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4.5 out of 5 stars
Place of Execution,A(CD)Lib(Unabr.)
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on November 7, 2016
In 1963, thirteen-year-old Allison Carter disappears from an isolated Derbyshire village. For young George Bennett, the detective assigned to the case, this is his first major investigation. He meets up with resistance from the locals and struggles to find a murderer in the absence of a body. Many years later, as he is telling his story to a journalist, he stumbles upon the truth of what had really happened all those years ago.

This is the first Val McDermid book I have ever read, but it definitely won't be the last. A true storyteller, she has the ability to evoke time and place and knows how much to reveal, and when. I was completely drawn in throughout the entire book.

While the final revelation wasn't a shock (I had considered it a possibility from early on), it was still gripping to watch how the characters discovered the truth.

If you are a lover of police procedurals, A Place of Execution is among the best
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on April 13, 2018
Slow moving but fascinating. Novel approach to have the detective who solved the case early in his career rediscover the case through a journalist and solve it all over again.
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on September 30, 2017
Good read with a complex plot.
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on October 19, 2015
Val Mc Dermid never misses a book, can't wait for the new one.
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on August 18, 2014
Just finished reading last night. Very good .
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on November 11, 2008
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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on May 3, 2002
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. While reading the book a strange thought kept creeping into my mind, a thought that later proved accurate. Will you guess the answer to the mystery? Read the book and find out. It�s quite entertaining.
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on January 31, 2002
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.
However, "A Place of Execution" falls short in several areas. The pacing is too slow. Many pages go by when little or nothing happens, and a little judicious editing would have helped. The ending should have been exciting, but since it took so long in coming, the denouement is a bit anticlimactic. Although the book seems to have as one of its themes the exploration of guilt and moral ambiguity, when the truth is finally revealed, there is little ambiguity. "A Place of Execution" is an ambitious psychological thriller that only partially succeeds in delivering a strong emotional impact.
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on January 11, 2002
This is my first Val McDermid novel and it definitely will not be my last. When I finished reading the book I had to take a breather to take in everything that happened in this story. It is thought provoking and disturbing.
It is December 1963. George Bennett, a newly promoted inspector, is sent to Scardale, a small hamlet in England, to investigate the disappearance of 13-year-old Alison Carter. Since this is Inspector Bennett's first case, he hunts high and low trying to find the whereabouts of the missing teenager. Everybody in town is very protective and they do not make the investigation easy for the police. They do not volunteer any information and one gets the feeling that everybody in town knows something that we do not. After a week's investigation, the police find evidence that suggests that Alison was raped and murdered.
Shortly thereafter, an arrest is made. The suspect is convicted and punished even though he claims to be innocent. Alison's body was never found but they still managed to find the suspect guilty. This could easily have been the end of the book but it is only the first three-quarters of the novel.
In the last quarter of the book thirty-five years have already passed. Catherine Heathcote, a journalist, manages to get George Bennett, now retired, to participate in a true crime book about the murder of Alison Carter. He agrees and collaborates in the writing of the book. It is not until the last possible moment that Bennett asks Heathcote not to publish the book. During a recent visit to Scardale he uncovered some new evidence that brings a whole lot of questions regarding the crime. He refuses to say anything more regarding the case.
Heathcote, not easily swayed, investigates. Her discovery has serious repercussions to a lot of people involved in McDermid's work. This is what make the book great and why I put it in my highly recommended list.
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on March 3, 2002
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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