Book Review: Stephen Booth’s latest crime thriller Fall Down Dead

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A compass and a pair of stout walking boots wouldn’t go amiss when you start reading Fall Down Dead, writes Tony Spittles.

That’s the title of the latest Peak District thriller featuring detective duo Cooper & Fry, penned by ex-Worksop Guardian journalist Stephen Booth.

This, the 18th in the series, looks set once again to delight legions of fans at home and abroad who have been following the Derbyshire-based duo since they first appeared on the scene as rookie police officers in Black Dog back in 2000.

That was when local bobby Ben Cooper was joined by ambitious and attractive DC Diane Fry, who had been transferred from the Midlands.

Over the years, their police and private lives had ebbed and flowed with Fry now a sergeant with an East Midlands special operations unit based in Nottingham, while DCI Cooper is heading the CID team at Edendale.

That town’s fictional, but the rest of the story is real and believable as Cooper investigates the unexplained death of a hiker, Faith Matthew, who had been found on a rocky outcrop called Dead Woman’s Drop on the imposing and rugged Kinder Scout.

Stephen Booth’s love and knowledge of the Peak District’s outstanding beauty and history stands out as he intertwines the events leading up to the original Kinder Mass Trespass in 1932 with the story of a disparate group of locals, called the New Trespassers’ Walking Club, as they attempt to head 2,087 feet up to the summit of the moorland plateau.

The fog that engulfs the 12 remaining walkers on their Kinder Scout trek is just as confusing as the different stories they tell Cooper and his team, while police have their own problems to resolve when Fry finds herself at the centre of an internal investigation from her early days in Birmingham that threatens to bring Cooper down with it.

Further details of Stephen Booth’s future book signings and talks to various groups around the region, now that the 378-page Fall Down Dead has been published (Sphere, £20), can be found in the Newsletter section at