A Place Of Execution
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A Place Of Execution

4.1 of 5 stars 4.10  ·  rating details  ·  4,151 ratings  ·  366 reviews
Winter 1963: two children have disappeared off the streets of Manchester; the murderous careers of Myra Hindley and Ian Brady have begun. On a freezlng day in December, another child goes missing: thirteen-year-old Alison Carter vanishes from her town, an insular community that distrusts the outside world. For the young George Bennett, a newly promoted inspector, it is the...more
Paperback, 480 pages
Published September 17th 2001 by St. Martin's Paperbacks (first published June 7th 1999)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jon
This book got rave reviews (judging from the newspaper blurbs on the cover), was given five stars by a lot of goodreads readers, and was highly recommended by a friend of mine. I found it mostly irritating on almost every level. It was very long (in the neighborhood of Moby Dick). It was written with no particular style, with characters who all sounded alike. It was repetitive. The author had an uncanny ability to describe non-dramatic scenes at length while skipping the ones that would have had...more
Hannah
Dec 12, 2011 Hannah rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Hannah by: Kim
Shelves: 2011-reads, mysteries
Rating Clarification: 4.5 Stars

A truely outstanding murder mystery, and one I would recommend to any fan of the genre. More then just a straightforward whodunnit, McDermid intricately explored the bonds that held an insular agricultural community together in early 1960's northern England. She fully captured the sense of time (almost too much so with her never-ending references to tea and cigarette usage), and the sense of desperation, anguish and helplessness that would come to any parent of a m...more
Jody
Sep 04, 2008 Jody rated it 5 of 5 stars Recommends it for: Crime fiction lovers
Shelves: crimefiction
An incredible stand-alone volume from Val McDermid. I found this novel almost impossible to put down (but one has to make tea and sleep, you know). A very cleverly-framed text, you don't quite know where you're at with this murder mystery. What at first looks like a rather neat and tidy investigation with no (or minimal) loose ends, turns out to be something else entirely.

Murder in a small, traditional English country town set in both the 1960s and modern day. And there's always a cup of tea to...more
Kim
My re-read of this novel confirmed that it deserves the four stars I originally gave it. I first read A Place of Execution when it was initially published in 1999. As I don't generally re-read crime fiction novels (I make an exception for the novels of Dorothy L Sayers!), I haven't re-visited it since. The advantage in re-reading the novel after such a long break is that I had forgotten a lot of details of the plot, so it almost felt like a first time read.

There is no doubt that this is one of...more
Anna
I wanted to like this more than I did.

A girl goes missing in a small, close-knit, inter-related village in 1960s England. The police are hindered by the villager’s wariness of outsiders, but when the breakthrough comes, the case reaches an incomplete conclusion. Three decades later, a journalist is writing a book about the disappearance and the policeman in charge. New evidence is stumbled across, and the story is finally told in its entirety. The initial twist is expected, although the full twi...more
Kelly
I read a lot of mystery series, and I had forgotten how refreshing it can be to read a stand-alone crime novel --especially a well-crafted one.

When an author doesn't have to worry about introducing a main character as someone the readers will want to love and follow, she's free to do some extraordinary things with the plot.

As a result, we also see Detective Inspector George Bennett in a different light than series detectives.

We may not know what he buys when he goes shopping or what record he pl...more
Bookguide
Generally speaking, I’m not a fan of crime fiction, and prefer to get an occasional crime fix on the television. Although my enjoyment is somewhat tempered by the fact that my husband tends to work out “who dunnit” before the end, keeps threatening to tell me, and gives me extraneous misleading clues throughout. One of the things which I often find off-putting about crime novels, especially in the wake of shows such as CSI and Silent Witness, is the gruesome detail with which the unfortunate vic...more
Michael
In England in 1963, the Beatles just released their first album. The Great Train Robbery takes place and in the area of Deryshire, known for the Peak District National Park, a police constable gets a call. A frantic mother announces that her fifteen-year-old daughter is missing and the mother asks for help.

A search is conducted but without results.

Alison Carter lived with her mother and step-father in a small hamlet of Scardale where the population is made up of only about three families who wer...more
Rick Soper
I came to Val McDermid through the back door of the BBC. You see I was flipping through channels one night and came upon the BBC series Wire In The Blood with Robson Green and I was just fascinated. I became a huge fan of that show because the BBC just knows how to do crime dramas a whole lot better than their American counterparts, Robson Green is a great actor, and at the heart of the show there were great stories being told. Little did I know at the time, that was because the entire series wa...more
Sarah
Review: Val McDermid – A Place of Execution
December 22, 2011 by Sarah | Edit

When I gave Val McDermid’s The Retribution a somewhat lukewarm review recently, two fellow reviewers urged me to try instead A Place of Execution a standalone novel set in Derbyshire. I think two recommendations from people whose opinions I trust is enough to convince me, so I bought the book on Amazon and started reading it as soon as it arrived. What appealed to me was the background to the book. I grew up in south Ma...more
Nicole Marble
There are writers and the best of them are 'authors'. Val McDermid is an author - an exceptional author. This is a two part story - first a crime and trial in Derby in 1963, then the examination of that crime 35 years later. Supurb!
Sharon Jacobsen
I'm 52, a fan of crime fiction and have never before read a Val McDermid. What on earth have I been thinking of? It's not that I haven't wanted to, I just haven't gotten around to her before now. My loss.

A Place of Execution absolutely blew me away. I was riveted from the very first page until the last word.

McDermid has captured the atmosphere of 1960s Scardale to such perfection that I feel as if I've visited the village and actually walked the hills surrounding it. And the characters... well,...more
Jay
A Place Of Execution
by Val McDermid

My dad (who reads two, maybe three books a week) told me that this was the best mystery he’d read in a long time. With an endorsement like that, who was I to argue? He tossed the book my way and in no time, I was hooked.

The time is 1963 and the setting is one of the many things about this long, tangled thriller that enthralled me. Welcome to the fictitious English village of Scardale; a remote farming community with families so inter-related that by the time...more
Lisa Lilly
This book made me late to my office almost every day of the 3 days it took to read it. Newly-promoted investigator George Bennett is the lead on the case of a girl missing (perhaps dead) from her isolated and insular small town in England where nearly everyone is related to one another. The townspeople want justice, but they harbor a deep mistrust of outsiders, especially the police. The story is told through several viewpoints, each one fascinating. I found the characters intriguing and enjoyed...more
Agnesxnitt
This is a re-read of one of my favourite Val McDermid novels. I do really like her Tony Hill/Carol Jordon 'Wire in the Blood' series (I am eagerly awaiting the latest novel to arrive at our excellent local library ) but her stand alones are no less high in the quality of writing and plot - these are no one time throw away stories.
The book is in three parts, the initial disappearance of a 13 year old girl from an inclusive, closed off Moor village called Scardale, and the investigation into this...more
_inbetween_
Because the (currently) last of my her Tony Hill novels still hasn't been delivered to me, I (re?)read this stand-alone. I hope many readers enjoy it, but I found that here, once you figure out what's really going on (which even with this good mystery author I tend to do) there is nothing else to keep you interested (while usually there is). There is no perpetrator or victim angle (uhoh, we're getting close to Cornwell here) and while Bennett and his sidekick are the usual good men, the whole st...more
Mrsgaskell
This was chosen as a selection for one of my book clubs. I enjoyed it, very good summer reading, but was doubtful whether a mystery of this type would generate much discussion for a book club. But the conclusion certainly removed any doubts about that, and we had a very good discussion about justice - with an interesting variety of opinions! The book also raised the topic of capital punishment. Val McDermid is an excellent writer of intelligent mysteries. Thirteen-year-old Alison Carter disappea...more
Craig
Feb 05, 2008 Craig rated it 5 of 5 stars Recommends it for: Mystery Lovers, Mystery Newbies, Angliophiles
Recommended to Craig by: http://www.crimepays.com/

I can sum up my review of this book in three words:
OH MY GOD!!!
I loved this book! I thought "The Year of Mystery" was off to a great start with The Poet, but A Place Of Execution really blew the doors off - one of the best books I have read in the past ten years. Incredible atmostphere, engaging characters, gripping story, and a central mystery on par with "who killed Laura Palmer". The last 50 pages had me yelling "NO WAY!!" outloud over and over as each new unexpected twist was revealed. I bou...more
Bibliophile
I had never read anything by Val McDermid before I happened to pick up a copy of A Place of Execution, and now, on the strength of this one book, she's one of my favorite mystery/suspense novelists. The plot twist in A Place of Execution was beautifully executed, and I loved the characters in the small English village who have to cope with the disappearance and presumed murder of one of the village's teenaged children. I kept thinking about this novel long after I'd finished it and about the que...more
Ameerah
I have now read quite a few of Val McDermid's books and this is hands down my favorite. An incredibly gripping story with and ending that is both shocking and satisfying. Will not say much more since I don't want to ruin it. I will say that if you like smart mystery/thrillers this book is well worth your time and money.
Debby
I enjoy British police procedurals in general, but this one was truly exceptional. Tightly plotted, exceedingly well written, and with enough surprises to satisfy the most skeptical reader, I would recommend it without reservation to any crime fiction lover.
Chris
I saw the beginning of the movie and was intrigued-had to find out who did it. Book was quite a page turner and after awhile you begin to figure it out (but you're stil not sure) but I was still shocked at the twist at the end.
Kaitlin
3.5 stars

Finally I've come across a crime mystery book that is laid out the way I always imagined. I'm taking a crime/detective fiction English class in university and I had this preconceived notion of how "murder mysteries" were supposed to be written. A thrilling account of a determined detective and includes devices like false hopes, red herrings, grisly accounts, AND OF COURSE THE TWIST ENDING!

Granted, just reading the summary of the book on the back cover really alludes to a twist ending, b...more
Elizabeth
Re read this book. Love Val Mc Dermid's mysteries.
Darby
This was a really enjoyable book in the best sense- it kept me coming back for more even on days when I was super busy. The setting was remote and a bit spooky, and the plot was kept me guessing. Val McDermid seems to have been a writer with a style before her time. This reads more like Gone Girl than anything from the 90's. The book was in two parts which kept it fresh. I don't like to reveal too much in a book review. The summary has already been provided. I liked this author's fresh style of...more
Mariah
Boring boring boring. And tedious.
Mike Gabor
1963. 13 year old Alison Carter disappears without a trace from a small insular dale in England. Newly promoted DI George Bennett is assigned the case. Frustrated by the uncooperative local villagers, Bennett nonetheless pieces together a trail of clues that eventually lead to the arrest of a suspect, his conviction and execution.

1998. Bennett, now retired, is talked into relating the story of his investigation to a journalist Catherine Heathcote, who is writing a book on the case. Right before...more
Chris Mawbey
You know you've read a really good book when you've got to the end and feel a sense of loss that it's all over. The characters and settings have gone and you have to move on. It's at this point that you have to remind yourself that it's only a story.
Crime isn't really my genre but I picked this book because Val McDermid is well known and the story is set in Derbyshire, my home county. Within a few pages I was immersed in the region and the era. This is more a story about people than crime and I...more
Hazel McHaffie
A beautifully crafted book combining suspense and intrigue, mystery and the unexpected.
Angela Carter is only thirteen when she goes missing. At a time when the Moors murderers are just beginning their murderous rampage in the nearby Manchester area. She is the stepdaughter of the squire who owns the hamlet of Scardale. But the local in-bred community are in no hurry to help the police with their enquiries; they have no truck with 'outsiders'. Inspector George Bennett however is determined to fi...more
Sam
Written as a book within a book, A Place of Execution tells the story of Alison, a 13 year old who goes missing from the hamlet of Scardale in the 1960's. What starts off as a simple missing person case quickly develops into a complex web of intrigue, conspiracy and conceit with the full story not being realised until 30 years later when a journalist writes the story of the police investigation with the help of Inspector Bennett, the officer in charge of the case. This is a very atmospheric book...more
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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.

Series:
* Tony Hill & Carol Jordan
* Lindsay Gordon
* Kate Brannigan
More about Val McDermid...
The Mermaids Singing (Tony Hill & Carol Jordan, #1) The Wire In The Blood (Tony Hill & Carol Jordan, #2) The Torment of Others (Tony Hill & Carol Jordan, #4) Fever of the Bone (Tony Hill & Carol Jordan, #6) The Distant Echo

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