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

Val McDermid
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Product Description

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.

Review

"One of the most ingenious mystery novels ever."--Newsday

"Inventivly conceived and wonderfully written...A marvel from start to finish."--Wall Street Journal

"Val McDemid's best work to date."--Times Literary Supplement
--This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

About the Author

One of Britain's most popular authors of contemporary crime fiction, Val McDermid grew up in a Scottish mining community, read English at Oxford, then returned to Scotland to work as a journalist. She was National Bureau Chief on a national Sunday tabloid before quitting in 1991 to become a full-time novelist.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

1
Wednesday, 11th December 1963. 7.53 p.m.
'Help me. You've got to help me.' The woman's voice quavered on the edge of tears. The duty constable who had picked up the phone heard a hiccuping gulp, as if the caller was struggling to speak.
'That's what we're here for, madam,' PC Ron Swindells said stolidly. He'd worked in Buxton man and boy for the best part of fifteen years and for the last five, he'd found it hard to shake off a sense that he was reliving the first ten. There was, he reckoned, nothing new under the sun. It was a view that would be irrevocably shattered by the events that were about to unfold around him, but for the moment, he was content to trot out the formula that had served him well until now. 'What seems to be the problem?' he asked, his rich bass voice gently impersonal.
'Alison,' the woman gasped. 'My Alison's not come home.' 'Alison's your lass, is she?' PC Swindells asked, his voice deliberately calm, attempting to reassure the woman.
'She went straight out with the dog when she came in after school. And she's not come home.' The sharp edge of hysteria forced the woman's voice higher.
Swindells glanced automatically at the clock. Seven minutes before eight. The woman was right to be worried. The girl must have been out of the house near on four hours, and that was no joke at this time of year. 'Could she have gone to visit friends, on the spur of the moment, like?' he asked, knowing already that would have been her first port of call before she lifted the telephone.
'I've knocked every door in the village. She's missing, I'm telling you. Something's happened to myAlison.' Now the woman was breaking down, her words choking out in the intervals between sobs. Swindells thought he heard the rumble of another voice in the background.
Village, the woman had said. 'Where exactly are you calling from, madam?' he asked.
There was the sound of muffled conversation, then a clear masculine voice came on the line, the unmistakable southern accent brisk with authority. 'This is Philip Hawkin from the manor house in Scardale,' he said.
'I see, sir,' Swindells said cautiously. While the information didn't exactly change anything, it did make the policeman slightly wary, con­scious that Scardale was off his beat in more ways than the obvious. Scardale wasn't just a different world from the bustling market town where Swindells lived and worked; it had the reputation of being a law unto itself. For such a call to come from Scardale, something well out of the ordinary must have happened.
The caller's voice dropped in pitch, giving the impression that he was talking man to man with Swindells. 'You must excuse my wife. She's rather upset. So emotional, women, don't you find? Look, Officer, I'm sure no harm has come to Alison, but my wife insisted on giving you a call. I'm sure she'll turn up any minute now, and the last thing I want is to waste your time.'
'If you'll just give me some details, sir,' the stolid Swindells said, pulling his pad closer to him.
Detective Inspector George Bennett should have been at home long since. It was almost eight o'clock, well beyond the hour when senior detectives were expected to be at their desks. By rights, he should have been in his armchair stretching his long legs in front ofa blazing coal fire, dinner inside him and Coronation Street on the television opposite. Then, while Anne cleared away the dishes and washed up, he'd nip out for a pint and a chat in the lounge bar of the Duke of York or the Baker's Arms. There was no quicker way to get the feel ofa place than through bar-room conversation. And he needed that head start more than any of his colleagues, being an incomer ofless than six months' standing. He knew the locals didn't trust him with much of their gossip, but gradually, they were beginning to treat him like part of the furniture, forgiving and forgetting that his father and grandfather had supped in a different part of the shire.
He glanced at his watch. He'd be lucky to get to the pub tonight. Not that he counted that a great hardship. George wasn't a drinking man. Ifhe hadn't been obliged by his professional responsibilities to keep his finger firmly on the pulse of the town, he wouldn't have entered a pub from one week to the next. He'd much rather have taken Anne dancing to one of the new beat groups that regularly played at the Pavilion Gardens, or to the Opera House to see a film. Or simply stayed at home. Three months married, and George still couldn't quite believe Anne had agreed to spend the rest of her life with him. It was a miracle that sustained him through the worst times in the job. So far, those had come from tedium rather than the heinous nature of the crimes he encountered. The events of the coming seven months would put that miracle to a tougher test.
That night, however, the thought of Anne at home, knitting in front of the television while she waited for him to return, was far more of a temptation than any pint of bitter. George tore a half-sheet of paper off his scratch pad, placed it among the papers he'd been reading to mark his place, and firmly closed the file, slipping it into his desk drawer. He stubbed out his Gold Leaf cigarette then emptied his ashtray into the bin by his desk, always his last act before he reached for his trench coat and, self-consciously, the wide-brimmed trilby that always made him feel faintly silly. Anne loved it; she was always telling him it made him look like James Stewart. He couldn't see it himself. Just because he had a long face and floppy blond hair didn't make him a film star. He shrugged into the coat, noting that it fitted almost too snugly now, thanks to the quilted lining Anne had made him buy. In spite of the slight straining across his broad cricketer's shoulders, he knew he'd be glad ofit as soon as he stepped into the station yard and the teeth of the biting wind that always seemed to be whipping down from the moors through the streets of Buxton.
Taking a last look around his office to check he'd left nothing lying around that the cleaner's eyes shouldn't see, he closed the door behind him. A quick glance showed him there was nobody left in the CID room, so he turned back to indulge a moment's vanity. 'Detective Inspector G.
D. Bennett' incised in white letters on a small black plastic plaque. It was something to be proud of, he thought. Not yet thirty, and a DI already. It had been worth every tedious minute of the three years of endless cramming for the law degree that had eased him on to the fast track, one of the first ever graduates to make it to the new accelerated promotion stream in the Derbyshire force. Now, seven years from swearing his oath of allegiance, he was the youngest plain-clothes inspector the county force had ever promoted.
There was no one about to see the lapse of dignity, so he took the stairs at a run. His momentum carried him through the swing doors into the uniformed squad room. Three heads turned sharply as he entered. For a moment, George couldn't think why it was so quiet. Then he remembered. Half the town would be at the memorial service for the recently assassinated President Kennedy, a special Mass open to all denominations. The town had claimed the murdered leader as an adopted native son. After all, JFK had practically been there only months before his death, visiting his sister's grave a handful of miles away in Edensor in the grounds of Chatsworth House. The fact that one of the nurses who had helped surgeons in the fruitless fight for the president's life in a Dallas hospital was a Buxton woman had only strengthened the connection in the eyes of the locals.
'All quiet, then, Sergeant?' he asked.
Bob Lucas, the duty sergeant, frowned and raised one shoulder in a half-shrug. He glanced at the sheet of paper in his hand. 'We were until five minutes ago, sir.' He straightened up. 'It's probably summat and nowt,' he said. 'A pound to a penny it'll be sorted before I even get there.'
'Anything interesting?' George asked, keeping his voice light. The last thing he wanted was for Bob Lucas to think he was the kind of cm man who treated uniforms as if they were the monkeys and he the organ grinder.
'Missing lass,' Lucas said, proffering the sheet of paper. 'PC Swindells just took the call. They rang here direct, not through the emergency switchboard.'
George tried to picture Scardale on his mental map of the area. 'Do we have a local man there, Sergeant?' he stalled.
'No need. It's barely a hamlet. Ten houses at the most. No, Scardale's covered by Peter Grundy at Longnor. He's only two miles away. But the mother obviously thought this was too important for Peter.'
'And you think?' George was cautious.
'I think I'd better take the area car out to Scardale and have a word with Mrs Hawkin, sir. I'll pick up Peter on the way.' As he spoke, Lucas reached for his cap and straightened it on hair that was almost as black and glossy as his boots. His ruddy cheeks looked as if he had a pair of Ping-Pong balls tucked inside his mouth. Combined with glittering dark eyes and straight black eyebrows, they gave him the look of a painted ventriloquist's dummy. But George had already found out that Bob Lucas was the last person to let anyone else put words in his mouth. He knew that if he asked a question of Lucas, he'd get a straight answer.
'Would you mind if I came along?' George asked.
Peter Grundy replaced the phone softly in its cradle. He rubbed his thumb along a jaw sandpaper-rough with the day's stubble. He was thirty-two years old that night in December 1963. Photographs show a fresh-faced man with a narrow jaw and a short, sharp nose accentuated by an almost military haircut. Even smiling, as he was in holiday snaps with his children, his eyes seemed watchful.
Two calls in the space of ten minutes had broken the routine peace of an evening in front of the TV with his wife Meg, the children bathed and in bed. It wasn't that he hadn't taken the first call seriously. When old Ma Lomas, the eyes and ears of Scardale, took the trouble to subject her arthritis to the biting...
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From AudioFile

A landowner in an isolated English hamlet is hanged for the rape and murder of his 13-year-old stepdaughter. Thirty years later a journalist revisits the case with startling results. Essentially two books in one, the story has the expository nature of a police procedural and the gossipiness of a village "cozy" underlaid by sordid goings-on and the desire for revenge. Although Paddy Glynn does an old woman to a T, she doesn't give individual voice to the several well-rounded male characters. Rather, she uses her perfect diction and clear voice to carry the listener to the conclusion, where the saying "it takes a village" gets a whole new meaning. J.B.G. © AudioFile 2001, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.
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