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As he did so well in his first thriller, The Poison Tree, Tony Strong again takes us into a closed-off world and exposes its most private secrets in his second novel, The Death Pit. Even though the Scottish town of Inverness seems a long way from the rarefied literary circles of Oxford (where the first story took place), both are small town environments that engender gossip and illicit goings-on.
A flourishing modern coven of witches seems a natural part of the Scottish landscape--especially since nearby Babcock Castle was the scene of a notorious 17th-century trial and the burning of Catherine McCulloch, a woman accused of witchcraft. But when the body of one of the women in the coven is found dismembered in a foul pit where diseased pigs are discarded, some of the residents blame the witches and take violent action against them.
Terry Williams, a PhD candidate, has come to Babcock Castle to study McCullogh's papers, and finds herself caught up in the mystery when she discovers a link between the past and the present. Strong is a sly writer who knows how to create sympathetic, believable characters and place them in a tightly controlled atmosphere where sex and danger charge the air. --Dick Adler --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
When young academic Terry Williams goes to a remote corner of the Scottish Highlands, she's simply intending to edit the letters of Catherine McCulloch, tortured and burnt as a witch in the seventeenth century. But then the body of a young woman is found on a local farm, dumped in the death pit amidst a pile of rotting pigs. She is Donna Fairhead, one of a nearby community of Wiccans - modern-day witches.
As the forensic excavation of the death pit throws up yet more horrors, Terry's work on the letters reveals that there may have been more to Catherine's death than anyone had ever imagined. And as the present-day death toll mounts, Terry realizes that the identity of the killer may also be part of a three-centuries-old mystery, a mystery whose next victim might well be herself...
This is a good mystery story but be aware, this is an ADULT book with adult themes in it, such as rape, child murder, torture etc. Read morePublished on 22 Dec. 2007 by Kali
This book might not stand out from others in the same genre just by looking at it, but it's definitly worth picking up. Read morePublished on 30 Aug. 2001
Definitely not for those who think that "crime fiction" should adhere to a formula. This is more like a historical-epic-cum-campus-novel than a conventional murder... Read morePublished on 2 Aug. 2000
I bought this book because I was intrigued by the mix of 17th century and modern day witchcraft combined with a murder mystery. Read morePublished on 7 July 2000
This is first and foremost a real page-turner of a story about an academic who goes to Scotland to edit some papers written in the seventeenth century by a woman who was burnt as a... Read morePublished on 11 May 2000
It was a lovely surprise to find this book and a new author to look out for - his writing reminds me of Minette Walters, Patricia Cornwell (but much better in my opinion) and... Read morePublished on 11 May 2000
The Death Pit consists of two entirely different stories set 300 years apart, which have been combined somewhat unsucessfully into one novel. This is a great shame. Read morePublished on 24 Jan. 2000
I really liked two things about this book. First, although it involves an academic who investigates a witches coven, the writer has resisted the temptation to stereotype or... Read morePublished on 6 Aug. 1999
One of the best, and certainly the most interesting, of all the books I've read this year. It uses forensics - but it's much more than a forensic cut-'em-up. Read morePublished on 5 Aug. 1999