Stephen Booth is an award winning British crime writer, the creator of two young Derbyshire police detectives, DC Ben Cooper and DS Diane Fry, who have appeared in twelve novels set in England’s beautiful and atmospheric Peak District.

Stephen has been a Gold Dagger finalist, an Anthony Award nominee, twice winner of a Barry Award for Best British Crime Novel, and twice shortlisted for the Theakston’s Crime Novel of the Year. Ben Cooper was a finalist for the Sherlock Award for the best detective created by a British author, and in 2003 the Crime Writers’ Association presented Stephen with the Dagger in the Library Award for “the author whose books have given readers the most pleasure”.

The Cooper & Fry series is published all around the world, and has been translated into 15 languages. The latest title is DEAD AND BURIED, with a new book, ALREADY DEAD, published in June 2013.
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Q&A with Stephen Booth

Do you draw from personal experiences and/or current events?
I think all writers make use of their personal experiences, though they may not be recognisable by the time they appear in a fictional story. In fact, it’s quite therapeutic to take something that’s happened to you and write about! I try to make my Cooper & Fry novels as contemporary as possible, so my characters’ lives will be affected by things happening in the real world at the time. Actually, since I’m working on a novel up to 12 months before it’s published, I’m trying to predict the future a bit.

Do you start with the conclusion and plot in reverse or start from the beginning and see where the storyline brings you?
When I set out to write a new book, I have no idea what’s going to happen, or how it will end. I write in a very ‘organic’ way, starting with vague ideas about a few characters and a place they belong to. I write around them until I start to know who they are. Then I put them into a situation where they’re under pressure (this will normally involve a murder or a dead body, of course!), and I watch what they do. So the story arises out of the characters, and it’s always a discovery process for me as I write it. Luckily, I’m writing about police detectives, so I rely on them to do their part of the job and ask all the questions!

Your routine when writing?  Any idiosyncrasies?
I’m one of those writers who doesn’t really have a routine. I know the way to kick-start the creative process at any time of the day is to sit down and start writing. But I do most of my writing in the evening, sometimes into the early hours of the morning. It’s quieter then, with fewer distractions. One of the drawbacks to working from home is that everyone knows you’re there and available! So it’s hard to create the sort of structured working day you have in most jobs. When I’m writing, I tend to listen either to music, or to drama and talk programmes on the radio. Something I’ve just heard in the background can often pop an idea into my head (BBC Radio 4 is wonderful for this).

Is writing your full time job?  If not, may I ask what you do by day?
Yes, I’ve been a full-time writer for the past 12 years. Before that, I was a newspaper journalist. I started my first reporter’s job at the age of 21, after I graduated – so I suppose writing (or at least editing) has always been my job.

Who are some of your favorite authors?
I grew up on Agatha Christie and the great, classic British crime novelists (who all seemed to be female). Of that older generation, the writer who can still produce something new and interesting after all this time is Ruth Rendell. Some of her books, like ‘A Judgement in Stone’, are extraordinary achievements. But I have many other favourites, including Reginald Hill, Peter Robinson and Michael Connelly.

What are you reading now?
I’ve been asked by the British Library to write introductions for two novels being re-issued in their Classic Crime series. They’re by a long-forgotten British mystery writer from the Golden Age called M. Doriel Hay, and they’re classics of their period.

Are you working on your next novel?  Can you tell us a little about it?
Yes, I’m currently writing book #14 in the Cooper and Fry series, which is called ‘The Corpse Bridge’. I hope the title suggests there might be a dead body or two! The story uses an aspect of the Peak District’s history and folklore to create a modern-day mystery. The old ‘corpse ways’ were routes taken by mourners carrying a coffin for burial, sometimes for miles over difficult terrain. When the local land-owning aristocrat decides to re-develop the villagers’ burial ground for his own commercial gain, new corpses start to appear…

Your novel will be a movie.  Who would you cast?
I’m asked this question a lot, since the Cooper and Fry novels are currently in development for a TV series in the UK. And readers definitely have their own opinions! But as an author I think it’s very risky to start getting pictures of an actor in my head. There are no actors exactly like my mental image of Ben Cooper or Diane Fry, and the danger is that you can lose your original character if you focus too much on an actor. If and when it comes to casting, it will be someone else’s interpretation of the character, and I’m quite relaxed about that.

Would you rather read or watch TV/movie?
No contest here! I must be one of the few people left in the world who doesn’t own a TV (and I never have). For me, there’s a huge difference. When you’re watching TV, the story is going on over there in the corner of the room. But when you’re reading a book, the story is taking place inside your head. And the pictures are better too! I do watch movies, but I tend to go for something spectacular and undemanding, where I’m not expected get involved with the characters too much. Cinema does that very well.

Favorite food?
Cantonese Dim Sum

Favorite beverage?
I’m a rare teetotal Brit, so an Apple and Mango juice will suit me, thanks!



The helicopters are halted. The search for fifteen-year-old Laura Vernon ends when her body is found, murdered, in the forest.

On his hunt for the killer, detective Ben Cooper begins to suspect the people of Derbyshire are guarding some dark secrets-secrets that Laura might have known. Further complicating his investigation, Cooper is paired with an unfamiliar partner: Diane Fry, a woman as tenacious as she is alluring. Together they learn that in order to understand the town’s present, they must unearth its past.

Black Dog is like Twin Peaks by way of Tana French, and the first novel in the multiple award-winning Cooper and Fry series.


The spot where Ben Cooper stood was remote and isolated. A passing walker wouldn’t have been able to see him up here among the bracken, even if he’d bothered to look up.

Cooper turned round, wafting his hand across his face against the flies. He was looking through the trees and thick brambles as if towards the end of a dark tunnel, where the figure of Harry Dickinson was framed in a network of branches. Cooper had to squint against a patch of dazzling light that soaked the hillside in strong colours. The old man stood in the glare of the low sun, with hot rocks shimmering around him like a furnace. The haze of heat made his outline blur and writhe, as if he were dancing a slow shimmy. His shadow, flung across the rocks, seemed to wriggle and jerk as its shape fragmented among the bracken and brambles.

 The expression in Harry’s eyes was unreadable, his face lying partly in the shade from the peak of his cap. Cooper couldn’t even tell which way he was looking, whether he’d turned away or was staring directly towards him in the trees. He wanted to grab the old man by the shoulders and shake him. He wanted to tell him that somebody had disturbed this spot, and recently. The evidence was right there for anyone to see, and to smell.

 There had been two people here, and at least one of them had been looking for more than just rabbits. The smell that lingered under the trees was of stale blood. And the flies had found something even more attractive than Cooper’s sweat to feed on.


Genre: Fiction/Crime
Published by: Witness / HarperCollins
Publication Date: 10/8/2013
ISBN: 9780062301963
Series: 1st in the Ben Cooper & Diane Fry Series




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