Saturday, January 21, 2023

The Distant Echo, by Val McDermid

A young woman attacked and left for dead is found by four young students on their way home from a party. When she dies, suspicion falls on these four lads, and haunts them for the next 25 years...

For a long time I couldn't really stomach murder mysteries, real life too choker with its own mundane horror to take on any more. But my mum recommended this, the first to feature Karen Pirie who now has her own TV show, so I gave it a go. It's compulsive reading, full of real life and human frailty, and though I'd solved the case long before the end that only added to the mounting tension. 

In fact, lots of it is very tense. For several nights I dreamt of the simple, awful horror of a man being dropped down a well. There's lots of pain, physical and mental, that really hurts.

It's odd, given the TV series, that Karen Pirie has so little to do, even when present with evidence. She's a minor character here, not in the first half at all. I'm curious to see what happens next to make her the lead.

That one character's odd, even criminal behaviour is apparently down to him having been adopted is... well, I've read other stuff from the same period that takes a similar line. It's a bit crass. And the book concludes with a chapter in which two characters talk through all the outstanding plot threads, which isn't the most elegant way to finish what's otherwise been done so deftly.

No comments: