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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Booth's best yet
This, Stephen Booth's fourth novel featuring DC Cooper and DS Fry, is an excellent continuation to the series, and arguably his best novel yet. Set as always in the Peak District, this novel has all the classic elements - dead bodies, a struggling police force and unhelpful witnesses. However, Blind to the Bones is much more than a typical murder mystery. Once again, the...
Published on 11 April 2003 by M. V. Clarke

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars The jury's out on this.
My first meeting with a Booth novel. I was told he writes in the mould of Peter Robinson whom I love. I began enthusiastically, engrossed, barely able to put it down but ran out of steam with so much detail. The Border Rats left me bemused, the "Alas poor Yorrick" scene very unconvincing. Connor and Fry are a strange pair and the Renshaws unreal. I can believe in a...
Published on 20 Aug. 2011 by Jane Baker


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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Booth's best yet, 11 April 2003
By 
M. V. Clarke (Durham, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Blind to the Bones (Hardcover)
This, Stephen Booth's fourth novel featuring DC Cooper and DS Fry, is an excellent continuation to the series, and arguably his best novel yet. Set as always in the Peak District, this novel has all the classic elements - dead bodies, a struggling police force and unhelpful witnesses. However, Blind to the Bones is much more than a typical murder mystery. Once again, the antagonism between Cooper and Fry, mixed up with a grudging mutual respect, boils away just below the surface. As with Booth's earlier novels, the reader feels close to these characters, due to the excellent descriptions of their emotions and thought processes. This time, it is DS Fry's personal life that we become more involved in, unlike Blood on the Tongue, where Cooper's was at the forefront. In developing the plot, Booth lifts this novel onto a higher level, providing a fascinating insight into the life of a close-knit family, and an isolated and deprived community. Booth's research is exemplary, and the significance of a particular local custom to the plot is a masterful touch. The landscape of the Peak District and the location of this novel are especially important, as in all of Booth's novels, and the added historical element to the story adds to the unusual community at the centre of the plot.

Several seemingly disparate elements are woven together and ingeniously combined, producing a most satisfying conclusion to the book, following a series of unexpected twists. The contrast between the different social groups within the village is superbly handled - though they make attempts to distance themselves from each other, there are of course connections between them, which are slowly unravelled throughout this novel, making the plot all the more intriguing. As ever, there's some light humour, courtesy of DC Murfin, and his appetite, which infuriates DS Fry.

This is a truly splendid piece of writing - read it! I can't wait for the next instalment.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Small Town Mysteries, 20 Nov. 2003
By 
Untouchable (Sydney, NSW Australia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Blind to the Bones (Hardcover)
Murder once again visits the Peak District of Derbyshire near Edendale in the 4th book of this terrific series. The members of the Derbyshire Constabulary, E Division are called on to work the case, although Ben Cooper has been loaned out to the Rural Crimes Team and Diane Fry is investigating a 2-year-old missing persons case, separating the duelling coppers.
The story centres around the tiny hamlet of Withens leading both Cooper and Fry there on their separate investigations. The murder victim is a young local man named Neil Granger. Granger is part of a large family that makes up the majority of the residents of Withens. It’s Ben’s job to interview the residents but like so many isolated close-knit communities they are particularly suspicious of outsiders, and this lot are especially suspicious when it comes to the police. Ben can’t help but think they are hiding something but doesn’t know what.
Meanwhile, there is one old couple in Withens, the Renshaws, who are more than happy to talk. The problem is, the only topic of conversation is their daughter Emma, who went missing 2 years ago. The Renshaws talk of Emma in the present tense, expecting her to walk through their door at any moment, much to Diane Fry’s bemusement.
Because of Ben Cooper’s secondment to the Rural Crimes Team, Diane has had to use the ever hungry and source of numerous lighter moments, Gavin Murfin. Murfin is taking an increasingly prominent role as the series progresses and is a nice counterpoint to Fry’s more dour by the book attitude.
This series is getting stronger and stronger with each new book and the characters of Ben Cooper and Diane Fry are developing nicely. If you’re after an exceedingly enjoyable police procedural, I strongly recommend this one. In my opinion, this is the best of the series so far.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WOW!!, 27 Mar. 2005
By A Customer
This review is from: Blind to the Bones (Paperback)
How fantastic can a book get?? I haven't even finished this one yet, but I feel compelled to write a review about it.
This book is great. It is packed with atmosphere. It is gritty, suspenseful, terrifying, intriguing, and almost impossible to put down. The characters are well thought out, and incredibly well presented. The descriptions of the Derbyshire landscapes is at once, accurate, beautiful and chilling.
From page one of this book, I have been drawn into the story. I am in suspense to find out what happens in the end. Does Cooper get his man? Do the Renshaws find their daughter? What are the secrets surrounding the Oxleys? Who are the border rats, and will Diane Fry finally find peace regarding her missing sister?
If you want a great read, buy this book. You won't be disappointed!
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47 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent, 18 Jan. 2004
By 
RachelWalker "RachelW" (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Blind to the Bones (Hardcover)
Two years ago, student Emma Renshaw disappeared while on her way home from university. Now, a new discovery in the remote countryside prompts the police to reinvestigate the case. But, Diane Fry, in charge of the investigation, finds herself with a hard task made even worse by Emma's parents, who are still expecting their daughter to be found.
They have been pestering the police and her friends ever since her disappearance, note the time of every phone-call just in case it is Emma, keep her car ready and waiting in the garage, and retain all of her Christmas presents in her bedroom - not touched since she left - upstairs.
Eventually, Diane's search leads her to the dark, isolated village of Withens, where she runs into Ben Cooper, who has been temporarily seconded to the Rural Crime Squad, and is investigating both a series of burglaries and a vicious murder. A young man has been battered and left for dead up on the moors, left for the crows to find, and Ben finds nothing but a wall of silence.
The man is a relative of the Oxleys, the oldest family in the area, descended from the very first men who buried under the moors to build the railways tunnels for 3 miles under the moors. But the Oxleys are a secretive family, protective of their own, and they refuse to talk to Ben, an outsider. Thus, progress on the investigation is almost nil. And, to compound Ben's problems, Diane Fry's sister, who ran off when they were teenagers, turns up out of the blue, seeking his help. She wants him to convince Diane to stop looking for, to forget her private investigations and leave things be. With the two officers' relationship tense and fragile at best, this is a shift in the dynamic which could easily destroy it altogether.
Stephen Booth has, within the space of only four novels, safely joined the impressive ranks of Reginald Hill and Peter Robinson as England's most accomplished northern crime novelists. This series, set mostly on and around the remote moors of Derbyshire, has everything. The plots are cracking and clever, paced and patterned masterfully, and the writing is very good indeed, but the most powerful feature of the series is Booth's atmospheric evocation of place, which is dark and brooding and brilliant.
The moors become terrifying, ominous and eerie, yet they also retain a dark beauty which draws the reader right in. And that ability to create atmosphere is displayed more strongly than ever in this fourth book, and all throughout the book he comes up with some excellent reflections of the gradual decay of the moors. The village of Withens, shrinking and dying; the forgotten churchyard, overgrown and tangled with weeds; the long-established family slowly finding themselves rent asunder.
Booth also has a great aptitude for character. His minor characters are as fascinating and well-developed as his two leads, who themselves possibly make up the most interesting duo on the scene in crime fiction. The relationship between Cooper and Fry is complex and compelling, its shifts and undercurrents have a way of making the reader slightly nervous.
The tension between the two is palpable, and the obviousness of the fact that they do care about one another, on various levels, often has the reader imploring them to take a step back and just listen to one another properly just for a change. To be honest, I doubt there is another relationship with as great a dynamic and level of interest in all the crime genre. The series is worth reading just for the shifts and changes and subtle nuances in the pair's attitude toward one another.

Stephen Booth has won the Barry award for Best British novel two years running, and, with the fact that Blind to the Bones is the strongest novel yet in this powerful series, I wouldn't be at all surprised if he snatches it for a well-deserved third time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blind to the bones, 28 Oct. 2012
By 
Clare O'Beara - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Blind to the Bones (Paperback)
A police procedural set high in the peak district of England, where a ten-foot deep snowdrift is usual in winter and piles of stones are marked on the ordnance survey maps.
I've read all the previous books in the series and was prepared for the slow-burn, local detail methods. This is a great contrast to a city crime squad. The countryside and its history are a huge part of every book. We see a crime occur at the start - a young man bludgeoned close by an air shaft for a train tunnel high on a hillside. Then we find the local overgrown churchyard, the reservoirs, the Morris dancers, the sullen close-knit family all living on one terrace and probably involved in crime, the dour farmers who know only hardship and dead sheep, mixed with a new computer software industry on the outskirts of town and a heroin addict from Birmingham.
The main characters, separated by a secondment for Ben Cooper, are kept in touch by Diane Fry's need for information from the local officer. Fry's obsessive hunt for her missing sister takes a new twist. She is forced to confront reality when she interviews a couple whose college-age daughter vanished two years previously. She is probably dead, but they expect her home any minute and buy her Christmas presents each year, speaking of her in the present tense and preserving her room as she left it. We can see that this is an unhealthy attitude and yet so many people go missing each year.
Cooper is enjoying life on his own for the first time, a small flat and adopted cat suiting him well. He has also got a rash of antique thefts to solve and seems to be the main choice for interviewing a closed-ranks local family suspected of general troublemaking.
The pieces are gradually woven together and make a spendid map at the last. I did think there were some aspects that I would have done differently because they did not entirely convince, or took too long to hold my attention. But this is well worth reading and at over 600 pages it is a meal of a book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping Story, 12 Mar. 2007
By 
J. Chippindale (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Blind to the Bones (Paperback)
A newspaper and magazine journalist for over 25 years, Stephen Booth was born in the English Pennine mill town of Burnley. He was brought up on the coast at Blackpool. Stephen gave up journalism in 2001 to write crime novels full time.

Withens is a small village in the Peak District and like many other small town and villages it is troubled by theft and vandalism, but Withens problems stem from mainly one local family, the Oxleys, a family from hell. Now the village is the focus of a murder investigation. A young man's body has been discovered out on the cold and desolate moors nearby and the man is a member of the family from hell, he is an Oxley.

Police are also trying to solve the mystery of a young girl who vanished two years ago. Some new evidence has turned up, but her parents believe that Emma is still alive. With one murder and one unsolved disappearance Withens reputation as a grim place is growing and it looks as though things may get even worse . . .
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Gripping Story, 15 Feb. 2007
By 
J. Chippindale (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
A newspaper and magazine journalist for over 25 years, Stephen Booth was born in the English Pennine mill town of Burnley. He was brought up on the coast at Blackpool. Stephen gave up journalism in 2001 to write crime novels full time.

Withens is a small village in the Peak District and like many other small town and villages it is troubled by theft and vandalism, but Withens problems stem from mainly one local family, the Oxleys, a family from hell. Now the village is the focus of a murder investigation. A young man's body has been discovered out on the cold and desolate moors nearby and the man is a member of the family from hell, he is an Oxley.

Police are also trying to solve the mystery of a young girl who vanished two years ago. Some new evidence has turned up, but her parents believe that Emma is still alive. With one murder and one unsolved disappearance Withens reputation as a grim place is growing and it looks as though things may get even worse . . .
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5.0 out of 5 stars PC Cooper investigates, 27 Feb. 2014
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I find these books fascinating, and enjoy their dry humour, although I must say that I find the beginnings of the stories a little off-putting. Booth has a way of writing obliquely ‘in medias res’ that makes it very difficult to follow what he is saying, and although this is obviously deliberate, and I realize by now that the story will soon become apparent. This story was very good, however, and the way in which the characters are developed simultaneously with the revelations of plot details is excellent. I also like Booth’s way of keeping the denouement until the very last minute, and then revealing a hidden twist to the plot. Fry's character obviously has a lot of room for future development, and one is agog to find out more about her mysterious sister. More will probably be revealed in the next book!
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5.0 out of 5 stars The wonderful Peak District, 25 Oct. 2013
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Stephen Booths descriptions of the Peak District and Derbyshire are superb. His murder mysteries are intriguing to the end, but set in places that I know so well, that the stories really do 'spring to life'. With Ben Cooper and Diane Fry as the main character detectives, there is an aura of continuity as you move from novel to novel.....which you do! I can't wait to finish the current novel and get stuck into the next one. Gripping reads and difficult to put down.

Stephen is generous to his readers ensuring that we develop a true love of the countryside and life in small rural settlements, opening up knowledge of day to day life in these small out of the way places. Yet also showing their close connections to the urban life of Sheffield and Manchester.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Book, 2 April 2012
This review is from: Blind to the Bones (Paperback)
This book was a super read, I simply could not put it down. It has an intriguing storyline and fascinating insight into the area and its history. Highly recommended read.
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Blind to the Bones
Blind to the Bones by Stephen Booth (Paperback - 5 Feb. 2007)
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