Drowned Lives by Stephen Booth
|Drowned Lives by Stephen Booth|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: A standalone psychological thriller from the author of the Cooper and Fry series. I much prefer the Cooper and Fry series!|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 432/14h4m||Date: August 2019|
|External links: Author's website|
When council officer Chris Buckley is approached by an old man who wants his help in healing a decades' old family rift he's reluctant to get involved, but then Chris is reluctant to get involved in anything but a pint in the pub these days. It could just be the way that he is, or the fact that he's just lost both his parents within three months of each other. He's currently existing in the family home and wondering when he's going to be made redundant from his job with the council. The short answer to that one is 'soon'. Chris does his best to deter the old man, but it's not before he's left a lot of papers with his neighbour. Then the old man is murdered and the police come calling on Chris.
I came to this book because I'm a long-term fan of Stephen Booth's Cooper and Fry police procedurals. I was hoping for something in a similar vein. To some extent I was lucky: Booth has an excellent talent for evoking countryside. This time it's the area around Lichfield and particularly the canal system and a restoration project - the Ogley and Huddlesford Canal Restoration Trust - which aims to restore a seven-mile link between other canals. The Ogley and Huddlesford is based on a real restoration project and you'll be in there with all the mud, slime and crumbling brickwork.
Like me you might feel that you know just a little bit too much of the restoration work, canal systems and narrowboats by the end of the book, but you can't fault Booth for the work he's obviously put into researching the background for the story. He's a brave author too: most make their lead character someone you can relate too and want to succeed. Chris Buckley is the stereotypical council officer (but probably not one real council officers would recognise, I hasten to add) who knows that he's going to be a failure at whatever he does and who seems capable of making wrong judgements at every turn. I couldn't root for him. I'm sorry! He annoyed the hell out of me...
The plot is good, with plenty of twists and a villain I didn't spot even though there were plenty of clues. We're looking at a two-hundred-year-old feud between two families, which looks like being replicated in the twenty-first century. Booth has set his story in the late nineteen-nineties and it was good to see him recreate the language and mores of the time. Language does develop and change even over so short a period as a couple of decades: Booth has it perfectly. The book was a reasonable read - but I'd rather Booth stuck to his Cooper and Fry novels!
I'd like to thank the publishers for making a copy available to the Bookbag.
There are thirty locks in Booth's fictional stretch of canal. We can only offer you twenty one in Twenty-One Locks by Laura Barton.
You could get a free audio download of Drowned Lives by Stephen Booth with a 30-day Audible free trial at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy Drowned Lives by Stephen Booth at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Drowned Lives by Stephen Booth at Amazon.com.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.