Dead in the Dark by Stephen Booth // Dying Alone \\ Book Review

I read the Dead in the Dark by Stephen Booth last year (2022- December, lol). After finishing it, when I was reading the book review, I found out that this is the 17th part of the Ben Cooper and Diane Fry series.

So there is a large backstory, and context I missed while reading the book. However, this story is standalone and does not rely on any thread of the previous books in the series.

But still, I will not suggest anyone read the 17th part. Till then, the writers already have a great grasp of the character traits that readers like. They are writing to a specific audience and fans, not a wide audience. Their target is focal, and everyone else is irrelevant.

For example, Cassandra Clare. Her shadowhunter series is very popular. She is not writing it for everyone. But a small group of people who are her fans would buy anything from her.

Well, Dead in the Dark is a below-average book. The genre is a police investigation. Dead in the Dark is not a crime-focused book. It is more of a story of a police department solving murder cases.

However, one expects some pacing, action and gritty investigation. Frankly speaking, the image of police officers are not very good in society. They are paid goons to protect the rich people. But we need people who solve murders, so the people who do murders know that they will be found and that justice will be delivered. The ethics of state-sponsored militia is a debate for some other blog posts.

In Dead in the Dark, the police officers are good people. Trying their hardest to find the true culprit, solving crimes, being non-racist, and protecting minorities.

Murder Investigation

The framework of the story is quite common. An unsolved murder comes again into the limelight after the suspect/related person goes missing. This time, they have better technology and more depressing police officers on the case. But in the end, the key turn of the case will come when a new witness is discovered, and another witness will say he lied at the time because he was hiding something trivial.

The formula is super usable, but not everyone can do it right. Stephen Booth does not do a great job here, but it is not the worst.

A woman goes missing and her husband is the suspect in the murder, like in every novel of this type. But the case does not move anywhere as there is no dead body. And when police have some sort of lead, then the victim’s father informs that he has spotted the girl.

The case died. 10 years later, the husband goes missing, and now the case reopens.

Another case is of a dead polish person. It could be a hate crime. There is a dead boy due to fire. And several other cases too.

The police department is struggling with the resources, trying to solve murders and running here & there to talk to people connected to the murder. On paper, it is not very exciting to read.

The writing is also not that edgy. The style of the writers is not about hooking up the reader. It is to let the reader read the book. Sometimes, it feels like the book does not want you to continue to read it. It becomes challenging to complete this book.

The twist was not that great, either. It was again easily ended, without any mental gymnastics. Then there is the entire arc of repeating the case, but with a different person.

What was that? What was the motive, then?

The end chapter was the highlight of the book. For the first time, we read it from the victim’s PoV. But the writer plays it down with a single line. ‘Why would anyone come?’

On the one hand, it is sad, but on the other hand, it comes across as if she knows she deserves this. No one deserves to die alone in the dark. The last book I read, the God of Small Things, also have a victim dying alone.

Dying alone

More and more people are dying alone nowadays. I remember a piece I read in which the journalist explores what happens to the body if the person dies alone without any relatives/friends/guardians. It was sad and eye-opening. The way the system takes care of the dead body and the remnants.

In the book, the girl dies in mines, all alone and in the dark. It also reminds me of the boy who went to Nutty Putty cave for trekking. There was some terrible corner in the cave where he was stuck. He dies there, alone, in the dark. But he was not alone, his family was there, outside of the cave.

The sadness lasts forever – it is what Van Gogh said alone in his room before dying. And it will last forever for those who died alone in the dark.

Blanket of Sadness

Several books are written sadly. Maybe the writer is sad, or the characters are. The writing, the words, the sentences, and even the happy ones culminate to create a gloomy atmosphere.

Tell the Wolves, Made of Stars, Case Histories, Life After Life, Jellicoe Road, Midwinterblood, Surrender – so many books with sad writing. Dead in the Dark is the same.

Do I recommend Dead in the Dark?

No. It is boring. If you are following Ben Cooper and Diane from the first part, you might find their character engaging. But as a stand-alone book, it is no different or better than other police dramas – except it is slow and theoretical.

Book Summary
Dead In The Dark

Dead in the Dark by Stephen Booth is a police investigation to uncover the events of a girl missing 10 years ago. Now the husband is missing, and the police are in action.


Author: Stephen Booth

Editor's Rating:

Faizan Fahim

Hello, welcome to this blog. Just writing reviews of the book I like. Also, favorite quotes, poetry, memes, sometimes other topics too, but always related to literature. So join me on Twitter to talk to me.

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