of Emma's former housemates, has been killed in a particularly grotesque way. What was Neil doing out on the moor by the deserted, rat-filled railway tunnel where his bludgeoned remains were discovered? Is there a link between Neil's death and Emma's disappearance? Why didn't Neil offer Emma a ride to the station on the day she vanished? Or did he? Had he been hiding the truth? And what is the significance of Emma's bloodied cellular phone?

While Detective Sergeant Diane Fry focuses on Emma's possible murder -- now a cold case -- her colleague Ben Cooper takes a temporary assignment to probe rural crime. His first task is to investigate a series of burglaries in and around Withens. Thieves have hit nearly every house that has valuables, and even the church has been plundered. Only one family seems to be exempt from the break-ins: the Oxleys. Descended from the workmen who built the tunnels that run two hundred feet below the village, they stick to their own like the sheep on the hillsides, passing on secret knowledge through the generations.

Into the tempest that is Withens come Cooper and Fry, two people who share an emotion-filled professional and personal history, and who must again deal with each other as their separate cases gradually converge. But winning the trust of the locals and establishing a link between the deaths is not their only challenge. What other secrets does the village hold? And even if Cooper and Fry can find the answers, can the guilty ever be brought to justice?

Acknowledged to be one of the most gifted of the new generation of crime writers, Stephen Booth gives us a richly nuanced, brilliantly evoked novel sure to win him many new accolades.

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Review:

Family troubles of all shapes and surprises keep the cops hopping and the tension high in English novelist Stephen Booth's fourth Ben Cooper/Diane Fry mystery, Blind to the Bones.

The most affecting of this novel's three plot lines concerns the disappearance of university student Emma Renshaw, who was last seen more than two years ago while on her way home to Derbyshire. Unable to accept that their daughter isn't merely late on the train, that she's more than likely dead, Howard and Sarah Renshaw have gone to extraordinary lengths to find her, consulting psychics and "bombarding the police with theories and suggestions, pleas and demands"--all for naught. But then, suddenly, Emma's blood-stained mobile phone is found, and the Renshaws' faith seems finally to be rewarded. Or is this just another opportunity for disappointment? Meanwhile, Detective Constable Cooper--posted temporarily (he hopes) to a rural crime squad--is investigating burglaries around the depressed old village of Withens, when the battered corpse of one of Emma's ex-housemates turns up on the nearby moors, his face blackened with theatrical make-up and stolen goods left behind in his car. Inquiries lead Cooper to a clannish local family with a history of trouble-making, and put him in the sights of a shadowy group called the Border Rats.

Booth's ability over the course of a story to transform some of his least suspicious players into the most devious (or vice-versa) and his appreciative portrayal of England's scenic Peak District both make for engrossing fiction. Blind to the Bones's subtlest but most intriguing element, though, may be its third plot thread, which finds Detective Sergeant Fry's long-lost, heroin-addicted sister turning up in Edendale, where she tries to enlist Cooper's help in convincing the hard-edged Diane to stop looking for her, once and for all. This track answers several questions about DS Fry's past while raising more--and promising new levels of character development in future installments of this series. --J. Kingston Pierce

About the Author:

Stephen Booth is a two-time winner of the Barry Award for Best British Crime Novel. He is the author of the critically acclaimed novels Black Dog and Dancing with the Virgins. Other bestsellers in his Cooper and Fry series include Blood on the Tongue, One Last Breath, and Blind to the Bones, which earned him the prestigious Dagger in the Library Award. A former journalist, Stephen Booth lives in Nottinghamshire, England.
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