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The Distant Echo Paperback – 6 Feb 2006

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Product details

  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins (6 Feb 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007217161
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007217168
  • Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 3.5 x 17.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (94 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 551,821 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.


‘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

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

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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8 of 9 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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Stephanie De Pue TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 24 Oct 2009
Format: Paperback
"The Distant Echo," (2002) is a stand alone British mystery/thriller by increasingly well-known Scottish-born author Val McDermid, now considered a leading practitioner, in company with Ian Rankin and Denise Mina, of the Scottish crime writing school that has come to be known as "tartan noir," for its high level of violence, sheer bloody-mindedness, and grisly, witty humor. McDermid grew up in a Scottish mining community - Kirkcaldy, as it happens, in the heart of the Fife coalfields. (Ian Rankin, currently the dean of Scottish mystery authors, is also from Fife.) McDermid read English at Oxford, on a rare scholarship. She worked as a journalist for 16 years, largely in Manchester, where she now lives. In 1995 she won the Gold Dagger Award for Best Crime Novel of the Year. Her novel A Place of Execution won a "Los Angeles Times" Book Prize, was named a " New York Times" Notable Book of the Year, won the Anthony, Macavity, and Dilys awards for best novel, and was a finalist for the Edgar Award. A television series,Wire in the Blood: Series 1 and 2 (5 Disc Box Set) [DVD] [2002], based upon what has come to be known as her "Wire in the Blood" series, has been available in the United Kingdom and the United States for some time.

The book at hand tells the tale of four young men from the working class town of Kirkcaldy, once chiefly notable for a big linoleum factory, and, as the home of famed economist Adam Smith, who was largely responsible for getting economics called the "dreary" science.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By D. Norman on 18 Mar 2004
Format: Paperback
Four Universtity students, Ziggie, Mondo, Alex and Weird are returning home from a party. It is 2.00am and a bitterly cold morning in Fife, Scotland. They stumble across Rosie Duff, lying badly wounded in the snow. Rosie dies from her wound, the victim of murder. The four friends are prime suspects. From here on their lives will never be the same. The strength of their friendship put to the severest test.
From this beginning, Val Mc Dermid weaves a plot of interest and suspense. Inspector Mc Clellan, handling the murder investigation suspects that one or more, possibly, of the four friends could be concealing evidence. It is against this backdrop, plus the attention of the media, that Ziggie, Mondo, Alex and Weird struggle, not just to keep to the routine of their lives but to maintain the bond of their friendship.
It is through the development of these characters and the way in which they cope (and perhaps more to the point, often don't) with these traumatic circumstances that adds momentum to the story. Especially so as, after twenty five years, the case of Rosie Duff is again re-opened and `accidental` deaths begin to occur. It is here, that we can establish how each of the four friends has continued their lives, as well as assessing how the intervening years have affected each of them.
I enjoyed this story. The characterisation is excellent. By the end of the book, I felt as if I had known each of the four friends personally. My only murmer of unease, is in the length of the book, which at 560 pages could, I thought could have been condensed just slightly.
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