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A Place of Execution

4.1 of 5 stars 4.10  ·  rating details  ·  5,316 ratings  ·  426 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
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
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
Joseph
This book will stay with me for a long time. There's no easy way to describe how much I enjoyed reading it and how deep into the story I felt myself immersing. I read it slowly so as to savour each chapter.

1998. Catherine Heathcote is a journalist writing a book about a 35-year-old mystery. She is hoping to persuade retired Chief Inspector George Bennett to open up about the case after a long silence.

It's December 1963 and a mother frantically calls the police, reporting her thirteen-year-old da
...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
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
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
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
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
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
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!
Mariah
Boring boring boring. And tedious.
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
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
Sarah
Apr 20, 2009 Sarah rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Sarah by: Linda Slamon
A Place of Execution is constructed well, the split time periods are incredibly effective in providing a punch to the ending of the story. Val McDermid's description of the town of Scardale is atmospheric to the point that you can feel a sort of heaviness as you read. The mystery is fascinating in it's simplicity, it follows the invesigation and unlike most mystery authors she does attempt to infuse the book with the menace of an undiscovered criminal. The sections concerning legal procedure wer ...more
Craig
Feb 25, 2015 Craig rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Mystery Lovers, Mystery Newbies, Angliophiles
Recommended to Craig by: http://www.crimepays.com/


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 hooked as each new unexpected twist was revealed. I bought this book two years ago on the recommendation of the the owner of Partners In Crime (http://w
...more
Kaethe
January 1, 2001
January 9, 2015

I'm sorry I didn't keep any comments from my original reading; I'd love to compare them. What I do know is that I liked the book even better, despite knowing the big twist. The greatest strength of the book is the earnest young detective doing his best to solve a heinous crime in 1963 without any preparation but his own sensitivity. Aces there. And although the book deals with repeated rape and sexual abuse of a minor, there is no titillation in it: all the reaction
...more
Karen
I had a premonition this might happen by those "afterwards" few chapters. I had no sympathy for the villain however and was glad he got such an ending to his depravity of evil
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
Naomi
I saw this book made into a PBS Masterpiece Contemporary film and that is when I fell in love with Val McDermid's writing. I can't believe I am saying this, but I thought the movie did a much better job portraying the story....simply because of the flow. The movie wove past and present into the story where Ms. McDermid did the past first and then went into the present. If I did not already know the outcome, I would have been like "what is the point?" Still a fantastic read and I would follow it ...more
Bookmuseuk
I first heard of A Place of Execution via an interview with Val McDermid on the BBC’s World Book Club. It made me desperate to read it, but the book was published in 1999 and – shockingly – neither my local bookshop nor my library could supply it. So I’ve had to wait to sample what was described as McDermid’s best book.

I’ve always liked novels that break the boundaries of what crime fiction can be, and A Place of Execution is certainly one of those. The first part of the book purports to be by a
...more
Robin
In December 1963, thirteen-year-old Alison Carter vanishes from an isolated village in the English countryside. Her disappearance is investigated by newly promoted inspector George Bennett. The people of the village don't like outsiders, so George must earn their trust in order to solve the case. As days pass and clues are uncovered, George believes he will not be finding Alison alive.

This story is told in basically three parts. First we have the disappearance and the procedural investigation. N
...more
Sam
I would never normally have chosen this book for myself. It is dark, it has unsettling themes and it references true crimes, which I usually avoid like the plague, especially when they are so local and so still in the public mind.

The premise is that during the 1960's, when two children had already gone missing in the Manchester/Cheshire area (but before Ian Brady & Myra Hindley were the infamous names that they are today), a teenage girl goes missing from a remote Derbyshire community.

A you
...more
Shom Biswas
A Place Of Execution
Author : Val McDermid

Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Detection

Source - Audiobook

Rating - 4

April 14

The problem with reading two detective novels that are absolute all-time greats by masters of their games (namely 'The devotion of Suspect X' by Keigo Higashino and 'Gone Girl' by Gillian Flynn), is that a perfectly good, rather well-written detective novel such as this, would still leave you with a feeling of 'that's all?' after you are done with it. This is a fine example of a detect
...more
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5672
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
More about Val McDermid...
The Mermaids Singing (Tony Hill & Carol Jordan, #1) The Wire In The Blood (Tony Hill & Carol Jordan, #2) Fever of the Bone (Tony Hill & Carol Jordan, #6) The Distant Echo The Torment of Others (Tony Hill & Carol Jordan, #4)

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