Samantha's Reviews > Scared To Live

Scared To Live by Stephen Booth
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bookshelves: mysteries, crime-fiction
Recommended for: British Mystery Fans

** spoiler alert ** The main problem I had with this book was the payoff. It was too far-fetched and stretched credulity. Normally, this would result in a one or two star rating, but I gave it three stars because I simply love DC Cooper.

The story starts out with two separate crimes: (1) a woman (Rose Shepherd) is found dead in her home, shot twice through her bedroom window by a sniper and (2) a mother (Lindsay Mullen) and her two children die in a house fire.

DC Cooper is investigating the first one, DS Fry the second one. Of course, Cooper feels empathy for the victim, as always. What's surprising is the fact the DS Fry seems to feel some for the fire victims as well, which rarely happens. She also feels for the surviving child, a young girl named Luanne, who turns out to be adopted. DS Fry, you see, grew up in foster care and can relate to being unwanted by her real parents. (Sob.)

The death Cooper is investigating, that of Rose Shepherd, is more complicated. The woman was a recluse and finding any clues at all about her life has proven difficult. All he has to go on are a very few eyewitness accounts of people who'd actually met her and the fact that she visited a nearby town, Matlock Bath, a few days before she was murdered.

Diane Fry spends 3/4 of the book convinced the husband torched his house and killed his own family, refusing to see any other option (as usual). Cooper, on the other hand, takes his time before coming to a conclusion. He's more patient and more willing to see the bigger picture than Fry.

As it turns out, the two crimes are related, albeit tangentially. This, however, is the weakness of the book. Turns out Rose Shepherd brokered the illegal adoption of baby Luanne, but that ultimately had nothing to do with why the Mullen family was killed. It really was just a coincidence. There was also a mentally ill brother, a Bulgarian police detective, and a subplot/red herring involving Bulgarian organized crime and baby smuggling. Like I said, far-fetched, esp. for a rural area of England, the Peak District.

What saved the book for me, ultimately, was the personal stuff. DC Cooper has a new girlfriend, Liz Petty, who is a Scenes of Crime Officer (think CSI), which makes me happier than what is healthy, I'm sure. I don't know why I should care, really, but I do. He's also forced by his brother, Matt, to confront the implications of their mother's schizophrenia, which proves difficult for him.

Oh, and DS Fry? She's human after all, since she seems to develop a sort of crush on the Bulgarian police detective that comes to England to lend a hand on the Rose Shepherd case. It's doomed to fail, of course, but it at least shows she's not as cold-hearted as she likes everyone to think she is.

Good book, but Booth has written better.
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Reading Progress

November 20, 2008 – Shelved
Started Reading
November 30, 2008 – Shelved as: mysteries
November 30, 2008 – Finished Reading
June 16, 2011 – Shelved as: crime-fiction

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