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Place of Execution,A(CD)Lib(Unabr.) [Audiobook, CD, Unabridged] [Audio CD]

Val McDermid
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (74 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Sept. 5 2010
Winter 1963: two children have disappeared off the streets of Manchester; the murderous careers of Myra Hindley and Ian Brady have begun. On a freezing 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.

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From Publishers Weekly

This superb novel should make Gold Dagger-nominee McDermid's reputation and bring her new readers in droves. It's December 1963 and teenage girls all over Britain are swooning to the Beatles' "I Want to Hold Your Hand." In the tiny, remote village of Scardale, Derbyshire, 13-year-old Alison Carter is envied by her peers because her stepfather buys her all the latest records. When Alison goes missing one dark night, Dist. Insp. George Bennett takes control of the case, despite being new to the job and the district. Other children have gone missing recently from towns and cities in the north, but somehow Alison's case is different. Although the police feverishly track down clues and organize searches over the moors, any hope that they'll find the girl fades as the days go by. Obsessed by the case, George is tormented by his lack of success and by the suffering of Alison's mother. Little more can be said without giving away key plot points, but McDermid spins a haunting tale whose complexity never masks her adroitness at creating memorable characters and scenes. Her narrative spell is such that the reader is immersed immediately in the rural Britain of the early '60s. She clearly did extensive research on how police work was done at the time, and it has paid off beautifully. The format of the novel is unusual, with much of it purporting to be a true crime book, but McDermid keeps the suspense taut, and her pacing never flags. This is an extraordinary achievement, and it's sure to be on many lists of the best mysteries of the year. 10-city author tour. (Sept. 20)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Readers will be reminded of the real-life Moors Murders and of Stephen King's fictive eerie-village tales as they make their way through this compelling, funhouse-mirror mystery. McDermid turns the English village cozy on its head as she presents Scardale, a village whose hard-bitten inhabitants try to keep the world out and their secrets in. Part of the mystery is set in the '60s, when several children disappeared and were later found murdered in nearby Manchester. The stepdaughter of Scardale's leading citizen goes missing next. The local police investigating the disappearance are met with byzantine resistance from the villagers at every turn. The mystery deepens throughout, even extending, with a shocking ending, 30 years into the future. McDermid, who won the British Gold Dagger Award in 1995 for Mermaid Singing, brings some cunning new twists to the psychological-suspense genre. Connie Fletcher
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars For Those Who Sit In The Smoking Section May 3 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Remember when the food and drink naming trend began? The trend of reaching for increased verisimilitude in novels by describing the exact nature of the nourishment consumed by the characters? The protagonist didn´¿t just discuss something over an undefined dinner. He or she spoke while ingesting sweetbreads smothered in a delicate sauce of´¿well you get the picture. In ´¿A Place of Execution´¿ we are informed every time that a character smokes a cigarette. Not only are we enlighted about the lighting up ceremony, but we are also told the brand of the cigarette, and kept abreast of events by updates on ash flicking, inhaling and stub extinguishing. Not that this makes for an unworthy novel; its just odd that Ms McDermid has decided to spend so much time on this particular vice. My hunch is that the author had just given up smoking when writing the novel, and that she is smoking vicariously through her characters.
The novel concerns a young girl who has disappeared from her home in a tiny, secluded town in England. Police Inspector George Barnett is in charge of the case and a dedicated man he is. He devotes most of his time in trying to find young Alison, and we readers share the effort being dragged through hill and dale in the search. The townspeople, being very secluded, would be good candidates for biological research in the investigation of the genetic effects of inbreeding. They are horrified about Alison´¿s disappearance, yet are strangely uncooperative with the police. Yet the diligence of George´¿s intensive search while smoking pack after pack of cigarettes pays off. Someone is arrested for the crime, and is convicted of murder. Then we jump 30 years and find new information about the disappearance that is quite disconcerting.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Quality Mystery March 3 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Quality Mystery
Val McDermid brings us face to face with some disturbing issues in her book A Place of Execution. A child's disappearance is always unsettling and McDermid's novel about young Allison Carter vanishing from the closed community of Scardale is most disturbing. McDermid's tale is one which brings to light questions of justice and vengeance as well as providing the reader with a quality mystery story
Chief Inspector George Bennett and Detective Sergeant Tommy Clough join forces in their search for the missing 13 year-old. Both men are interesting characters who have an innate sense of justice and a strong desire for Allison to be returned to those she loves. The residents of the hamlet of Scardale, where young Allison is from seem determined to put obstacles in the way of the detectives. All residents are related to each other and seem to know each other's business, but when the need to be truthful and honest is so vital they seem to be less than forthcoming. This in itself is a mystery, because Allison is a well loved and valued member of the community. It is odd that Scardale would be so distrustful of strangers as to disrupt the investigation.
While this book is a stand alone the team of George Bennett and Tommy Clough are an intriguing pair. Bennett a young and inexperienced detective is sincere and idealistic in his goals. George has a sympathy for the victim which is appealing and honest. Tommy Clough is a seasoned veteran who seems impossible to fool and as such is a valuable asset to George in his search for the truth in Scardale.
There are sufficient clues for the experienced mystery readers to guess some of the story, but even for them, there should be some surprises in store.
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Format:Mass Market Paperback
Val McDermid sets "A Place of Execution" in Scardale, a fictional village in Derbyshire, England. The year is 1963. One day, thirteen-year-old Alison Carter comes home from school and takes her dog out for a walk. She is not seen again. Several other children have been abducted in the area of late, and Alison's disappearance soon rings alarm bells. The police are called in to investigate.
Detective Inspector George Bennett, who has never run a homicide investigation before, takes charge of the case. Bennett finds, much to his consternation, that this case will take him away for many hours from his young and lovely wife whom he adores. It will also plunge him into fits of doubt and despair that drive him to smoke endlessly and to stay up at night, worried and sleepless.
One problem is that the villagers of Scardale, who are all related to one another by blood, do not trust outsiders. They refuse to open up to Bennett and they seem to be obstructing, rather than aiding, the investigation. Another problem is that there is little physical evidence to guide the police. The investigation takes many twists and turns, some of which are quite startling.
The inside flap of this book calls "A Place of Execution" a Greek tragedy and that is an apt description. It is a story of people destroying one another with no one really winning in the end. The characters are beautifully drawn. Detective Inspector Bennett is a model of rectitude and compassion. Alison's mother, Ruth, is a grief-stricken wreck, and Alison's stepfather, Philip Hawkin, is devious and irritatingly nonchalant when his stepdaughter disappears. McDermid captures the physical and emotional ambiance of a small English village perfectly and her sense of time and place is impeccable.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good.
Just finished reading last night. Very good .
Published 1 month ago by Richard Young
5.0 out of 5 stars TRUE ENGLISH MYSTERY...
This Edgar Award finalist and New York Times Notable Book of the Year is a beautifully crafted, intriguing mystery, with well-fleshed characters and an intricate plot. Read more
Published on Nov. 11 2008 by Lawyeraau
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic
I just finished this book after being told to read it for years. I only wish I hadn't waited so long. It was a great read. It's over 500 pages but it kept my interest. Read more
Published on Feb. 7 2005
5.0 out of 5 stars What a read!
This was my first book by Ms McDermid and I hope her other books are as good. This book was fantastic. I loved the charaters, I loved the story. Read more
Published on Jan. 2 2005 by Susie Sharon
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book!
This was a wonderful book with a fictionalized tie-in with the true life English murders from the 1960's. Surprising twist at the end!
Published on June 5 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterful Mystery
Val McDermind's story, "A Place of Execution" began a bit dry but quickly that changed. Her characters are well crafted and the sequence of events are masterfully... Read more
Published on May 21 2002 by J. White
4.0 out of 5 stars Guess the ending, but still found it interesting
Usually I hate it when I solve the mystery way before the end of the book and do not waver in my opinion, but I still found this novel interesting. Read more
Published on May 17 2002 by Kay L. Robart
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply one of the best mysteries I've ever read
One reviewer said this book put him to sleep. He must have taken some serious tranquilizers when he picked up this book. Wonderfully written. Read more
Published on April 30 2002
2.0 out of 5 stars Great if you need a nap
This glum book is about 6 times as long as it needs to be, and most of the denouement is telegraphed hundreds of pages in advance. Read more
Published on April 1 2002 by Eve K. Sedgwick
4.0 out of 5 stars Gripping
This book grabs you from the very begining. You get caught up in the frenzy of a town trying to find a lost girl. Read more
Published on March 26 2002 by A. Massey
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