07 October 2012

Good story telling in the Peak District

I've been recovering, just not very quickly. I keep feeling guilty because I haven't excelled at recovering. (Will the docs give me bad grades?) Now that I'm not sleepy all the time, I do have energy to read.

From the Northfield library I picked books by two authors who have entertained me before: Thomas Perry and Stephen Booth.

I started the Perry book, Silence, first, but I didn't finish it. It reminded me of his Jane Whitefield books that I have read. The good guys are practically super heroes. The bad guys are practically super villains. Silence is a chase story, like the Jane Whitefield stories. About half way through the book I got bored with the cat and mouse chasing.

Then I picked up Stephen Booth's Scared to Live. I read all of it and enjoyed just about every minute I spent following the stories and "listening" to the characters. Like his other books, this one is set in the UK's Peak District. It's an area of hills, lakes, mountains, and abandoned farms which is dominated by the UK's first national park. It's a park that has 4 to 5 times as many visitors per year as the USA's Yellowstone. (It's near metropolitan Manchester.)

But there are villages and towns, private dwellings, and private farms within the park. So there are also British police. Booth's stories revolve around the crime fighting of Derbyshire force. DC Ben Cooper and DS Diane Fry are the main cops on the job, but there are others on the force. And, whenever things get busy, people are called in from other places. In this story a cop from Bulgaria even joins the hunt for bad guys.

A reclusive woman is murdered. A mother and her two children die in an arson fire. Two people are killled by hitmen in Bulgaria. A Bulgarian immigrant dies in his isolated caravan on a farm where he had been working. A baby disappears, her nervous father is attacked, and her uncle jumps off a tower meant for sight seeing.

Once again, Booth tells several stories, some seemingly related and others not. However, before everything comes to a conclusion, some of the stories that seemed related turn out not to be and others turn out to be connnected. Booth does this well.

None of the stories get neglected or falter. The connections that appear and disappear seem unforced. The ending, when everything has to be explained seems a little contrived (as with the other Booth novels I've read), but I can live with that since the rest is so well done.

Did I say I really like reading Scared to Live? Well, I did.

Have you read Scared to Live? How did you react to it? Write and tell this little bit of the world about your reaction.

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