The Distant Echo by Val McDermid

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The Distant Echo by Val McDermid

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Category: Crime
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: Top class crime writing that has you hooked from the first page. If you're reading because you're keen to see more of DI Karen Pirie be warned that although she does appear she only has a very small part to play. Highly recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 576/14h11m Date: March 2003
Publisher: Harper
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0007344659

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It all began a quarter of a century ago: four university students who'd been friends since their schooldays in Kirkcaldy went to a pre-Christmas party. By the time they were coming home there was a solid covering of snow and one of the lads stumbled across the body of a young woman. One of the four was a medical student and he did his best to keep the girl alive, but she'd been viciously stabbed and died before they could get help from a policeman in a patrol car nearby. They'd done their best but they were in for a shock: the police look carefully at the person or persons who discover a body and the four found that they were suspects.

Nothing could be proved against them, but there were too many suspicious facts for their guilt to be readily dismissed: they did have the use of a vehicle in which they could have transported the body albeit one which they'd 'borrowed' without the owner's knowledge. Their alibis for the evening didn't quite stand up, although they couldn't be dismissed completely. To the family of the murdered girl they were murderers and rapists who'd got away with it and her brothers weren't too fussy about staying on the right side of the law when they felt that justice hadn't been served.

Twenty-five years on, the case comes up as a cold case which it might be possible to clear up with advances made in forensic science in the intervening years and DI Karen Pirie is one of the officers involved. It's quite a close-knit community in the police - the officer in the patrol car a quarter of a century before is now the Assistant Chief Constable, but there's trouble locating all the evidence and it looks as though progress is going to be slow. Then two of the erstwhile students are murdered.

There was a point when I thought that I was going to be disappointed by The Distant Echo. I recently read book four of the DI Karen Pirie series and enjoyed it immensely and when the opportunity came up to start from the beginning of the series it seemed like too good an opportunity to miss. I acquired an audio download (which I bought myself) narrated by Tom Cotcher. Cotcher has an excellent range of voices and was good to listen to but I worried that most of the story seemed to take place at a time when Karen Pirie was probably still a schoolgirl. But, I really needn't have worried: I was completely hooked by the story and frankly soon wasn't in the least worried about who was taking the lead in the investigation.

I had just about everybody bar the dead girl chalked in as the murderer, but completely missed the real killer. All the clues were there, but I didn't pick them up and there were even more twists in the final pages which I simply didn't see coming. It was a superb read and my only disappointment was when it ended.

Val McDermid's DCI Karen Pirie Novels in Chronological Order

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Buy The Distant Echo by Val McDermid at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Distant Echo by Val McDermid at

Buy The Distant Echo by Val McDermid at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Distant Echo by Val McDermid at


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