The Distant Echo
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The Distant Echo

3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  3,024 ratings  ·  191 reviews
Four in the morning, mid-December, and snow blankets St. Andrews School. Student Alex Gilbery and his three best friends are staggering home from a party when they stumble upon the body of a young woman. Rosie Duff has been raped, stabbed and left for dead in the ancient Pictish cemetery. The only suspects are the four young students stained with her blood.

Twenty-five yea...more
Hardcover, 404 pages
Published October 20th 2003 by Minotaur Books (first published January 1st 2003)
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Steelwhisper
4.5* rounded down.

-- mild spoilers ahead! --




Wow. I really needed reading this one.

First things first, I grade McDermid against herself and against other crime writers I like a lot. If I graded her against the average romance (m/m or else), I'd need dozens of stars to find a just balance.

There's thick plot, an era and a place portrayed so perfectly as to put you right there, and I never guessed at the murderer, even though the red herring was more than just that. But then, I rarely ever guess cor...more
aPriL meows 'n growls TLDR
As a female, what struck me most about this book was 'the lads'. I've been heterosexually married several decades but I still find 'the lads' as foreign as I would find walking about under a blue burqa in Afghanistan. So, this book ended up being kind of a National Geographic article for me on a certain level.

I tried to 'connect' with 'the lads' that the author created as the characters we were to be interested in, since they were the victims of prejudice and nefarious plots, but I found myself...more
K.A. Laity
[my review from AKnifeandAQuill.wordpress.com]

This is my first read by The Wire in the Blood author Val McDermid. Don’t look at me like that! I only got back into crime recently and I tend toward the noirish end of crime (AKA everything goes wrong, you know who did it just not what’s going to happen to them because of it, but it’s bound to be bad) rather than the puzzles-to-solve whodunit end of the spectrum. This mostly has to do with how phenomenally lazy I am. Plotting a good detective novel...more
trishtrash
I think McDermid achieves more with her one-off characters in this book than some writers of crime fiction manage over the course of a detective’s serialised career. Other than the ‘Wire in the Blood’ series, this is my first Val McDermid book; not having had any of her stand-alone novels individually recommended to me, they just never made it onto my radar (seriously, I’m having that radar decommissioned) but even the appeal of Tony Hill and Carol Jordan as crime-fighters didn’t prepare me for...more
John
My first encounter with a McDermid novel; after reading this one, I rushed out and bought three others (including A Place of Execution, the TV miniseries of which I much enjoyed a few years ago). In 1978 four male St Andrews University students, best pals, the self-styled "Laddies fi Kirkcaldy", take a short cut on their drunken way home through the snow from a Christmas party and stumble across the still just alive body of a local barmaid; despite their best efforts, by the time help arrives th...more
Stephen Clynes
This novel is an enjoyable read that draws you in and makes you wonder. This book has 561 pages and was written in 2003. It is a crime thriller described with a very extensive vocabulary, yet it is so easy to read. The Distant Echo deals with suspicion and how easily mud sticks. This book shows how easy it is to believe that someone is up to no good and to think badly of them. As the tale moves on, you become suspicious of all the students and new events appear to back this up. Your suspicion gr...more
Kirsty Darbyshire

There are definite echoes of A Place of Execution here: a two part story of the investigation into the death of Rosie Duff, a nineteen year old found stabbed to death just before Christmas 1978 in St Andrews. Four students drunk on their way home from a party find her in the snow and become the chief suspects. Nothing can ever be proved and twenty five years later, 2003, the cold case is reopened.

I like books like this a lot; seeing people in two different ages and seeing how they change in the

...more
Mary Gilligan-Nolan
I've read a lot of good Val McDermid books, but this one, it just frustrated the hell out of me. I struggled to get through it and seriously thought I'd give up on it on more than one occasion. But, as a fan of the author, I persisted. The gist of the tale is that back in 1978, four students, on their way home from a night of drinking and drugs, come across a dying girl in the snow. They recognise her as someone they know, raise the alarm, try to save her life, but she dies and they become suspe...more
Trish
This is the third novel I've read by Scottish crime writer Val McDermid, and they've all been engrossing. "Distant Echo" begins with four friend, students at St. Andrews College. As they stumble home from a party one December night, they find a young woman bleeding to death in the snow. The police and the community are suspicious of all four, but no evidence directly ties them to the crime and they are never charged. They live the next 25 years under a pall of suspicion, however. When the murder...more
Annabelle
I loved this book. It was long, but it had an excellent progression. This author reminds me a bit of Tara French, in the depth of the characters’ experience, although there is more logical plotting here. There are four senior students at St. Andrews, who have been mates since middle school. They all have names from rock songs, Weird, Mondo, and Ziggy along with Alex. They find a women’s body on a drunken walk home in a snow storm, and hell ensues, as they become suspects. It is a multilayered bo...more
Jennifer
Fantastic. One of the BEST mystery/thrillers that I've read in a very long time. Reminds me a bit of Laurie King or Dennis Lehane's stand-alone novels. A bit Scottish Donna Tartt. The characters are rich and developed, each voice individuated clearly through the dialogue. One the surface, it seems pretty simple -- the effects 25 years later when a cold case is reopened. The author brings the reader along, giving just enough hints to keep the tension very high, the outcomes very believable. The n...more
Linda
After a night of partying four drunken students take a shortcut home and accidentally stumble on a raped and stabbed girl that dies in their arms. From the beginning the police sees them as the major suspects, but as they had no involvement the policy cannot find any proof. All boys get harassed by people who think they are the culprits, each boy reacts in his own way: one becomes religious, another one tries to commit suicide and in the process the detective that is on the case is killed, a thi...more
Benjamin Thomas
Another book I found... Started it... got into it... couldn't put it down. I loved the way the story had such a large gap in between plot lines. From when the boys were young, and then skipping till they were older and everything culminating and coming together.... a perfectly laid out plan. I would never has seen it coming!
Jo
Best thriller I've read in a while, even if I did guess whodunit midway, it didn't spoil it for me. I enjoyed all the Scottish references and descriptions, and slang - you need to have lived there to get some of them, and liked the two part story. Good characters, great suspense and a satisfying ending.
Patricia Mystic
Well, I just finished reading The Distant Echo of Val Mcdermid and loved it! It was my first policial and I'm glad I chose this. Despite having parts where the story gets a bit boring, because it has a lot of straw, and some things that are not important, I really like the plot of the story. The end of the story is amazing and I don't think anyone is waiting for a final like that while you're reading. I'm talking about the real killer of young Rosie Duff. After 4 young man, at the time of the mu...more
Lobstergirl
Bad nicknames, murdered lass, working class Scottish louts, torture of homosexual youth, angry manhating lesbian, missing evidence, revenge killings, shocking twist, paint chips.
Beverley
I am a fantasy reader , but I enjoyed this book as it was different to what I read it kept moving and made me want to read more.
Ann
McDermid doesn't disappoint.

This book tells the story of four students stumbling home drunkenly in a blizzard and discovering the body of a barmaid who has been raped and stabbed. The ensuing police investigation fails to determine her murderer, but it does impact the rest of the lives of the four Laddies fi' Kirkcaldy. Their squirming under the the weight of negative publicity and public opinion is the most engrossing part of the tale.

We meet the four men again twenty-five years later, about th...more
Kaethe
I love when murder mysteries deal with crimes that happened in the past of the characters. I don't know why, I just do. This is a great one.
David
I picked this up free from a recent stay in a holiday cottage, originally only interested because of her close association with Ian Rankin and Iain Banks, two of my very favourite authors. I didn't expect much, after learning that she's at least partly responsible for a TV series involving Robson Greene, but I must admit to being pleasantly surprised.

It's very much a game of two halves, the first following four close friends in their student years as they cope with the pressure of being unjustl...more
Nigel
Enjoyable read. I found it difficult to put down..
Reinhold
Schottland 1978: Vier Studenten Ziggy, Gilley, Mondo und Weird finden eine sterbende junge Frau, können aber nichts mehr für sie tun. Sofort sind sie für die Polizei nicht nur Zeugen sondern auch Verdächtige - die einzigen um genau zu sein. McDermid zeigt auf sehr einfühlsame Weise wie die Studenten mit dieser Situation umgehen, wie ihr Leben betroffen ist und dennoch verliert der Roman über dieser psychologischen Schilderung niemals an Spannung.

25 Jahre später: Ziggy kommt bei einer Brandstiftu...more
David Peters
New author for me and I am very pleased - love the tartan noir!

Why I read It
Was watching Masterpiece Mysteries Contemporary on PBS and saw it was based on a book by Val McDernid. I did a little research and ended up selecting this standalone mystery (as she also has 3 different series as well).

The Good
Excellent analysis of how any involvement in a crime (in this case just finding the body) can wreck havoc on your life. It also shows how false accusations and beliefs can have endless repercussion...more
Katie
I really enjoyed this book. I think it was a quick read... really it was tough to put down and luckily I started it during a long weekend. I think the writing style was very interesting and really have you a sense of the time and place. I have read some complaints about the nicknames from Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars being confusing and makes the characters hard to follow; I must disagree. While I wasn't alive during the 1970's, nor have I listened to any songs by Ziggy Stardust-I fe...more
Andreea
Oct 04, 2008 Andreea rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who loves a mind-boggling mystery
Shelves: reviewed, 10th-grade
I absolutely loved this book to pieces. It's the second book I've read by Val McDermid and it most certainly won't be the last. It's a suspenseful mystery that keeps you on your toes until the very end; it's beautifully written, with sly between-the-lines humor and plenty of well learned lessons. The ending was quite a twist. The only down part? - my favorite character died...
One a cold night in a small town where nothing ever happens, four friends discover the body of a young barmaid in a ditch...more
Marie-claude Perras
Here is the synopsis: In 1978 four male students find the body of Rosie Duff half-buried in the snow and their lives are variously damaged by the suspicion that falls on them when the murder is never solved; a quarter of a century later the case is reopened and suddenly the quartet start to be killed one after the other.

The author takes the time to build an intricate tale with plot twists and turns. You never know if one of the four male students could have perpetrated the crimes and you feel fo...more
Kellie
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
MyGoodBookshelf
(This review also appears on Amazon.co.uk)

This is the third McDermid book I have read, and the second one I have actually enjoyed (I gave up on the dire `Trick or Treat!') and I am pleased to see it based in the authors native Scotland which really springs from the pages and adds a great sense of place to the story.

The novel unfolds in the late 1970's as four students at St Andrews University stumble across the body of a young woman in a churchyard after a night out. Rosie Duff is clearly in a b...more
Judith
Very different kind of mystery.

Four young men, ages about 15 or 16, are living together in Scotland while going to school. They have been friends for many years and enjoy playing pranks and indulging in minor offenses. On one particular dark winter night, they "borrow" a friend's car and drive it around, finally leaving it in an area where they can retrieve it later and return it. The friend is away on vacation.

They have a good time drinking, and are on their way home at about four in the mornin...more
Amy
The second novel I've now read by Val McDermid and she's now firmly planted herself as one of my favourite crime/mystery writers! A gripping story with the twist of a cold case being reopened and the main characters still trying to prove their innocence 25 years later. An insight into how much police and forensic work has evolved in the last century; forensics now becoming pivotal evidence in many cases. The pace was steady, not over rushed or meandering and I was pleased to have worked out the...more
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About the book 2 10 Jan 27, 2014 08:49AM  
  • Disordered Minds
  • Aftermath (Inspector Banks, #12)
  • Lazybones (Tom Thorne, #3)
  • Death Comes for the Fat Man (Dalziel & Pascoe, #22)
  • Blind Eye (Logan McRae, #5)
  • Exile (Gartnethill, #2)
5672
Val McDermid was born and schooled on the east coast of Scotland and then Oxford University after which she became a journalist.

Her first book, Report for Murder was published in 1987 and since then she has gone on to have 25 more books published.

She lives in Manchester and Northumberland with 3 cats.
More about Val McDermid...
The Mermaids Singing (Tony Hill & Carol Jordan, #1) The Wire In The Blood (Tony Hill & Carol Jordan, #2) A Place Of Execution The Torment of Others (Tony Hill & Carol Jordan, #4) Fever of the Bone (Tony Hill & Carol Jordan, #6)

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