Dancing With the Virgins (Cooper & Fry, Book 2)
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"She was spread against the ground in a final arabesque, in a fatal pirouette or the last fling of an abandoned tango....A dead woman dancing. She looked like a dead woman, dancing."
Stephen Booth, one of the most acclaimed new voices in crime fiction, takes us to a remote region of northern England where a prehistoric ring of stones, the Nine Virgins, harbors a dark legend. With winter looming, a tenth figure soon joins the circle: the body of young cyclist Jenny Weston, whose limbs are carefully arranged in death to parody a woman dancing.
Weeks earlier, another woman, Maggie Crew, was attacked nearby, her face savagely cut open. Is there a maniac on the loose, knifing women at random? Maggie may hold the answer, but she has no memory of the attack. The painful images are buried deep in her wounded psyche. It will take time and patience to convince Maggie to face the demons of her past.
But are the two crimes -- Jenny's murder and Maggie's assault -- linked by something other than geography? Was there a prior connection between the two women? Why was Jenny cycling alone on that cool November day? What precious object did she carry in a pouch around her waist? And what of other mysterious people in the region -- two drifters who practice strange rituals, a Peak Park ranger with a shameful secret, a desperate farmer whose own children fear him?
Detectives Ben Cooper and Diane Fry struggle to make sense of a motiveless murder and of their own relationship, which increasingly seems past repair. Where once there was attraction, now there is antagonism. But personal problems must wait. The moors have witnessed more bloodshed than either Ben or Diane realizes, andviolence is to beget more violence before Jenny's killer is found.
A brooding, stylish psychological thriller, deeply evocative of a very special place, "Dancing with the Virgins" confirms Stephen Booth's reputation as a gifted author of richly nuanced crime fiction.
said: “I saw her face.” Simon, I think you saw her after she was dead.’ ‘Oh.’ Stride shifted uncomfortably in the bed, his face pale. ‘Do you need more painkillers?’ ‘No, don’t worry.’ ‘It looks uncomfortable.’ ‘Yeah. Will you tell me something?’ ‘What?’ ‘Is this what anal sex is like?’ Cooper blinked. Stride laughed at his expression, and his fingers went to his mouth. Men in the other beds turned to look at them. They were already curious about Stride. ‘No, you wouldn’t know, would
Don’t you know by now that I can’t give it to you? Isn’t that in my file?’ ‘If we keep trying –’ ‘You think you might be able to make me remember. Then what? My memories might be able to help you, yes. But what will they do to me? What if I don’t want to remember? What if my subconscious has wiped out the memories?’ ‘Do you think that’s the case?’ ‘The doctors say there is no physiological reason for the memory loss. There is no damage to my brain. They tell me it’s probably shock; they call
Author’s Note About the Author Also by Stephen Booth Copyright About the Publisher 1 On the day the first woman died, Mark Roper had radio trouble. At the start of his shift, he had been patrolling in the valley, in the deep dead spot where the gritstone plateau blocked out the signal from the telephone interface point at Bradwell. The silence had been unnerving, even then. It had made him conscious of his isolation in the slowly dying landscape, and it had begun to undermine his
is!’ He thrust the leaf into Cooper’s hands. It smelled damp and green and broken. Cooper held it lightly, not sure what to do with it, reluctant just to walk away, too intrigued by the performance to stop it. ‘The male organs release sperm. Oh, yes. We know about sperm, don’t we? But ferns . . . their sperm use the rain water. See? The leaves are always damp up here, in the autumn, so the sperm can travel through the moisture to reach the female organs and fertilize the eggs. And then a new
as the cattle thundered up the ramp into the wagon. He watched in amazement as Fry clambered from pen to pen. ‘You could hurt yourself doing that,’ he said. Looking around for someone to blame, Fry saw a dark-haired youth in a pair of green wellingtons coming towards her. ‘I nearly got trampled by those animals then,’ she said. ‘Aren’t there any precautions?’ The youth merely chortled, flapping uneven teeth at her as he passed. Behind him, Abel Pilkington himself glowered from the wall of the