Dancing with the Virgins: A Constable Ben Cooper Novel
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, and violence 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.