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VINE VOICEon 13 June 2017
I came to this after reading all the Tony Hill books one after the other, and probably shouldn't have. I found it hard to believe the same person had written this deeply tedious and unsatisfying tale, with it's annoying, one dimensional cardboard cut out characters and ludicrously convoluted plotlines, full of coincidences and holes which even the most ardent fan would find it hard to forgive. I ploughed through until the pitifully unbelievable 'girl's own heroine' end, although I really couldn't care less what became of the main characters. Quite frankly, if they and the police - truly 'plod' in this case - chose to steadfastly believe for three quarters of the book what is blindingly obvious to the reader, they deserved everything they were supposed to get. As usual Val Mcdermid does a very good job on the gore front - one of her trademarks - but there were points when I read something that didn't fit with what had been said earlier and I had to go back to check who had done what to whom and when. Or why, and what point did it add to the plot, if any. Usually the various strands of Val Mcdermid's books end up weaving satisfyingly into each other, so it all makes a kind of sense, but not this time. One thing still puzzles me - or would if I cared. *Spoiler alert* - during the killing of Georgia Lester, there is a graphic description of the killer committing an unspeakable act with the severed head. Yet later in the book, the investigating detective states there is no evidence of said unspeakable act. Eh what? I kept thinking this was significant (DNA, etc etc) and all would be explained, but it never was. Admittedly I was bored and losing interest in the whole thing, so may have missed something, but it seemed as though the book needed a rigorous going over by an editor who was fully awake. Unlike me.
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on 6 March 2017
Really disappointed as I have enjoyed Val Mcdermid's books in the past. I found this one really boring and skipped most of it.
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on 28 June 2005
Even for the most ardent McDermid fan, I'm sure this book came as something of a disappointment. An extremely contrived storyline, rushed and disappointing ending and an endless stream of pretentious references didn't make this a totally enjoyable read.
On paper I guess the plot idea looked quite interesting and it certainly would seem to be full of intrigue and originality. Not only have we got another serial killer on the loose, this is a serial killer who is killing the writers of novels that feature serial killers in them. And if that wasn't enough, we also have a sub-plot featuring a serial killer and another sub plot featuring another murderer. Mind you, you don't pick up a McDermid novel and not expect a great amount of blood and gore do you! Just to add another twist to the tale the main serial killer (the one that's killing the writers of serial killer novels) is killing the novelists in a fashion as described in one of their books. Confused? To be honest the novel reads quite straight forwardly so this convoluted mess does sort itself out somewhat.
But such a complex and manufactured story is going to take some sever writing skill to carry it off and I'm afraid that this time Ms McDermid just doesn't do the job. The characters are either carbon copies of previous ones or cartoon cut-outs with no real personality traits. The sub plots are at the best pointless diversion, why have the Spanish serial killer of tourists? How did this tie in with the main plot? Finally the technical accuracy of some of the tools and methods used are suspect to say the least.
The final disappointment is the rushed and almost incomplete ending, after slogging through 500+ pages of story I do expect something a little better than sneaking up behind the killer and then happy ever after. I must admit, contrary to some of the other reviews here, I didn't spot the killer, but there again I wouldn't have expected this character to have done it, in such a wild and fantastic plot development.
The book is very readable and any fan to thrillers will churn through it in a matter of days, but don't blame me if you're left with a slightly stale taste in you mouth when finished.
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on 6 August 2017
Came already signed 1st edition very pleased
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on 11 May 2017
Great read
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on 26 October 2013
This is a good book to read, with suspense and action. I bought it for my wife and she liked it
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on 10 March 2013
Another brilliant read from Ms McDermid- she never fails to impress with her stories and twists and turns in them
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on 9 August 2014
Gripping right to the end
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on 12 October 2006
I am a big fan of Val McDermid's works. No sooner have I finished one novel I find myself reaching for the next. I have read all the Tony Hill books and now all the stand-alone thrillers, the latest being Killing the Shadows. I'm sad to say it was my least favourite.

I ploughed through the first two-hundred-odd pages with growing excitement at the story's multi-layered action and the possibilities that lay ahead. Crime writers being picked off one by one, ritualistic murder in Spain, a good honest cop's efforts to put right a previously-botched murder investigation, and, playing quietly in the background, the unsolved murder of the central character's sister. Great stuff! I ploughed on.

My mistake, and the reason for my disappointment, was in thinking that all the events would remain relevant. Looking back it does seem unlikely that so much content could. How could so much believeably tie together in the end?

The second half of the story was a let down. I can see the faint relevance of the Spanish murder investigation to the story, but did it warrant so much attention early on in the book? The revealing of the crime-writer murder was surprising, but in a flat and disappointing way, and the motive for murder is far from convincing. The final confrontation scene is a little too unbelievable and the 500-page build up deserved better.

Val McDermid is a great writer - The Distant Echo in particular stands out as a truly rollercoaster of a ride right to the last page - but if you reading her for the first time I'd skip Killing the Shadows and start elsewhere to avoid disappointment. She has done much better.
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I read 'A place of Execution' last year on holiday in France and was struck by the originality of plot and good characterisation-a cracking read( 5 stars from me) which made me look forward to the new book with quite some anticipation.
Having purchased the paperback in Tesco,I was looking forward to the tedious commute to work being made more bearable for a while. But what a disappointment!!. The Plot was quite ludicrous (and predictable)whilst the motive of the killer seemed barely credible. There are far too many generalities, aside from copius ( and graphic)details of each death. It seems the author was far keener to detail gore than develop the characters who were mostly one dimensional. One wonders if McDermid has been reading Reichs and Cornwall and believes you can hook the book reading public by raising the gore count. The novel had far too many sub plots, most of which were not developed and therefore became quickly redundant. The identity of the killer was not hard to guess as everyone else in the novel could not have been the guilty party.
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