Val McDermid, A Distant Echo (2003)

This psychological thriller is regarded as a stand-alone, but McDermid recycles police officers from other novels, e.g. Karen Pirie who reappears in “A Darker Domain”

In 1978 Pretty young Rosie Duff is raped and stabbed and left to die in an old Pictish cemetery. Four young students from St Andrews University find her in the middle of the night on their way home from the pub. They alert the police, and of course they are key witnesses, but as nobody else has been seen around the hill that night they wake up in the morning, hung-over and shocked to realize that the police regard them as suspects.

Twenty-four years later Assistant Chief Constable James Lawson is appointed leader of the new cold case unit. The main task of the unit is to look for unsolved murder cases which may be solved through the aid of DNA, and soon they pick up Rosie´s murder, a case from Lawson´s time in uniform.

The novel offers the story of a crime, but also of the long shadows it casts on the family, the suspects and anybody who is involved in the investigation. It explores what a serious crime does to suspects and relatives of the victim when there is no closure.

In many ways a fine story, but it struck me as a bit overly dramatic in places, and I guessed who the perpetrator was a bit too early. Yet a less-than-perfect McDermid is better than so much else out there so on the whole I enjoyed rushing through this page-turner which I bought myself.

About Dorte Hummelshøj Jakobsen

I am a Danish teacher. In my spare time I read, write and review crime fiction.
This entry was posted in review, review 2011, Scottish, Val McDermid. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Val McDermid, A Distant Echo (2003)

  1. Margot Kinberg says:

    Dorte – Thanks for this fine review. That’s the thing about unsolved crimes; they don’t allow any closure for those affected. And I’m glad you mention Lawson, too. I think it’s easy to forget that lack of closure affects those who investigate crime, too.

  2. This doesn’t sound too gory – I think I’d get on OK with this book. Advances in technology have certainly made a difference to solving crimes and this sounds a satisfactory result – even if it was easy to guess the perpetrator. Sometimes I enjoy that as much as the more puzzling crime fiction novels.

  3. Kelly says:

    Very good review. I think lack of closure would be a terrible thing and I’m sure it takes its toll on both the family AND those investigating the case. I really do need to read more by this author.

  4. Margot: McDermid creates this kind of plot very well.

    Margaret: no, it is not nearly as nasty as her Hill & Jordan series. It is not her very best, yet I´d give it 3-4 stars.

    Kelly: yes, murder is horrible, and this angle makes the book credible and touching in many ways.

  5. I tend to rush through a book too when I can tell the ending! Sounds like a good read.
    Book Dilettante

  6. Harvee: it was a good and exciting story, “A Darker Domain” is just better.

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