This book could have been considerably shorter and edited a bit more and would have been a very suspenseful and fast paced story. Instead its a very slow paced and clunky mystery, mainly to the true accounting conceit at the start of the book.
13 year old Alison Carter has gone missing from the small English village of Scardale in 1963. Several other children from surrounding villages have also disappeared, and not been found, adding to the mystery.
Her story is told in three parts
1.) A young and newly promoted Detective Inspector is consumed by the case, and working with his partner solves the mystery of her disappearance.
2.) A trial ensues, in which the entire case is rehashed, with almost every step of the investigation retold.
3.) Thirty five years later an investigative journalist decides to write the story of Alison Carter with the cooperation of the Detective Inspector who worked the case. Just as the book is to be published the Detective refuses to allow the publication of the book, as new information has been discovered; information he refuses to speak about.
The book could have done without the entire second part, and this would have sped up the pace of the story. The book seemed at times over descriptive. A series of coincidences that are hard to believe also bring the story down a notch.
There are several things I did like in this book. There is a very gothic and claustrophobic feeling about the village of Scardale. I also liked the characters of the two detectives, George Bennett and Tommy Clough and the procedural aspects of the police work, and these things did make the book a worth while read. However I did figure out the mystery almost from the start, and was not as surprised at the twist ending as I suppose the author thought I should be. I will probably give McDermid another go, hopefully with better results.
Thirty-five years ago, a young girl vanishes from her small village in England. The police try desperately to solve the case with no luck. The case sticks with one particular detective who uncovers shocking information about the crime. He tells the story to a journalist, but as the book is be released, the detective changes his mind and keeps the secret. The book's author must then go out on her own to solve the decades-old mystery. A good mystery that keeps you interested. If you are a fan of "cold case" mysteries, this one is a winner.