A Place of Execution

A Place of Execution

Book - 2000
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Winter 1963: two children have disappeared off the streets of Manchester; the murderous careers of Myra Hindley and Ian Brady have begun. On a freezlng day in December, another child goes missing: thirteen-year-old Alison Carter vanishes from her town, an insular community that distrusts the outside world. For the young George Bennett, a newly promoted inspector, it is the beginning of his most difficult and harrowing case: a murder with no body, an investigation with more dead ends and closed faces than he'd have found in the anonymity of the inner city, and an outcome which reverberates through the years.

Decades later he finally tells his story to journalist Catherine Heathcote, but just when the book is poised for publication, Bennett unaccountably tries to pull the plug. He has new information which he refuses to divulge, new information that threatens the very foundations of his existence. Catherine is forced to re-investigate the past, with results that turn the world upside down.

A Greek tragedy in modern England, A Place of Execution is a taut psychological thriller that explores, exposes and explodes the border between reality and illusion in a multi-layered narrative that turns expectations on their head and reminds us that what we know is what we do not know.   A Place of Execution is winner of the 2000 Los Angeles Times Book Prize and a 2001 Edgar Award Nominee for Best Novel.
Publisher: New York : St. Martin's Minotaur, 2000.
Edition: 1st U.S. ed.
ISBN: 9780312266325
Characteristics: 403 p. ; 25 cm.


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Aug 31, 2017

This was my first novel by Val McDermid and it probably won't be my last. The author uses dates for chapter headings to show what was done during the investigation, new evidence found later, charges, trial proceedings and its outcome and the emergence of new evidence that appeared after the retirement of the investigating officers. The novel captured my interest right at the beginning but later I found the repetition of the events during interviews, reports in the local newspapers, and finally trial proceedings to be a drag and overly long. The story doesn't end with the capture and trial of the perpetrator, however. My interest picked up again when McDermid continues the story 35 years later. The real story is in that last section and is a shocker. This book turned out to be a page turner after all.

Feb 27, 2016

I didn't enjoy Val McDermid's "The Skeleton Road", but I decided to give her novels a second chance with "A Place of Execution". A missing 13-year-old girl becomes the center of Inspector George Bennett's life as he works tirelessly to try to find out what has happened to her.

The novel was extremely long and dragged at points, especially since I had a good idea as to where the author was going with the plot. I was correct in my thinking (albeit with a slight twist). The novel might have been more interesting if I had not figured this out so quickly. I couldn't connect with any of the characters and I found the "atmosphere" of the novel depressing.

Val McDermid can bring a scene to life with her detailed descriptions. For example, when the missing girl's dog (Shep) is found and is brought home to the mother (Ruth):

...Ruth hadn't even moved when he'd opened the door. It was the sound of the dog's claws on the stone flags that had dragged her eyes away from the window. When she turned, the dog had dropped to the floor and, whimpering, crawled toward Ruth on her belly.
"We found Shep tied up in the woods," George had said. "Someone had taped her mouth shut. With elastoplast."
Ruth's eyes widened and her mouth twisted in a rictus of pain. "No," she protested weakly. "That can't be right." She dropped to her knees beside the dog, who was squirming around her ankles in a parody of obsequious apology. Ruth buried her face in the dog's ruff, clutching the animal to her as if it were a child. A long pink tongue licked her ear.

I thought that passage was well-written and tugged on the heart-strings.

Dec 18, 2013

I literally could not put this book down.


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