Overcooked and overlong,
This review is from: The Distant Echo (Paperback)
I had wanted to try Val McDermid for a while and picked this up in a charity shop intrigued not least by the Fife setting. It reasonably well written but very much a book of 2 halves - separated by a gap of 25 years and for me an element of credibility. It's cleverly (perhaps too cleverly ) plotted but goes on too long and at the end ties itself in knots trying to make sense of a convoluted plot.
SLIGHT SPOILERS AHEAD
I thought the first half was good, while the dialogue is a bit wooden and the characters lacking in depth the basic premise - drunken students who discover a murdered young woman and become prime suspects in the case, was I thought told with sufficient pace and verve too make for quite a gripping read. This section takes up under half of the 561 pages and leaves you hanging as the case is not solved.
Appetites suitably whetted we then jump forward 25 years when the case is subject to a cold case review. This could have been equally gripping, but failed for me partly due to the introduction of a new `character' who was too much a collection of clichés (loner computer programmer ) who had no existence outside his plot function. To be honest, based on this book, character isn't McDermids strong point, we also get butch angry lesbian, while others have little depth. The other problem is that the second half drags on way too long. The whodunit reveal when it finally arrives was I thought ludicrous and requires a chapter of exposition at the end to try and make sense of it all. By which time I was ready to through the book out the window.
Very disappointing after a good start, some strong elements - I'd give it 2 ½ stars of I could but so much more could have been made of such a promising idea.