9780002326926 / 0002326922

A Place Of Execution


Publisher:HarperCollins Publishers



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About the book:

Val McDermid is known for the violence, and tension, of her writing. Both The Mermaids Singing, which won the Gold Dagger Award for Best Crime Novel of 1995, and The Wire in the Blood (1997) are monuments to the human capacity for torture (and the psychological profiling supposed to counter it). No less thrilling, A Place of Execution is, however, a different kind of book. On one level, it is about the disappearance of a schoolgirl, Alison Carter, in December 1963: a girl from a tiny Derbyshire village whose disappearance turns into a personal quest for the detective heading the investigation, George Bennett. Resisting comparisons with real events in Manchester (what are now known as the "Moors Murders"), Bennett is confronted with the strange and isolated community of Scardale: a community reputed to be a "a law unto itself", it may well harbour the kind of secret which allows murder to reverberate across the generations. Building slowly with lots of suspense, McDermid takes her readers through Bennett's investigation and the trial that follows, projecting back to the beginning of the 1960s a very contemporary anxiety about the "desecration of childhood". It's an intelligent and compelling move, one that sustains the book's shift to the present and Bennett's return to the case decades later when he tells his story to the journalist Catherine Heathcote. Heathcote is a woman who wants to know; complex, thoughtful, skilfully plotted, A Place of Execution suggests how unsettling that knowledge can be. --Vicky Lebeau

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