Friday, February 15, 2013

"The Dead Place" by Stephen Booth

DS Diane Fry is convinced that a series of sinister phone calls received by the police - referring to "the dead place" and "flesh eaters" - are the real deal, and that a murder is about to occur. Meanwhile, DC Ben Cooper manages to identify the remains of a woman, only to discover that she died over a year earlier, and was supposedly cremated. Both investigations seem to have links to Hudson & Slack, a locally owned funeral parlour.

Another day, another police procedural. The Dead Place stands out because it is possibly one of the most boring f***ing police procedurals I have ever read. I can't believe I actually persisted through all 597 pages of stunning boredom, only for the villian to turn out to be the person you expected it to be from the start. If it weren't for the intense focus on what happens to people after they die, you would probably mistake this for a quaint British mystery. The character of Diane Fry is particularly unlikeable, rarely coming off as anything other than a narky bitch. If I'm going to spend half a novel with a character, give them at least one likeable facet!

There's not a lot left to really say. Fans of slow-paced police procedurals with the usual focus on the plodding day-to-day mechanics of police work might find something to salvage here. As for me, the only dead place to be found here was the time I wasted on it.

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