This is an excellent, complex and superbly cast crime drama. It is part of a series that feature two detectives, DS Diane Fry and DC Ben Cooper and set in the Peak District in Derbyshire. The setting is a critical part of the series, it is a major character in each story, the actions of the casts are framed and influenced strongly by the countryside, the slow death of the industrial countryside and the ways of life it supported. The cast are steadily developed over the series, there is not overwhelming continuity, each book stand easily as a self contained story, read as a progression the developments are an enjoyable extra aspect to the books. A body is found at an isolated farm, it is a cold case, the body has been buried for some time. The farm had been sold and was being renovated. The man who sold the farm had moved to a nursing home. There are severe difficulties in identifying the body, when a second headless skeleton is found the investigation starts to become more complicated. The farm and the local village clearly hold a variety of secrets that they are tightly holding on to. The story unfolds into a very modern and very savage explanation for the presence of the bodies at the farm. Stephen Booth introduces a wide and very varied cast and draws the threads of his story with great skill as the reveals steadily mount up and a very satisfactory conclusion is reached.
One of the major strengths of the story is the credibility of the cast, they are very well drawn and they act in natural and understandable ways. They interactions between them effectively drive the story as well as revealing more about the cast themselves, the conclusion is a organic outcome from the forces described in the story. A really satisfying read by a very talented writer.