Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Distant Echo (Inspector Karen Pirie, #1)” as Want to Read:
The Distant Echo (Inspector Karen Pirie, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Distant Echo (Inspector Karen Pirie #1)

3.92  ·  Rating Details ·  5,037 Ratings  ·  318 Reviews
Bestselling, award-winning author Val McDermid delivers her most stunning story yet in The Distant Echo---an intricate, thought-provoking tale of murder and revenge

It was a winter morning in 1978, that the body of a young barmaid was discovered in the snow banks of a Scottish cemetery. The only suspects in her brutal murder were the four young men who found her: Alex Gilbe
Paperback, 496 pages
Published October 17th 2004 by St. Martin's Paperbacks (first published January 1st 2003)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg LarssonThe Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz ZafónThe Name of the Rose by Umberto EcoAnd Then There Were None by Agatha ChristieThe Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson
Best Literary Mysteries
1,038 books — 2,404 voters
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles DickensA Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff1984 by George OrwellBridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding
London Calling
933 books — 517 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Sep 27, 2016 Matt rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook
As she begins the Karen Pirie series, McDermid offers readers a wonderful introduction to another fast-paced novel and lays the groundwork for what could be an exciting few stories. Scotland, 1978: After a night of drinking, drugging, and partying, Alex Gilbey and his three closest mates stumble upon Rosie Duff, who's been raped and stabbed, bleeding out in the middle of a blizzard. By the time the authorities are alerted and brought to the scene, Duff has died and there is little doubt that the ...more
Sep 09, 2016 BrokenTune rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
"He always liked the cemetery at dawn. Not because daybreak offered any promise of a fresh beginning, but because it was too early for there to be anyone else around. Even in the dead of winter, when the pale light was so late in coming, he could guarantee solitude. No prying eyes to wonder who he was and why he was there, head bowed before that one particular grave. No nosy parkers to question his right to be there."

The Distant Echo is the first in the Karen Pirie series. The later books in th
Tom Mathews
This is the book that first got me interested in Val McDermid. It's still one of my favorite of hers.
May 05, 2014 Steelwhisper rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Everyone who loves thrillers and Scotland
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
aPriL does feral sometimes
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
K.A. Laity
May 25, 2012 K.A. Laity rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
[my review from]

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
Apr 24, 2011 John rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 04, 2017 Catherine rated it liked it
Shelves: mysterious, 2017
I think this was a GR recommendation based on my love for Tana French -- a murder mystery based in Scotland (instead of Ireland). Karen Pirie (who is introduced as a minor character in this first book, but apparently becomes the star of the series) is a cold case detective, which appealed to me, too.

From the book jacket, you know that the story starts on a cold December night in 1978, when four college friends stumble upon the body of a dying 19-year-old bar maid named Rosie. She's been raped, s
Stephen Clynes
Jul 10, 2011 Stephen Clynes rated it it was amazing
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
Bad nicknames, murdered lass, working class Scottish louts, torture of homosexual youth, angry manhating lesbian, missing evidence, revenge killings, shocking twist, paint chips.
João Carlos

St. Andrews, Fife, Escócia

”Um Eco Distante” (2003) é mais um excelente livro da escritora escocesa Val McDermid (n. 1955).
Em 1978, numa madrugada fria de Dezembro a neve cobre a lindíssima cidade universitária de St. Andrews (também conhecida pela “Casa do Golfe”), na área de Fife, na zona Este da Escócia, onde quatro amigos, estudantes – Alex Gilbey (Gilly), David Kerr (Mondo), Tom Mackie (Weird) e Sigmund Malkiewicz (Ziggy) – regressam a casa depois de uma noite de festa e muito álcool e se de
Nov 06, 2016 Sharon rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2016
Set in St Andrews, Scotland in 1978, four university students, drunk and on their way home from a party, stumble onto, literally, the body of a woman, Rosy from the local bar. She’s lying in an ancient Pictish cemetery. It was Alex who stumbled and to his horror, when he landed, was face to face with a dead woman that he not only knew, in fact he’d invited her to the party. Horrified, Alex took off in the blizzard and was lucky enough to find Corporal James Lawson to report the murder. So it is ...more
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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Veselina Bakalova-Mihaylovska
Историята и стилът на авторката много ми харесаха. Успя да задържи интереса и вниманието ми до самия край, а мистерията около убиеца за мен беше разгадана съвсем в края на книгата, едва при отиването на Алекс към езерото. Нито за минута преди това не се бях замисляла върху този сценарий, а като фен на жанра оценявам умението за задържиш читателя на нокти.
Jan 27, 2017 Mark rated it really liked it
This was the first time I've read a Val McDermid novel, and it certainly won't be the last. The plot - which unfolds immediately after the initial crime in 1978 and then deals with its aftermath in 2003 - is perfectly constructed and the characters are vivid. This is great entertainment that also captures what it might be like to carry the burden of living for 25 years as the only suspects in an unsolved crime.
Glen Stott
Dec 11, 2016 Glen Stott rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
This is a complicated examination of the emotions of love, hate, grief, and revenge. It covers over 25 years in the lives of four very dissimilar boys, Alex (Gilly), Sigmund (Ziggy), Tom (Weird), and David (Mondo) drawn into a friendship during their high school years. When they are in college they discover a dying girl whom they knew from their favorite pub. Alex, the protagonist, runs for help, but unfortunately, help arrives after she has died. Rosie was raped and then stabbed in the stomach ...more
Susan Oleksiw
Aug 18, 2014 Susan Oleksiw rated it really liked it
Shelves: mysteries
In 1978, four college students stagger home from a party still drunk during a bitterly cold night. The boys take a short cut back to their house and stumble over a young barmaid near death. Before they can bring help, she bleeds to death, on the edge of an old cemetery. The boys are interrogated, their house searched, and their lives upended. The suspicion of murder clings to them when the police can find no evidence to charge anyone, and nearly destroys the deep friendship that has held them to ...more
Anne Wright
Sep 21, 2014 Anne Wright rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: crime lovers
The Distant Echo by Val McDermid

A really good story, I was hooked from the first pages as always with Val McDermid's books. But I do not think I will read again although it will stay on my book shelves so you never know.

A murder/rape is committed and the body dropped in a pictish grave yard. The dead girl is the bar maid from one of the local pubs. Then 4 students were wending their way home after a long night drinking and in some cases taking any of the drugs on offer, fall on top of her as the
Mary Gilligan-Nolan
May 24, 2011 Mary Gilligan-Nolan rated it liked it
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
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

Mar 22, 2014 Annabelle rated it really liked it
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
Feb 06, 2015 Cyn rated it it was amazing
This was my first Val McDermid novel and I was so impressed. Her writing reminds me a little of Tana French, the way she creates believable characters and interactions. Maybe not with the same emotional depth of French, but still very good nonetheless. I listened to the audiobook of this and the narrator was very good - although I had several moments of confusion when I didn't understand why certain things were happening, but that was only because I completely misunderstood one crucial sentence ...more
Dec 09, 2007 Trish rated it liked it
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
Mar 26, 2008 Jennifer rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 29, 2015 Monica rated it really liked it
This is the first book I have read from McDermid -- it started off a little bit slowly but then I got sucked in and couldn't put it down. She gives the reader small bits of information so it truly was a mystery until the very end (although I'm sure more observant readers would be able to solve it).

Some of the terminology is a little bit confusing since the book takes place in Scotland but it was an enjoyable read.
May 05, 2012 Sheila rated it really liked it
4 friends are stumbling home after a night of drinking and literally stumble upon the body of a woman who has been brutally raped and murdered. They report the murder and immediately become the prime suspects. Fast forward 25 years and someone is taking revenge one the 4 friends. I didn't see the end coming on this one.
Apr 17, 2014 booknerd_dork rated it it was amazing
This is the first book I read in mystery/thriller genre. I loved it. I've to thank my friend for lending me the book. The story just swallowed me in the plot. The suspense keeps you on the edge. I read this two years ago but now also I remember what was I feeling: the anticipation and thrill.
It's a must read book.
Benjamin Thomas
Sep 17, 2007 Benjamin Thomas rated it really liked it
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!
The Cats Mother
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.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
About the book 3 19 Jan 18, 2017 02:21PM  
  • Disordered Minds
  • Exile (Garnethill, #2)
  • Cold is the Grave (Inspector Banks, #11)
  • Lazybones (Tom Thorne, #3)
  • Death Comes for the Fat Man (Dalziel & Pascoe, #22)
  • Above Suspicion (Anna Travis #1)
  • Cold Granite (Logan McRae, #1)
  • Blood on the Tongue (Ben Cooper & Diane Fry, #3)
Val McDermid is a No. 1 bestseller whose novels have been translated into more than thirty languages, and have sold over eleven million copies.

She has won many awards internationally, including the CWA Gold Dagger for best crime novel of the year and the LA Times Book of the Year Award. She was inducted into the ITV3 Crime Thriller Awards Hall of Fame in 2009 and was the recipient of the CWA Cart
More about Val McDermid...

Other Books in the Series

Inspector Karen Pirie (4 books)
  • A Darker Domain (Inspector Karen Pirie, #2)
  • The Skeleton Road (Inspector Karen Pirie, #3)
  • Out of Bounds (Inspector Karen Pirie, #4)

Share This Book