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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superior Crime Fiction from a great writer
Readers of "The Poison Tree" will already be familiar with the heroine of the excellent "The Death Pit" , bisexual feminist Terry Williams. Bloody-minded , short- tempered and intense, it is a credit to Tony Strong's writing that she is actually likeable. The novel centres around Terry's investigation of modern day and 17th Century witchcraft in a remote part of the...
Published on 10 Oct 2003 by L. Davidson

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Could have been so much better
It's readable enough, I suppose, but I expected more. The modern-day mystery failed to keep me interested, and I solved the seventeenth-century one as soon as Terry read the letters. She's supposed to be an Oxford history grad, she really should have spotted something as obvious as that. (I should add that I'm an Oxford historian myself, come from northern Scotland and...
Published on 18 Oct 2002


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superior Crime Fiction from a great writer, 10 Oct 2003
By 
L. Davidson (Belfast, N.Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Death Pit (Paperback)
Readers of "The Poison Tree" will already be familiar with the heroine of the excellent "The Death Pit" , bisexual feminist Terry Williams. Bloody-minded , short- tempered and intense, it is a credit to Tony Strong's writing that she is actually likeable. The novel centres around Terry's investigation of modern day and 17th Century witchcraft in a remote part of the Scottish highlands and how it relates to a series of grisly murders. The characterisation in the book is quite superb , the writing intelligent and the plot unfurls majestically.There is a wealth of historical detail as well as the numerous twists and turns in the plot and sexual liaisons. We are led into a wonderful portayal of life in a Wiccan commune , discover the minutiae of pig farming and ultimately head off on a trip to Europe as the mystery unravels. This is an excellent novel , gory and disturbing at times , but well worth a read .
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Could have been so much better, 18 Oct 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: The Death Pit (Paperback)
It's readable enough, I suppose, but I expected more. The modern-day mystery failed to keep me interested, and I solved the seventeenth-century one as soon as Terry read the letters. She's supposed to be an Oxford history grad, she really should have spotted something as obvious as that. (I should add that I'm an Oxford historian myself, come from northern Scotland and have an especial interest in witchcraft, which is why I bought this book in the first place.) Furthermore, the device to tie the two stories together was just that: a device. A very contrived one.
Nor were the characters consistently presented, and I couldn't like Terry; and the Wiccans! I'm not objecting to the way Strong undermines their beliefs, as I disagree with Wicca's historical pretensions myself, but did he have to caricature them as a bunch of freaks who think with their genitals? It really wasn't fair. I don't think I'll be reading any more Strong.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A second excellent book, 29 April 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: The Death Pit (Paperback)
I wish Tony Strong had written more books!
I loved the last one, and this second is equally as good, if not better!
He has an unquestionable grasp of the english language. I found his prose style refreshing and compelling.
The characters are all well drawn and interesting.
The plot is an absolute cracker. He mixes the two strands with effortless ease, and they run on parrallel brilliantly. He juggled them excellent, and each one adds flavour to the story.
The conclusion is excellent, just as exciting as that of his previous novel.
I sped through this book in two days, and i loved every page. the visit to the orphanage is incredibly harrowing, and i felt very moved by it. I also adore the way these two books are both, essentially, classic mystery novels, but they have a brilliantly dark contemporary twist.
Excellent, yet again Tony. I cannot wait to read "The Decoy"!
(again, Mr Strong, if you're reading this, many congratulations!)
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5.0 out of 5 stars Convincing, unsettling, authoritative - great visceral read., 29 Jun 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Death Pit (Hardcover)
'The Death Pit' is an often disturbing, sometimes shocking, but consistently riveting murder mystery. In fact it's two mysteries, separated by three hundred years, which unravel in parallel as the book unfolds, only to entwine at its climax. Fans of Strong's first book, 'The Poison Tree' (I am one), already know the heroine, Terry Williams, who must feel as real as any close friend to the author, so convincing is she. Incisive, impulsive and sardonic, Terry is a first-class protagonist, drawing together the book's characters, past and present, into the continually-thickening plot. She also provides the flashes of wry humour that illuminate the writing and seduce you even further. 'The Death Pit' whisks the unsuspecting reader through a maze of plot twists, suspicion, false assumptions and blind alleys. The denouement reveals the all-too-human motives behind the various ingenious façades. This book is clearly deeply and immaculately researched, lending it an air of chilling authority throughout - never more so than when the action moves to modern-day Romania, whose victims are perhaps the most tragic of all. Read it and weep - literally. As its name suggests, parts of 'The Death Pit' are not for the squeamish or faint-hearted. Presumably forensics rarely are. If you want a generous, satisfying serving of thrillingly gutsy, brutally realistic, no-holds-barred entertainment, packaged in pacy, witty, modern writing, then buy 'The Death Pit', and enjoy.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining amateur sleuth tale, 30 July 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Death Pit (Hardcover)
Oxford Scholar Therese "Terry" Williams decides to go to Inverness to complete her research into Catherine McCullough, an alleged seventeenth century witch burned at the stake. Upon arriving in town, Terry's research efforts are sidetracked when she learns of the mutilated corpse of a local resident Donna Fairhead found in a pig burial site. Terry soon finds out that the victim belonged to a Wiccan coven.
Terry sees similarities between the death of Donna to that of Catherine, though three centuries separate the pair. She begins to make inquires to see if the link can be brought into full focus. As she digs deeper, Terry realizes that the seventeenth century Scottish destruction of witches appears on the brink of repeating itself unless she can unlock the secrets that Catherine has left behind in her letters.
THE DEATH PIT is a wonderful amateur sleuth tale with elements of a historical mystery. It stars a brave heroine not afraid to uncover the truth regardless of where it may lead. The exciting story line centers on an interesting who-done-it with much of the clues occurring in the past. As with her first novel, THE POISON TREE, this tale is clearly owned by Terry. Tony Strong makes a strong case that he is heading to the top of the sub-genre with this invigorating novel.

Harriet Klausner
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3.0 out of 5 stars A reasonable read, but over-ambitious, 24 Jan 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Death Pit (Hardcover)
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. Both stories - the first concerning a 17th century witch trial and the second a modern day murder are basically well plotted, but simply fail to convince as part of a bigger picture. This may be due in part to the main character, Therese "Terry" Williams, who provides the tenuous link between the two stories. It is not impossible for a man to write intelligently and sympathetically from a woman's perspective(David Lindsey does it superbly). Unfortunately Tony Strong doesn't understand women as well as he would like to think and subsequently Terry's character is totally unbelievable. Her personality keeps changing throughout the book to fit the situation, making it imposssible to empathise with or really care about her. The book is also vastly overpopulated by irrelevent streotyped supporting characters and random subjects as diverse as torture, Romanian politcs, lesbianism and bee keeping(!) are thrown into the mix but never satisfactorily explored. On the whole I feel that the author has simply tried to do too much with this novel, which is apity as a couple of thoughtful rewrites may have produced a best-seller.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Eerie and brilliant crime thriller jumps between centuries, 18 Jun 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Death Pit (Hardcover)
This is a really unusual and intelligent crime thriller. The heroine, a young graduate student in search of an easy thesis subject, goes to Scotland to edit the letters of a noblewoman burned as a witch in the seventeenth century. Was her real crime perhaps that she was a lesbian? But entwined with this historical detective story is another investigation: the body of a young woman has been found on a nearby farm, and a forensic archeologist has been called in to excavate the scene - the "death pit" of the title. The way the two investigations mirror each other is brilliantly done - and the way the plot ultimately joins them together is terrific. Fans of Cornwell or Reichs will love the forensic stuff, but it's a much richer and more engrossing read than most forensic crime books. I was reminded of Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow and The Secret History. The ending, in particular, is not for the squeamish - but again, it neatly parallels the 17thC torture of the witch-trials. A page-turner that makes you think as well.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well written, great pace, intriguing..., 11 May 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Death Pit (Paperback)
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 Barbara Vine. I can't believe he is a new author,as it's very polished, but I'm glad there's at least one more book to read (the poison tree)and hopefully others coming!
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1.0 out of 5 stars Poorly written thriller. A disappointing experience., 28 July 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Death Pit (Hardcover)
If there is one thing I cannot normally do, it is to read a badly written book. However, this time, although I had reached unfavourable conclusions soon after picking this up, I decided to persevere and finish it. This is the story of a Phd. student who is researching a thesis about a 17th century witch trial. After going to Scotland to gain further information for her study, the student becomes involved with a modern day witch-cult,a murder and a gang smuggling babies from Romania for adoption. The plot jumps around all over the place throughout the book. It is populated with stereotypical, badly developed characters with whom it is impossible to have any empathy. For some unknown reason, this author has chosen to make his lead character a lesbian.....bad mistake! It is patently obvious that he has not got he slightest understanding of how the gay mind works, and the central character's thoughts and actions in relation to her sexuality are utterly ludicrous....
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant - much more than just a crime book, 5 Aug 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Death Pit (Hardcover)
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. It has a double murder mystery, one of them set in the seventeenth century, but it's much more than a historical whodunnit. It's a thriller - but the development of the lead character (an academic) is ultimately as interesting as the resolution of the plot. What's more, it raises intriguing questions about whether or not it's ever possible to 'know' the past, or whether we always look at it through the lens of our own preconceptions. Brilliant - it simply defies categories.
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The Death Pit by Tony Strong (Paperback - 4 May 2000)
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