I have gotten back into reading Stephen Booth after a prolonged absence of five or six years. An absence that was due to the loss of a US publisher for his books and not picking them up once he found a new one. Last summer, I purchased all of the missing books in UK editions. Condition is lacking in most, but seeing as I got the five of them for about fifty dollars I'm not that concerned. Mr. Booth is one of the reasons I am embarking on the this project. As it turned out, I had more unread then read books by Mr. Booth. With that in mind, at the end of last year, I picked up where I had left off with THE KILL CALL (Yay!) and LOST RIVER (Eh...).
I find Mr. Booth to be a super reliable author. His best books are very good, and his lesser efforts are only minor dips in the road. If I had any trepidation in reading 2011's THE DEVIL'S EDGE it is that THE LOST RIVER was one of those dips in the road. Long story short the plot just never came together for me. Also giving me pause is that Mr. Booth has always been a slow read for me, as they average about two weeks. This presents a real problem in that I am trying to read a lot of books by a predetermined date. I have four more books by Mr. Booth on the shelf, plus one that I need to purchase, and whatever else he publishes between now and the conclusion of this project. Simply, I could spend 3-4 months just reading Cooper and Fry novels.
Of course, that would be a great pleasure if they all are as good as THE DEVIL'S EDGE. Mr. Booth has always been good at stripping his character down to their raw emotions. Small slights and perceived threats hold the most danger in his work. He draws common characters with uncommon honesty. People pushed to limits who make stupid decisions that all too often are only protect their ego, and this goes for criminal and cop alike.
Detective Ben Cooper has always been the cop with folksy charm, maybe not the smartest tack in the drawer, but certainly dogged. He is the lead here as Mr Booth's other creation, Detective Diane Fry has taken the back seat in the last two novels. Fry has always been a prickly character and never more so in this book. Her rare appearance in THE DEVIL'S EDGE seem timed to not only bring an audible groan out of her (former?) colleagues, but the readers as well. I am certainly interested in where this is going as the success of Mr. Booth's books balances on a scale between the two detectives. However, there is no denying Fry's presence in the proceedings has been a bitter pill to swallow going back a few books now. In any case all will be revealed soon as I will undoubtedly pick up another Cooper and Fry novel soon.
I'm on to the next one now. Walter Mosely's CHARCOAL JOE.