One Last Breath by Stephen Booth

Following in the tradition of P.D. James and Reginald Hill, Stephen Booth also writes about a crimes set in rural England. But the story is not just about the crime itself, it is a study of the interaction between the families involved, the police who are investigating and the local history and traditions. Booth writes about Detective Constable Ben Cooper, a native to the Peak District and son of a local policeman who died while on the job; and Detective Constable Diane Fry, a woman who is still an outsider despite the fact she has been in the area for years.

Their latest case involves a man who goes missing as soon as he is released from prison after serving 13 years for murdering his lover. Shortly after he disappears, his ex-wife is found dead. Is he the guilty or is he hiding from the real killer? Complicating the investigation is the fact that Ben’s father was the arresting officer in the original case so Ben himself may be a target this time. Fry has to deal with preventing Cooper from going off on his own while worrying about her sister, who is a recovering addict and has recently come to live with her.

The hunt for the killer takes place in and around the many caves that lie underneath the hills in the Peak District of central England. Booth excels in describing the landscape and the creepiness of the unused mining tunnels. Throw in a dense fog, rumors of bodies appearing in the caves, and a murderer bent on revenge and you get one very suspenseful book. It certainly kept me up late!

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