Black Dog By Stephen Booth

Detective Constable Ben Cooper has known the villagers all his life, hut his instinctive feelings about the case are called into question by the arrival of Diane Fry, a rutblesslv ambitious DC from another division. As Ben and Diane take the first steps in a complicated dance of suspicion, attraction and frustration, they discover that to understand the past and in a world where no one is entirely innocent, pain and suffering can be the only outcome.

‘Stephen Booth’s Black Dog sinks it’s teeth into you and doesn’t let you go. Powerful, atmospheric and as dark as it’s title, it is a serious novel of character and relationships as well as an ingeniously plotted and neatly resolved detective story. A dark star may be born!. Reginald Hill


Black Dog

stephen booth



This edition published 2000

by BCA

by arranm’iru’nl with Collins Crime An imprint of I larperCollinsPuWis/iers

CN 8882

This novel is entirely a work of fiction. The names, characters and incidents portrayed in it are the work of the author’s imagination.

Any resemblance to actual persons, living

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or dead, events or localities is entirely coincidental.

Copyright S Stephen Booth 2000 The author asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this work

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted,

in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical,

photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior

permission of the publishers. Printed and bound in Great Britain by

Typeset in Perpetua by Palimpsest Book Production Limited, Polmont, Stirlingshire

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Printed and bound in Great Britain by Mackays of Chatham pic, Chatham, Kent

For Leslev

black dog; . melancholy, depression of spirits; ill humour. In some country places, when a child is sulking, it is said ‘the black dog is on his back . (Oxford English Dictionary)


1 he sudden glare of colours beat painfully on the young woman’s eyes as she burst from the back door of the cottage and hurled herself into the brightness. She ran with her bare


feet slapping on the stone flags and her hair streaming in red knots from her naked shoulders.

A harsh voice was cut off suddenly when the door slammed behind her, isolating her from the house. As she sprinted the length of the garden, she stirred the dust from a flagged path whose moisture had been sucked out and swallowed by the sun. A scarlet shrub rose trailed halfway across the path and a thorn slit the flesh of her arm as she brushed against it, but she hardly felt the pain.

‘Wait!’ she called.

But the old wooden garden gate had banged shut on its spring before she could reach it. She threw herself on to the top of the dry-stone wall, flinging out an arm to clutch at the sleeve of the old man on the other side. He was wearing a woollen jacket, despite the heat, and his arm felt stiff and sinewy under the cloth. The young woman scrabbled for a firmer grip, feeling his muscles slide against the bones under her fingers as if she

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had plunged her hand deep into his body.

Harry Dickinson paused, held back only by the hand that touched his arm, turning his face away from the appeal in his granddaughter’s eyes. The only change in his expression was a slight tightening in the creases at the sides of his mouth as his gaze slipped past Helen to the row of stone cottages. The stone walls and the white- mullioned back windows were at last starting to cool in the early-evening shade, but the sun still

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glared low over the slate roofs, bad-tempered and unrelenting. The pupils of Harry’s eyes narrowed to expressionless black points until he tilted his head sideways to turn the peak of his cap into the sun.

Helen could smell the impregnated odours of earth and sweat

and animals in the wool, overlaid by the familiar scent of old tobacco smoke. ‘It’s no good walking away, you know. You’ll have to face it in the end. You can’t run avvav from things


for ever.’

A loud juddering sound made Harry flinch as it passed across the valley behind him. For an hour now the noise had been moving backwards and forwards over the dense woodland that covered the slope all the way down to the valley bottom. The sound echoed against the opposite hillside like the beating wings of an angry bird, battering the gorse and heather and alarming

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the sheep scattered on the upper slopes.

‘We’ll understand,’ said Helen. ‘We’re your family. If only you’d tell us …’

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