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"Something's happened to my Alison"
A Place of Execution - Val McDermid
Member Name: aylawarner
A Place of Execution - Val McDermid
Advantages: Brilliant plot and writing
Disadvantages: Too much set in 1963 and not enough in the present day
In the winter of 1963, 13 year old Alison Carter took her dog out for a walk and never returned home. And in a tiny village like Scardale, where the community favour privacy and family and distrust anything outside of their home, a disappearance is taken very seriously.
Newly promoted Inspector George Bennett takes on the case with much determination, not only to show his colleagues that he can do his job, but also because he has a personal interest in the case. But with no body, no clues and no one willing to help him, George's instincts are the only lead they have to go on.
Years later, after many sleepless nights dreaming about young Alison, an old and frail George finally decides to tell his story to journalist Catherine Heathcote, who remembers the story well being a young girl herself when Alison disappeared. But when a new lead emerges, George pleads with Catherine to halt the publication of the book, and the case of Alison Carter must be reinvestigated with consequences that could change everything and everyone.
~ My opinion ~
I love Val McDermid's books and I have a shelf almost full of them at home. So when I saw this one in Asda for only £1 I grabbed at it straight away.
I thought that the entire book was going to be based around Catherine Heathcote and about the new lead that emerges, but the majority of the book is set in 1963 when the disappearance first occurs, and this means that we know the story inside out when it jumps a few decades into the future later on. I would have liked to have read a bit more when it is based in the present time as the first part seemed to be very long and drawn out whereas the latter part seemed to be quite rushed and it was over very quickly.
Scardale, where Alison lives and where she disappears from, is a tiny farming village in Derbyshire and the way the people live there is very strange to the rest of the county. Everyone in the village is related some way or another and there is talk around the bigger towns that some must have married into their own family as there are only a couple of outsiders who have married into the Scardale community. One of these outsiders is Philip Hawkin, who inherited the manor house from his uncle and who ends up marrying Ruth, the mother of Alison. Everyone, whether they have lived in Scardale their entire lives or whether they have married into the village, seemed to me to be suspicious and not entirely truthful, despite it being a member of their family who had gone missing.
I felt for George Bennett, the main character in the first section of the book, as he is only a very young man, newly appointed as Inspector as he has a university degree. He has never worked on a big case like this one and so this just intensifies the pressure on him to find out what happened to Alison. A colleague of George's, Tommy Clough, becomes a good friend throughout the case and they make a good cop/bad cop duo, George being the nice and friendly cop, Clough being the big mean cop.
From the small part that you see of Catherine Heathcote, I got the feeling that she is very confident, quite pushy and out to get what she wants, as you would imagine a journalist would be. However, I didn't really like the fact that was delving into something that was, quite frankly, none of her business, and at times I wasn't sure whether she was interested in the new lead for her story or for the well-being of George and his family, and I didn't really like this trait in a main character as they're supposed to be extremely likeable.
Apart from the couple of very small negative comments I've mentioned, there really is nothing bad to say about this book. It was another brilliant read from Val McDermid and it met the expectations that I had from having read her previous books. The story was intense, suspenseful, thrilling and of course there's the much needed twist at the end to make it even more interesting and enjoyable.
Summary: Another fab read from Val McDermid