The Distant Echo by Val McDermid
From Publishers Weekly
This absorbing psychological novel of revenge shows British author McDermid (A Place of Execution) at the top of her form. In part one, set in 1978 in St. Andrews, Scotland, four drunken male students, friends since childhood, stumble over the raped and stabbed body of a dying woman, Rosie Duff, while staggering home through a snow storm. Though her violent brothers are convinced of their guilt, no one is charged with Rosie's murder. In part two, 25 years later, the police hope new forensic technologies will solve the crime, and suddenly someone is stalking the four men, whose lives have been haunted and their relationships changed by the murder. Two die, supposedly by accident, and the remaining pair, Alex Gilbey and Tom Mackie, must find out what happened before they're killed, too. James Lawson, an assistant chief constable who was a junior cop in 1978, wants to close the case and avenge the death of his admired superior, DI Barney Maclennan, who fell from a cliff during the initial inquiry. When Graham Macfadyen, who claims he's Rosie's illegitimate son and also seeking revenge, contacts Lawson, the investigation takes a startling turn. Only the careful reader will anticipate the stunning conclusion, which makes perfect sense. Outstanding pacing, character and plot development, plus evocative place descriptions, make this another winner.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Simply superb, October 1, 2003
from Morrow, Ga. United States
In 1978 St. Andrews, Scotland, four intoxicated students stumble home at four in the morning while snow heavily falls. However, they sober up rather quickly when they stumble over the raped and murdered body of Rosie Duff. Though everyone especially the victim's siblings believe that the drunken male quartet killed her, no proof exists and thus no one is charged with the homicide. Twenty-five years later, forensic science has advanced to the point that the Scottish police reconsider this cold case. Instead of rejoicing that perhaps Rosie's killer is identified, the reopening of the investigation sets off someone seeking revenge against the four former students, who remain haunted by that deadly discovery. Two of them, Sigmund Malkewicz and Davy Kerr, suddenly die in what look like accidents, but their deaths sends a shiver up the spines of the surviving pair. Alex Gilbey and Tom Mackie become determined to learn the truth about the murder a quarter of a century ago and the two killings of their friends because they fear they are next. On the other hand, Assistant Chief Constable James Lawson wants them to stay out while he tries to solve the murder as homage to his former superior, Detective Investigator Barney Maclennan, who died during the 1978 investigation. Part one takes place in 1978 is brilliantly designed so that the audience wonders who killed Rosie. Part Two occurs in 2003 is well written with an intriguing and plausible ending. The contrasting police procedural story lines enable the audience to see how far forensics has come in a relative short period while entertaining the audience with a strong two in one novel that ties nicely together. Harriet Klausner