Ravelry has often been called an evil time suck (in a good way), and it is. It’s also evil in many other ways as well. The Audiobook Knitters group often comes up with new things for me to read. Recently I took a look at the Mystery thread and latched on to Val McDermid’s name. This turned out to be a good thing because now I have another whole series of books to read.
I started with A Place of Execution, the story of the missing Alison Carter who disappears one afternoon while walking her dog near her home. When blood and hairs are found in a copse near where her dog was found tied up, it seems as if they’re dealing with murder and not just a runaway or kidnapping. The young Inspector George Bennett is charged with finding Alison, dead or alive, and finding the person or persons responsible for any harm she may have come to. Unbeknownst to him at the time, this case would not only change, but it would shape the rest of his life as his drive and determination refuse to allow him to rest until the case is solved.
Although I found that the story occasionally noticeably slowed, which coincided with times when the investigation flagged as well, A Place of Execution is well written, with good characters and a brilliant sense of reality. McDermid paints a good picture with his words, especially of the inhabitants of Scardale. She does an excellent job at making them come to life both through description and actions. The reader gets a good sense of what it must be like to be miles into the back of beyond with the lonely countryside and its reticent inhabitants, also of how frustrating the whole investigation must have been for Bennett. She also leaves the mystery wide open, so although you see where it could go, you can never be quite sure.
The ending left me floored and certainly in no doubt of what my opinion was – rather ambiguous statement, but if you read the book, you’ll understand. I can recommend it to mystery lovers at any rate. A 5 out of 5 for this one. Brilliant mystery.