for the first half or so of Stephen Booth's The Dead Place; I read all of Booth's mystery novels in a fit of great enthusiasm a few years ago (before I was blogging I think), liked the characters and the high-quality writing and the good Derbyshire landscape stuff & recommended them to various friends including M. who recently loaned me this one. But somehow it didn't win me over at first--I found myself wondering whether it's weaker than the others, or if my tastes have changed & I wouldn't like the earlier ones now either, or if perhaps I have just hardened my heart in general against series crime fiction (like Tod Goldberg).
Two minor details symptomatic of my irritation, each given twice rather than once which drew my ire:
(1) "personal stereo." Yes, this book is written in fairly impersonal third-person narration, with two point-of-view characters we alternate between. But in this case (and of course there are always exceptions, this is just the basic rule) the language needs to be fairly close to the way the characters are perceiving things, and both of these two are, say, latish twenties or early thirties. "Personal stereo"--ah, that's completely out of date! Maybe it was once standard usage in England, surely it never was in America (you always would say walkman or discman even if it was the off-brand), and now wouldn't you say iPod or MP3 player or whatever? It is the way an older person might speak of something completely foreign to him, it is hardly the phrase a 28-year-old English cop uses to name/conceptualize the thing the teenager's got on his head or whatever. Dowdy.
(2) I am admittedly a hyphenation freak, I love hyphens and have inflexible theories as to how they should be used, but not only is the phrase fine-tooth comb a cliche, it should NEVER be given (especially not TWICE!) as "fine tooth-comb." That shows someone just not attending to the meaning of words.
And there are a few other continuity glitches of a kind that particularly annoy me (a woman's wearing jeans on one page, corduroys on the next, that sort of thing).
However I found the second half more gripping than the first, so perhaps it really was just my mood? Or perhaps the second half is a return to original form. We will never know, but other opinions on Booth are welcomed in the comments.