Caedmon's Song Paperback – Jun 4 2004
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'A long, oily blackness punctuated by quick, vivid dreams ...They were all just dreams. She couldn't possibly see these things, could she? Her eyes were closed. And if they really happened, then she would have screamed out from the pain, wouldn't she?' On a balmy June night, Kirsten, a young university student, strolls home through a silent moonlit park. Suddenly, her tranquil mood is shattered as she is viciously attacked. When she awakes in hospital, she has no recollection of that brutal night. But then, slowly and painfully, details reveal themselves - dreams of two figures, one white and one black, hovering over her, wisps of a strange and haunting song; the unfamiliar texture of a rough and deadly hand...In another part of England, Martha Browne arrives in Whitby, posing as an author doing research for a book. But her research is of a particularly macabre variety. Who is she hunting with such deadly determination? And why?
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Add to this vivid scenery of English countrysides and fishing villages, careful character planning, and almost effortless plot development, and this book is most definately a stunner.
If you don't read this one, you're mad.
It's a warm summer night and a young university student, Kirsten has not got a care in the world as she strolls home through a moonlit park. Suddenly here tranquil mood is shattered as she is brutally attacked. Later when she wakes up in hospital. She has no recollection of that night, or who attacked her. But then, slowly, as if in a waking nightmare the details slowly begin to reveal themselves . . .
Kirsten, a young uni graduate attacked and left for dead by a serial killer, survives the attack but with terrible, disfiguring injuries. The novel tells the story of Kirsten's recovery, side-by-side with the vigilante journey of Kirsten's avenging angel alter-ego, Martha Browne. Whilst slightly confusing to begin with, the structure of the novel soon becomes utterly gripping as Kirsten/Martha goes to extraordinary length to track down her attacker in order to extract her own form of justice.
As a psychological thriller, the book succeeds mightily. I devoured it in one-and-a-bit sittings! A fantastic read that pulls you in from page one and never lets go. I have no hesitation in rating it 5 star and urge all lovers of the psychological thriller/crime genre to read it.
Whitby is a coastal town in the north-east of England, and apparently relies heavily on the fishing and tourism industries. When Martha Browne arrives in Whitby in the early autumn, she doesn't have much bother finding a guest house. However, while she tells her landlord she's in town to research a book, it's pretty clear she's arrived to cause someone in Whitby a great deal of trouble. More than that, it seems she may be a little unhinged. (She has arrived with a `talisman' - a small, glass paperweight - and appears to believe that Caedmon - a poet who lived in Whitby in the 7th Century - "was the one who had called her here.")
Kirsten, on the other hand, has just finished her university exams, and will soon be graduating with first class honours. She's originally from just outside Bath, in the south of England - which, of course, means a rich family - although she chose to study in the north. In a bid to stay away from home, she and her boyfriend, Galen, are planning on taking postgrad courses in Toronto. On the night we meet her, she's celebrating her exam results with some friends - although Galen is at home, following his grandmother's death. The group of friends have had their difficulties over the years, but they've all remained close. (Hugo would prefer he and Kirsten were a little closer, but she's a devoted girlfriend to Galen). After being thrown out of the pub, they go to a party at a friends place for a while. Kirsten leaves alone, and walks home through the park - where she is, unfortunately, attacked. She only comes round ten days later, in hospital, with no memory of what happened to her. However, bearing in mind what actually happened to her, that may be something of a blessing...
The book switches back and forward, laying out Kirsten's recovery and Martha's search side by side. Martha seems a very cold, calculating individual and there's very little in the way of warmth or tenderness about her - but, right from the off, there's clearly a link between the two women. It doesn't take too long to figure out exactly what the link is - I suspect most will have it worked out a little more quickly than Robinson hoped for when he wrote the book. It's a little unbelievable at times, and it is a little dated too - you wuoldn't get a B&B for £9.50 today, while Kirsten's music collection is largely on cassette and not CD (or even MP3s, for that matter). At times, I found Robinson's writing is so formal it was nearly funny : Russell, apparently, "sure knew how to choose party music" while one of Kirsten's doctors actually says "And so you jolly well should". However, it's an easy enough read overall and it's a good deal better than some others I've read recently.
Robinson stated he wanted to take a break from the DCI Banks series and write from the victim’s point of view, rather than the police procedural type. The premise of this story revolves around a young lady named Kirsten who was brutally attacked one evening as she walks home alone through a park. The wounds she suffers are horrific. She survived only because she was found by a man walking his dog, otherwise she would have bled out. Kirsten wakes up in hospital over a week later, unaware of what happened to her. She has no memory of the attack. Her parents are in the hospital room with her, concerned about the injuries and how they will affect the rest of her life. The police question her, desperate to find her attacker but no matter how hard she tries she has no recollection of that night.
More women are attacked but they do not survive. Kirsten undergoes hypnotic therapy and slowly, the nightmare of the attack and details surface. She provides the police with as much detail as she cares to share with them but decides she has her own agenda as far as her attacker goes. I can’t reveal any more without spoiling the storyline.
I am a big fan of Peter Robinson but I will say I prefer the Inspector Banks series over this story. Well written, kept me reading and the first clue confirming what I suspected didn’t appear until 30 pages before the end. So that’s good, the reader didn’t have it all figured out early on.