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Black Dog

(Ben Cooper & Diane Fry #1)

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  4,280 ratings  ·  300 reviews
Who killed Laura Vernon?

The helicopters are halted. The dogs are called off. The search for beautiful, teenaged Laura Vernon is over. Her body is found, mutilated, in the forest.

When he takes on the case, Ben Cooper is paired with a new partner: Diane Fry, a woman as tenacious as she is alluring. The two detectives are like fire and gasoline. But they must learn to work to
ebook, 531 pages
Published October 8th 2013 by Witness Impulse (first published January 1st 2000)
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3.81  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,280 ratings  ·  300 reviews

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May 02, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A police procedural which was a little too stretched out for me to enjoy to the full. As it is only the first in the series and because the series has good reviews I will certainly try no. 2
Aug 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A pleasantly twisted police procedural set in the Peak District of England. If you have any inkling you might read this book, I suggest you to read none of the reviews or summaries readily available—including this one—because they will diminish your reading pleasure.

If you’re still with me, I said the preceding because I did read some of those reviews and they spoiled the story for me. Since you won’t be reading the book or you wouldn’t be reading this (you are following my advice, aren’t you?),
Jun 18, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: uk-mystery
How frustrating! There were things here I really wanted to enjoy. In particular, a trio of very well drawn elderly male characters are like nothing else I've seen in the mystery genre or, really, anywhere. The intersection of the "Black Dog" of local mythology and an actual black dog (or two) is also well done. However, there were several things that consistently interrupted my ability to enjoy this book.

For one thing, the author infodumps with a heavy hand. Not only are passages too full of un
Mary Gilligan-Nolan
I'd been looking out for new authors I might enjoy and this book came from the Goodreads recommendations. It is the debut novel, circa 1999, and I was delighted to see there are 11 books in all in this series. I really liked it, it did "just what it said on the tin", so to speak. Sometimes, the blurb on the back cover can be a little misleading, but not in this case. It had a great plot, characters and it was totally grounded and realistic. Set in the Peak District, D.C. Diane Fry arrives to tak ...more
Jul 12, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Booth's got some good story-telling skills. This debut, however, suffers from two problems: a tendency to overt foreshadowing, which strikes the reader like a neon sign in a forest, and a seriously disappointing main female character.

It's the second that troubles me more. Diane Fry is your typical driven, damaged, almost inhumanly-focused female detective (a trope I've been encountering far too often in mystery novels lately, though only in those written by men). Depicting your women as insecure
Apr 19, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: folks who enjoy the brit mysteries
Recommended to Kathleen by: fantastic fiction, Susan Hill site
Shelves: mystery, 2010, british, police
Got this thru ILL since no library in the area possessed a copy. And now I know why..... Several times I wanted to just throw it across the room: frustrating, a VERY annoying female sidekick (who is about as uncouth as they come)- what kept me going was: I knew the solution was right in front of me & wanted to see it thru.
That, and I figure this book, the first of a series with Ben Cooper, was all about background & setting up the scene for the upcoming books.
Perhaps I'll read more of Mr
Jan 14, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Only liked the descriptions of the Peak District topography...otherwise, not for me.
Colin Mitchell
Aug 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime
A writer new to me and starting from the beginning of the Cooper and Fry series. This looks like a straight -forward police procedural novel, as DC Cooper, the local lad, and son of a police hero, becomes involved in the murder of a 15year old girl. Three old men are part of the story who have a close bond of friendship built up through work in the local lead mines of the Peak District and service in the army during world war two.The descriptions of the Peak District and the valleys and tour mak ...more
Jo Ring
Apr 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Would've been 9/10 if I could!
Oct 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Review: http://peskypiksipesternomi.blogspot....

Wow. This is a fantastic read. Not only am I going to wholeheartedly recommend Black Dog to everyone, I'm going to go ahead and read the rest of the Ben Cooper & Diane Fry series; if the twelve books that follow are anything like this one, I know I'll love them. It is a unique story, with all the pieces of the intricately crafted puzzle falling smoothly in place at the end.

You know, in most popular mysteries (the few that I have read, anyway) t
May 09, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not sure if this is the oddest way to find a book recommendation but last week on the night before the election I was watching Jeremy Paxman being interviewed on Newsnight about his preparations for election night. Filmed in front of a bookcase full of crime novels I noticed the name Stephen Booth in bold and then found him in the library. Anyway an enjoyable crime novel set in the heart of the Peaks and introduces two young detective constables who are polar opposites Ben Cooper and Diane F ...more
I had a discussion over a book a few weeks ago, an argument really, and my side was “I can still love the book even if I hate the characters, even if they are the main characters”. This one almost pushed me to their side of the argument.

I had to stop a lot in the first 100-pages of the book and remind myself “It is British procedural.. it is a British procedural crime novel that won a bunch of awards… you like British crime novels.. channel Robbie Cultrane (Cracker)” What is the difference? It i
May 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2000-reads, tops
The Vernon family are an anomaly in the Peak District. They are very well to do, and their lifestyle is in stark contrast to the farmers and other working people of the area. Graham Vernon entertains his business contacts royally; their palatial home is cared for by gardeners and other servants. However, even the wealthy are not immune to crime. Their 15-year-old daughter, Laura, goes missing. Shortly before her disappearance, she was seen in the gardens with a young man. Have they run away toge ...more
Nov 29, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The murder of a girl sets off an investigation through which the reader gets to know every person in the village. I kept on reading to find out about the secrets most of the characters seem to be carrying. The author has skilfully and artfully set up the story line with allusions indicating there is much more to the various characters than at first meets the eye. Meanwhile the ways in which the various police departments relate to one another gives another dimension to the story.

The reader is ke
Oct 19, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first novel in this author's series, and the first that I have read by him. It was an interesting rural setting with some colloquial terms that I could easily infer the meaning. The back stories of the two detectives was eventually revealed, but in the meantime I could have strangled Diane Fry. She was downright rude and her actions were sometimes premeditated and malicious. There were several suspects and I never did figure out on my own whodunit. That was revealed in the next to la ...more
Cynthia Pratt
Start of a new English police series for me. While the main characters were interesting, the mystery seemed to drag on too long. I didn't guess the killer but I seldom do so I was surprised once again. Have the next two books in the series so I will see how it goes. There was a section regarding "black dog" which seems part of a superstition hence the title. Did not add anything to the story that I could determine.
Jan 04, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
For a book I largely enjoyed, 2 stars may seem harsh, but there was so much cliché, abrasively expositional dialogue and dodgy writing that make this a debut in need of an editor and some polish.

The Peak District setting works well for a murder and the author certainly uses the setting to it's full advantage. The important questions when it comes to a murder mystery plot are;

Did I enjoy the book? Yes.
Did I want to know who did it? Yes.
Were the detectives memorable? Somewhat.
Did I want to turn th
Jul 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2017
Book Description
Fifteen-year-old Laura, daughter of the wealthy Vernon family, is missing. When retired miner Harry Dickinson reports that he's found the body lying in the woods, his strangely obstinate refusal to cooperate with the investigation raises more than a few eyebrows. Whatever Harry knows about what has happened up in those woods, he's certainly not telling. Cooper teams up with Detective Constable Diane Fry, an ambitious rookie with a few secrets of her own. As they work to unravel t
Dec 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The plot was pretty good, but I kind of felt like this book was a lot of set up for later books, introducing the setting and characters, which were really the focus of the story.

I noticed that a lot of reviewers thought the female lead was "annoying." I am pretty sure she's supposed to be! No spoilers, but you find out late in the book why she's not quite normal emotionally.

I also found it interesting how the author explored Ben Cooper's somewhat fragile ego in the face of some role reversals.
Kath Middleton
Jul 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Stephen Booth writes a mean crime book! His two DCs, Cooper and Fry, each have a complicated background. When a young girl is murdered they soon discover that most of the people they meet in the course of their investigations have an equally complex life. It makes for a great puzzle. I absolutely love the ending.
Aug 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Our VPL Inter Library loan service came through quickly with the first book in this series and I was caught - hook, line and sinker. It is a page turner indeed with well crafted plots and fully developed characters. There were so many real life issues that plague people and I never saw the surprise ending coming. Book # 2 now awaits pick up.
Lisa J
Jul 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. The attention to detail engulfs and doesn’t let you out til the very end.
Jan 20, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another book set locally - Peak District this time. It took me a while to realise it was written nearly 20 years ago though!
Mar 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fast-paced thriller with interesting characters in a good setting. I greatly enjoyed reading it and definitely want to read the next book in this series!
Nov 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A New Series!

I have truly enjoyed this first book in the Cooper and Fry Mysteries. I not only sense the two detectives are going to meticulously solve a lot of cases together, but will also develop a great working relationship.
Whenever someone asks, I tell them that my favorite genre is “murder mystery”, but that I don't really have a favorite sub-genre. I confess – that's not entirely true. I have a soft spot for the sub-sub-sub genre of “character studies with a murder mystery wrapped around it”, where “Whodunnit” and “Howdunnit” takes a back seat to “how does this affect the survivors, the town, and the investigators”. Ironically, most of my favorites in this area (besides Sweden's Camilla Lackberg) come from Great ...more
I read the fourth book in this series many years ago – so long ago that I really don’t remember much of it except main characters Fry and Cooper – and that I enjoyed it. When I saw their names come up somewhere not too long ago, it stirred a memory of that book and got me curious to read more.

Like Deborah Crombie’s Kincaid & James series, this one is set in England but Booth’s style is enough different that this book didn’t feel like a knockoff of her work or an attempt to cash in via a simi
Gayle Noble
As helicopters search Northern England's Peak District for fifteen year-old Laura Vernon, Detective Constable Ben Cooper quietly dreads the worst. And when her body is found in the woods, Cooper's investigation begins with a short list of markedly uncooperative suspects: retired miner Harry Dickinson, whose black Labrador discovered Laura's body, and Laura's wealthy parents. Uneasily teamed with ambitious newcomer Detective Constable Diane Fry, Cooper tests a town's family ties, friendships, and ...more
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Madison Mega-Mara...: Black Dog by Stephen Booth 1 3 Aug 11, 2012 06:59PM  

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A former newspaper journalist, British author Stephen Booth is the creator of two young Derbyshire police detectives, Ben Cooper and Diane Fry, who have appeared in 18 crime novels, all set in and around England's Peak District.

The Cooper & Fry series has won awards on both sides of the Atlantic, and Detective Constable Cooper has been a finalist for the Sherlock Award for the Best Detective

Other books in the series

Ben Cooper & Diane Fry (1 - 10 of 18 books)
  • Dancing with the Virgins (Ben Cooper & Diane Fry, #2)
  • Blood on the Tongue (Ben Cooper & Diane Fry, #3)
  • Blind To The Bones (Ben Cooper & Diane Fry, #4)
  • One Last Breath (Ben Cooper & Diane Fry, #5)
  • The Dead Place (Ben Cooper & Diane Fry, #6)
  • Scared to Live (Ben Cooper & Diane Fry, #7)
  • Dying to Sin (Ben Cooper & Diane Fry, #8)
  • The Kill Call (Ben Cooper & Diane Fry, #9)
  • Lost River (Ben Cooper & Diane Fry, #10)
  • The Devil's Edge (Ben Cooper & Diane Fry, #11)