Scribner, Oct 2003, 25.00, 432 pp.
Two years ago, Birmingham student Emma Renshaw went to catch the train to visit her parents in Withens. However, somewhere en route she disappeared without a clue as to what happened to her. Though most people assume she is dead, her frenzied parents fervently believe she is alive and will come home soon. They live life as if Emma is attending school, keeping her room the way she left it and buy her holiday gifts, and maintain her car.
However, murder occurs on the Dark Peak moors near Withens leading to Detective Diane Fry wanting to reopen the cold case of Emma. Meanwhile Diane's peer, Detective Ben Cooper investigates the apparent murder of Neil Oxley, a roommate of Emma's who is also from Withens. The two cases seem to connect, but both detectives struggle with dysfunctional families as the Renshaws refuse to accept their daughter is most likely dead and the Oxleys reject talking to authorities preferring to hide their secrets inside their clandestine clan.
This is an exhilarating believable English police procedural that should provide Stephen Booth with a host of new fans. The story line is fun to follow as the two cops struggle independently with non-cooperating people before their inquiries converge. Readers will take great pleasure in the latest Fry-Cooper novel and search for previous books starring these powerful detectives (see BLOOD ON THE TONGUE).
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner