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Distant Echo, The Hardcover – May 2003

98 customer reviews

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Hardcover, May 2003
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--This text refers to the Paperback edition.



Product details

  • Hardcover: 322 pages
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0753168375
  • ISBN-13: 978-0753168370
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (98 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 7,007,648 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Val McDermid grew up in a Scottish mining community then read English at Oxford. She was a journalist for sixteen years, spending the last three as Northern Bureau Chief of a national Sunday tabloid. She divides her time between Northumberland and Cheshire

Product Description

Amazon Review

Val McDermid's The Distant Echo is, even more so than with her previous work, a masterpiece of trickery and misdirection. In 1978, four male students find the body of Rosie Duff half-buried in the snow and their lives are variously damaged by the suspicion that falls on them when the murder is never solved; a quarter of a century later, the case is reopened and suddenly the quartet start to be killed one after the other.

This is an effective thriller because it is so intelligent about the ways in which time changes things--secrets that seemed important become trivial and investigative techniques become ever more accurate. It is also intelligent about the ways in which things do not change--the friendships of the four men persist even when one becomes a fundamentalist preacher and another a post-modern literary theorist. Unusually for McDermid, this is a very Scots book as well--the investigating officers Maclennan and Lawson are very much men of a particular time and place. McDermid has a real sense of how to make forensic details count in a murder story--she also, more importantly, has a heart--this is a novel that makes us care passionately about victims and suspects alike. --Roz Kaveney --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

‘A classic … McDermid pulls out all the stops. Impeccable’ Guardian

‘A few more sly, old-fashioned whodunits like this and she’ll join the sturdy ranks of the queens of crime, on course to become Dame Val or Baroness McDermid’ Sunday Times

‘She has created some of the most appealing figures in current crime fiction. Val McDermid has used the crime genre to write a novel that, above everything else, celebrates life and loyalty’ TLS

‘A real page-turner and another McDermid triumph’ Observer

‘A powerful story of murder and revenge … an exciting page-turner’ Sunday Telegraph

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Untouchable on 14 Feb. 2004
Format: Hardcover
This book is very reminiscent of McDermid's most successful book to date, the multi-award winning A PLACE OF EXECUTION. The similarity lies in the way the story is presented in two parts, the first half dealing with the emotion of the crime as it happens and the second half fast forwards to the present and deals with the fallout. In this case we are taken back to 1978 before completing the story in 2003. On the surface it's a simple mystery, a girl is raped, stabbed and left for dead in the small university village of St Andrews in Scotland. But as the story unfolds, the consequences prove that the tragedy is much more insidious and far reaching.
Part 1 of the story begins with four young men walking home drunk from a party, late one night. The men met on their first day of high school and have stood by each other throughout their school life. They have now moved on to university and have remained inseparable. They each have nicknames bestowed upon them and it is by these names that we know of them throughout the book. For the record, their names and nicknames are Alex Gilbey (aka Gilly), Sigmund Malkiewicz (aka Ziggy), David Kerr (aka Mondo) and Tom Mackie (aka Weird). During their walk home they literally stumble upon the body of Rosie Duff, a barmaid from the local pub. She had been stabbed in the stomach and was barely clinging to life.
Faced with the dying girl, Alex is sent to get help and finds PC James Lawson who raises the alarm, but by the time they get back to Rosie, she had already died. The 4 friends start out as the only witnesses to the murder, but soon become the only suspects, thanks to two facts.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful By felicemorigel VINE VOICE on 5 Mar. 2004
Format: Paperback
Distinctly less gruesome than some of McDermid's novels (that's a good thing, as far as I'm concerned), "The Distant Echo" is a cleverly plotted and thoroughly believable read. The characters are engaging and convincingly drawn, and it's nice to see Val setting a novel in her native Scotland for once!
The story spans 25 years, beginning in 1978 when four students - the "laddies fi' Kirkcaldy" - at St Andrews University stumble across the body of a young woman while walking home from the pub late one snowy night. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time, coupled with the inability of the police to identify any other suspects, has catastrophic consequences for the four young men. The fallout from the unsolved murder of Rosie Duff reverberates down the years and comes back to haunt Alex, Ziggy, Davey and Tom in ways they could never have imagined.
"The Distant Echo" is a gripping read, with an excellent plot and believable characterisation, and I for one had no inkling of the eventual denouement!
Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Brett H TOP 50 REVIEWER on 16 Mar. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Val McDermid is one of my favourite crime writers, and having been through a number of her books now it is fair to say that I have yet to read one which I did not find enjoyable, well thought out and entertaining. However, this is probably not her strongest effort.

It all starts with four university students, studying at St Andrews, who stumble across a dying girl whilst on their way home from a drunken party. In the absence of any other likely suspects the police concentrate their efforts on the lads, and this changes them and has an indelible effect on each of them subsequently. It does, however, prove difficult to actually pin the crime on any of them. Fast forward twenty five years and the lads, now in their forties, have each got on with their lives in rather diverse ways. However, apparently someone out there has not forgotten or forgiven Rosie’s murder.

This is a long book, probably too long which is unusual for this author. I do feel that some objective editing could have gone a long way. For example, at one stage we have a whole two pages on someone preparing fish for his supper! When we eventually learned the answers it all seemed rather unlikely and rather contrived to my mind. Neither did I like the technique at the end when, in the midst of a fairly gripping climax, we suddenly switch to a future period. A couple of the players are looking back and discussing what happened. Not really the most effective way to tie things up. However, for all that I enjoy McDermid’s writing style and it’s an interesting tale which most of her readers will enjoy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Nicola F (Nic) TOP 500 REVIEWER on 20 Mar. 2012
Format: Hardcover
This is the third McDermid book I have read, and the second one I have actually enjoyed (I gave up on the dire `Trick or Treat!') and I am pleased to see it based in the authors native Scotland which really springs from the pages and adds a great sense of place to the story.

The novel unfolds in the late 1970's as four students at St Andrews University stumble across the body of a young woman in a churchyard after a night out. Rosie Duff is clearly in a bad way, but when she later dies, suspicion immediately alights on the four young men who found her. There's no proof that they had any involvement in what happened, but no other suspects either- and for the next couple of decades that shadow of doubt is cast over the four friends. It is on the twenty fifth anniversary of the murder however when things take another turn for the worst- two of the men die in suspicious circumstances and the remaining men realise that someone is seeking revenge and that they must be next, unless they can find Rosie Duff's real killer...

This was a very readable book that held my attention from beginning to end. I must agree with other reviewers that the characterisation is credible and the friendship between the main characters and their initial bond at the start of the novel is very well drawn. As events unfold, you can almost feel the closeness between the protagonists beginning to fray as suspicion alights on them and they almost start to turn on one another- and this was very well portrayed. I also enjoyed the different time periods depicted- Scotland in the 1970's had very different police procedures and attitudes to the 21st Century and this was interesting to read about, particularly in conjunction with Ziggy, who I think was an excellent character.
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