BLOOD ON THE TONGUE is another fantastic novel from Stephen Booth. Not only another fantastic novel, but one with old friends, and even some new ones. Reading BLOOD ON THE TONGUE felt like coming home again.
It is in the middle of the coldest part of the year in the Peak District. The time of the year for cold, frozen feet and red, burning ears. When snow flurries blow hard, and the snow banks along the roads grow so high that they hide all kinds of secrets. Perhaps even a dead body, or two.
Ben Cooper and Diane Fry find themselves together again, at the Edendale Police Department in the midst of a crime wave. Young men are beating each other, people are being found frozen in the snow, and there is a terrible shortage of help. To make life just that much more unbearable at the moment, Diane has a new nemesis, DC Gavin Murfin. A completely, in Diane's mind anyway, uncivilized brute who drives her nuts with both his disgusting eating habits, as well as just him simply breathing. Everything about Gavin disgusts Diane.
To top everything off E Division is getting a new Detective Chief Inspector. Stewart Tailby is retiring to a desk job at headquarters, and DCI Oliver Kessen is taking over.
In the middle of this chaos a young woman arrives from Canada in search of information concerning her grandfather, Daniel McTeague. The problem with this is that Pilot Officer McTeague has been missing since his RAF plane went down 57 years earlier in the peat moors around Irontongue Hill. It was reported at the time that Officer McTeague had survived the accident, and had left the wreckage, walking away from his military career and past life, never to be seen, or heard from again. His granddaughter, Alison Morrissey does not believe this, and is insistent that the police open the old case again and investigate.
Because of political pressure, the Chief Superintendent agrees to speak to Morrissy concerning her grandfather, but doesn't really have his heart in the whole thing. After all the disappearance was 57 years ago, and all of the evidence surrounding it seems pretty sound.
But Ben cannot, and will not let it alone. He has to find out what happened almost 60 years ago.
BLOOD ON THE TONGUE, like the previous books by Mr. Booth, is full of atmosphere and personal relationships. He does this in such a way that you actually feel that you are in the story. The way Mr. Booth describes the Peak District landscape, and the people of
Edendale draw you into the story.
You feel the cold wind against your face, burning your ears, and making it difficult to breath. As you look up at Irontongue Hill you will see it is, "tongue shaped with ridges and furrows. Reptilian, not human, with a curl at the tip. Colder and harder than iron. Darker rock laying on broken teeth of volcano rock debris." And 'you will' see it. All of this you will see and feel, along with people who you cannot forget, their lives entwined and yet separate. Mr. Booth brings both the land and the people together into a story that is completely unforgettable. One that will haunt you and make you want for more. And when you finally get that next story, Mr. Booth does it again, leaving you satisfied, and yet already yearning for more.
BLOOD ON THE TONGUE weaves the past and the present into one. Brings the story full circle. Every character and scene is woven so tightly that you cannot separate them, and yet they remain individual. The characters are everyday characters with lives, feelings, and personalities of their own that you actually can feel and touch. The scenes are so real that they will haunt your dreams at night. The mood, while dark, is absolutely balanced with enough humor and light that it doesn't depress you, but instead keeps you turning those pages to learn more.
BLOOD ON THE TONGUE is an absolute winner, and Mr. Booth has proven himself again as a literary giant. All I can say is that BLOOD ON THE TONGUE will leave you craving for more from this outstanding author.
As with Mr. Booth's previous books, Black Dog, and Dancing with the Virgins, BLOOD ON THE TONGUE is a book that you will want to read slowly, because you want to savor each and every word. It is a book you will not want to rush through. I took my time, knowing that when I turned that last page I would want the next episode and didn't want to have to wait for a long time. Now that I have turned that last page, I am looking forward to the next book out of Mr. Booth, knowing that he again will outdo himself, just as he has with BLOOD ON THE TONGUE. Until then my dreams will be full of the sights, the sounds, and the smells of the Peak District and the people who inhabit it.