Born in 1952, Stephen Booth is an award winning British crime writer. His two young Derbyshire police detectives, DC Ben Cooper and DS Diane Fry, have appeared in over thirteen novels set in England's beautiful and atmospheric Peak District.

Stephen has been a Gold Dagger finalist, an Anthony Award nominee, twice winner of a Barry Award for Best British Crime Novel, and twice shortlisted for the Theakston's Crime Novel of the Year. DC Cooper was a finalist for the Sherlock Award for the best detective created by a British author, and in 2003 the Crime Writers' Association presented Stephen with the Dagger in the Library Award for "the author whose books have given readers the most pleasure".

 

A former newspaper journalist, Stephen was born in the Lancashire mill town of Burnley and brought up by the sea in Blackpool. He attended Birmingham City University and worked on local newspapers in in the North and Midlands before his first novel BLACK DOG was published in 2000. He lives in Nottinghamshire.

Stephen Booth

In a remote part of the Peak District stand the Nine Virgins, a ring of stones overshadowed by a dark legend. Now, as winter closes in, a tenth figure is added to the circle – the body of Jenny Weston is discovered, her limbs arranged so she appears to be dancing.

 

Weeks earlier another woman had been attacked on the moors. Maggie Crew was found by a local farmer's wife, severely traumatized, her face savagely cut open. Is there a maniac at loose, knifing woman at random? Unlocking the memories trapped in Maggie's mind is now a matter of utmost urgency, and Detective Sergeant Diane Fry is given the task of drawing the truth out of her.

 

For DC Ben Cooper there are too many lines of enquiry leading to too few answers. Two travellers, sleeping rough near the scene of the murder, baffle the detectives with their strange rituals and language which may or may not be hiding vital information. Then there is the Park ranger, Owen Fox, whose past hides a shameful secret. And what of the farmer, Warren Leach, on whose land the Nine Virgins stand: a desperate man whose own children fear him.

 

Against the dramatic backdrop of the White Peak, Ben and Diane struggle to make sense of a murder that seems motiveless. But the moors have witnessed more bloodshed than either realize, and violence is to beget more violence before the answer is found.

 

‘Includes several sinuous turns and surprises’

Scotsman

DANCING WITH THE VIRGINS

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The Hound's picks

It wasn’t the easiest way to commit suicide. But Marie Tennent seemed to have just curled up in the freezing snow on Irontongue Hill and stayed there until her body was frosted over like a supermarket chicken. And hers isn’t the only death the police have to contend with either – not after the discovery of a baby in the wreckage of an old Airforce bomber, and the body of a man dumped by a roadside.

 

As if three bodies on her hands isn’t enough, snow and ice have left half of ‘E’ Division out of action and Diane Fry is forced to partner DC Gavin Murfin. She and Ben Cooper were never a match made in heaven, but next to Murfin, working with Ben starts to look like a dream.

 

He’s on a trail of his own, though – and one as cold as the Peak District January. In an equally bitter winter in 1945 an RAF bomber crashed on Irontongue Hill killing everyone except the pilot, who walked away and disappeared. Now his grand-daughter, Alison Morrissey, is in Derbyshire desperate to clear his name, and Ben can’t help taking an interest.

 

But is a fifty-year-old mystery really the best use of police time? Or does a vicious attack in the dark Edendale backstreets prove that the trail’s not quite as cold as he’d thought? Could the past be the only clue to present violence as an icy winter looks set to get even chillier?

 

 

BLOOD ON THE TONGUE