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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 (73 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
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars TRUE ENGLISH MYSTERY... Nov. 11 2008
By Lawyeraau TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Mass Market Paperback
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. Quintessentially English to its core, this mystery will captivate the reader, not only with its plot but with the vivid imagery that the author skillfully conjures for the reader. Filled with a myriad of twists and turns, this book will keep the reader riveted to its pages.

In the winter of 1983, a thirteen year old girl, Alison Carter, out for a walk with her dog, suddenly vanishes from her sleepy, insular English hamlet. Although there is no corpse, an unexpected discovery in a local cave brings George Bennett, the young Inspector assigned to the case, to an inevitable conclusion, leading to an arrest. Despite its resolution, this case will continue to haunt Inspector Bennett for decades to come.

When journalist Catherine Heathcote decides to write a book about the Derbyshire murder case, the now retired George Bennett fully cooperates until the eve of publication, when he suddenly requests that the book not be published for reasons that he refuses to share with Ms. Heathcote. Suddenly, the intrepid journalist senses that there is more to this story than meets the eye, and she sets out to unravel the secret of what really happened to Alison Carter in the winter of 1963. It is a journey of discovery that will fascinate the reader.

Those who enjoy beautifully written, well-plotted mysteries will simply love this highly atmospheric book. The author is clearly a superlative writer, with real talent for writing intricately plotted mysteries, while creating memorable characters. Bravo!
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5.0 out of 5 stars What a read! Jan. 2 2005
Format:Mass Market Paperback
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. The plot was solid, the twists were superb and it was a first-rate mystery. After being disapointed by the last P. Cornwell books, I was relieved to find another author that I can now look forward to reading. I will for sure pick up her other books. If they are half as good as this one, that's still ten times better then Blowfly and Trace put together!!!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Masterful Mystery May 21 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
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 designed. When I came to Part Two, the structure of her story was turned upside down. I wondered where she was going with the introduction of the character Catherine but, just as in the beginning, the story took off again. Once again she took the story and shook up the facts again to reveal another reality. So interesting to see how factual evidence can be seen in so many ways and that the truth, also can display itself in multiple ways. I look forward to her next novel.
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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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5.0 out of 5 stars Gem of a mystery not to be missed Jan. 30 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Set in England in 1963, this British thriller is anything but a "cosy". Thirteen year-old Allison disappears while walking her dog in the strange, insular and perhaps incestuous village of Scardale. Detective Inspector Bennett, assigned to the case, plunges in and gets to know the villagers, their lives and concerns. Despite his best efforts, neither Allison or her body can be found. Bennett becomes consumed with the case and cannot rest until he finds Allison for her mother. Villagers seem to be both secretive and concerned about Allison, making the job more difficult for police. Clues such as where she could have been abducted and possibly murdered do unfold and point to her stepfather as the suspect.
The novel comes in parts and Part 2 begins when a novelist documents the case 30 years later. Although the crime had been "solved" 30 years earlier, the story and nightmare begin again when Bennett collapses with a heart attack after making a horrible discovery.
A gripping, taut story with intriguing characters and a plot where things are not what they seem. This is my favorite book of 2001.
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Most recent customer reviews
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 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
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 May 1 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
5.0 out of 5 stars a place for the bedside...
or the briefbag, the car, the train or wherever you may be...pick up this well crafted novel and silently wish away any interuptions... Read more
Published on March 15 2002 by denise bashline
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books I've read in a while!
What a book! I don't usually do "english" mysteries because they are too cute and cosy, or simply move to slow for me. Read more
Published on March 5 2002 by Sue
4.0 out of 5 stars Quality Mystery
Quality Mystery
Val McDermid brings us face to face with some disturbing issues in her book A Place of Execution. Read more
Published on March 3 2002 by booknblueslady
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