03 May 2012

Stories almost as old as I am

The stories told in the latest Stephen Booth mystery I read begin with the crash of an RAF bomber near the end of World War II. As you might expect, over the decades, the stories spread out like a river flowing into a large delta. Six men died in the crash, one survived, and one went missing. Sixty years later, descendants of three of those men are involved in more deaths and more mystery around the mountain where the plane crashed.

It didn't take me long to get back to another Stephen Booth book. That's in part because I enjoyed reading the two earlier books and in part because the mysteries in the library are arranged alphabetically. This one is Blood on the Tongue.

Once again, I appreciated Booth's ability to portray characters in print in ways that make them seem more than imaginary place holders. Ben Cooper, native of the English Peak District is the central character once again. And I learned more about him and his life in this book. The rising star of the constabulary, Diane Fry is also a main figure, and she becomes more enigmatic as I learned more about her. She seemed to me to be jealous of Cooper's ease with the people and places he'd grown up with. She also seemed more determined to undermine his strengths. He seemed to be baffled by her and yet to seek understanding. It's certainly not the way I'd respond to her enmity. Ah, but the tension is part of what kept me interested in the book.

If the 1945 plane crash was the ultimate beginning, one of the episodes in this book begins when the granddaughter of the plane's pilot receives her grandfather's medal, mailed anonymously from the village nearest the crash site. Another episode involves the body of a long-dead infant almost buried under part of the plane's wreckage. There are three other tales told in this book.

At the beginning, it seems that all of them are related. However, the relationships are indirect and tenuous. The resolutions are not all clear cut and neatly done. To me it seems more like real life than the crisp packages that some mystery writers wrap up in their final chapters.

For me, Booth did it again: created and described characters that were interesting and believable; told stories that were intriguing; and connected them in realistic ways. I'm hesitant to go on to book four in his series because Ben Cooper has a weakness in evaluating women and he keeps seeing redeeming qualities in the nasty piece of work who is his superviser. I don't want to see her redeemed. I don't even want Cooper to save her life if she's threatened.

Have any of you read Blood on the Tongue or another of Stephen Booth's "crime novels? What did you think about it or them? Or how did you feel about it or them? Write and tell this little bit of the world.

The book was published in 2002. It's available for a free download if you search for online.

1 comment:

Sank said...

Ooo this sounds right up my alley. Have to take you up on it and finda copy.