Stephen Booth: Third Degree

Award-winning crime author Stephen Booth has written 11 mysteries involving the detectives Ben Cooper and Diane Fry with a distinctive, sometimes menacing Peak District setting. He was a newspaper and magazine journalist for 25 years before publishing the first Cooper/Fry novel, Black Dog, in 2000. crimetimepreview quizzed him about his criminal viewing activities… 

Your favourite British crime series or thriller on TV?

New Tricks. Some great character actors in that cast. Or perhaps Life on Mars, for the same reason.

Favourite US crime series or thriller on TV?

Law & Order: Criminal Intent with Vincent D’Onofrio.

Top TV cop?

It’s a difficult one. But for sheer longevity without losing my interest, I would have to say Inspector Frost

Which unfilmed book/character should be made into a TV drama?

Stuart Pawson’s Inspector Charlie Priest series has been overlooked for too long.

If one of your novels were filmed, who would you cast to be the hero?

There are no actors who exactly fit my picture of Ben Cooper or Diane Fry. But readers often write to tell me who they visualise when they’re reading the books. Usually, their ideas are quite different from mine! But I don’t mind – in fact, I like people to interpret the characters in their own way. Any TV or film adaptation would involve someone else’s interpretation of Ben or Diane, of course. And, as long as the actors do a good job, that’s fine by me.

What do you watch with a guilty conscience?

Some of the shows which I know are complete fantasy, like CSI or Waking the Dead. I watch them the way I would a science fiction  series – with a massive suspension of disbelief! But it’s fun to go along for the ride.

Least favourite cop show/thrillers?

I was very disappointed in the Wycliffe series, based on the books by W. J. Burley. I liked the books, but on screen the central character of Wycliffe became rather unpleasant and creepy.

Do you prefer The Wire or The Sopranos?

I’ve never seen The Sopranos, which I know puts me in a tiny minority. So it would have to be The Wire.

Marple/Poirot or Sherlock Holmes?

Sherlock. He’s a much more complex and flawed character.

Wallander – BBC or the Swedish version?

Oh, definitely the Swedish version with Krister Henriksson. I really believe in him as Wallander. Kenneth Branagh has never convinced me – nor does Rolf Lassgård in the earlier Swedish version.

US or British television crime dramas?

British, as long as they’re well scripted and properly cast. There’s a lot of stuff that isn’t.

Your favourite crime/thriller writers?

Peter Robinson, John Harvey, Reginald Hill, Ruth Rendell… and a whole lot more. Among US writers, the top man is Michael Connelly.

Favourite non-crime/thriller author

Douglas Adams. I once signed a few copies of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy on his behalf. He was dead by then, so I didn’t think he would mind.

Favourite crime movie or thriller?


You’ve been framed for murder. Which fictional detective/sleuth would you want to call up?

Well, none of those out-of-control drunks with personality disorders, thank you very much! I’d want someone I could trust to do a really good job. Like, say… Jules Maigret. He’d be about 130 years old now, though.

Stephen’s latest Cooper and Fry mystery, The Devil’s Edge, is published in the UK on 7 April. 


  1. Nice article, Stephen. You have very similar tastes to me when it comes to crime fiction.

  2. Hi Pauline, I’ve just reviewed Stephen’s latest, The Devil’s Edge, for Shots and found it very atmospheric and quite spooky in places for a crime novel. A very good mystery. And I agree with him on Wycliffe.

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