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.
This is by far one of the best books I've read this year. Val McDermid is a new author for me and did not disappoint. I was a little taken aback by the English style writing, now always my favorite, but soon eased right into the language and slang. Great charactors, great mystery. Highly recommended.
Not the most interesting book by McDermid. A tale of pedophilia, alleged murder, and revenge that could have been much more interesting had the author engaged a stronger editor. Much of the book could have been edited out. I lost interest about 1/3 of the way in and kept plodding along just because I thought it would surely pick up in another page or two.
There are far more interesting books out there. Read them instead!
On a freezing day in December 1963, thirteen-year-old Alison Carter vanishes from her village. Nothing will ever be the same again for the inhabitants of the isolated hamlet in the English countryside. A young George Bennett, a newly-promoted inspector, he is determined to solve this caseeven if it just to bring home a daughter's dead body to her mother.
As days progress, the likelihood that Alison has been murdered increases when a gruesome discovery is made in a cave. But with no corpse, the barest of clues, and an investigation that turns up more questions than answers, Bennett finds himself up against a stone wall...until he learns the shocking trutha truth that will have far-reaching consequences.
Decades later, Bennett finally tells his story to journalist Catherine Heathcote. But just when the book is posed for publication, he pulls the plug on it without explanation. He has new information that he will not divulge. Refusing to let the past remain a mystery, Catherine sets out to uncover what really happened to Alison Carter. But the secret is one she might wish she'd left buried on that cold, dark day thirty-five years ago.
A truly great mystery and an intense read!
From the back cover:
"On a freezing day in 1963, thirteen year old Alison Carter vanishes from her village. Newly-promoted Inspector George Bennett is determined to solve the case--even if it is to bring Alison's body home to her mother. As days progress, the likelihood that Alison has been murdered increases when a gruesome discovery is made in a cave. Bennett finds himself up against a stone wall--until he learns the shocking truth...Decades later, Bennett finally tells his story to journalist Catherine Heathcote. But, just when the book is poised for publication, he pulls the plug without explanation. Catherine sets out to uncover what really happened to Alison Carter. But the secret is one she might wish she'd left buried on that cold, dark day thirty-five years ago."
A strong but often boring book. Storyline was great, ending was superb...but I found myself bored with some of the longer sections...but I'm not overly found of british countryside & rural stories to begin with! With that said, I read the entire book and the ending really raised my evaluation. Stick with it and you'll also view it well.
In December 1963, thirteen-year-old Alison Carter vanishes from an isolated village in the English countryside. Her disappearance is investigated by newly promoted inspector George Bennett. The people of the village don't like outsiders, so George must earn their trust in order to solve the case. As days pass and clues are uncovered, George believes he will not be finding Alison alive.
This story is told in basically three parts. First we have the disappearance and the procedural investigation. Next we have an arrest and trial. The last section of the book happens 35 years later, when George tells his story to a journalist who is writing a story about the murder of Alison Carter. Suddenly George asks that the book not be published because he has discovered new information that he will not divulge. The journalist sets out to discover what really happened in the small village in 1963.
Even though I thought the book was a little too wordy and could have been edited better, I was hooked from the start, wanting to know what happened to Alison. Most authors would have ended the mystery after the arrest and trial, but McDermid continues the story 35 years later where some surprising revelations are uncovered. If you like police procedurals or mysteries with a twist, you'll like this book. My rating: 4 Stars. (It would have been 4.5 if the book was streamlined and cut about 75 pages out of it.)
An weird book to me. I found it easy to put down but also felt oddly impatient to get through it. I think the problem was the twist. You know going into the story there's a big twist, so obviously everything that happens in the beginning is a lie. This made the first half of the book feel like a waste of time. Then we get down to the "shocking" information, which the reader has figured out a hundred pages ago. Lots of coincidences have to happen for this to come to light. I did like the setting, and I did like Bennett and Clough; I thought their total manipulation by the residents of Scardale was maybe a little unlikely. I think it's well-written; maybe psychological thrillers just aren't for me.