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A Place of Execution

4.1  ·  Rating Details ·  6,684 Ratings  ·  513 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

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Feb 02, 2009 Jon rated it did not like it
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
Sep 04, 2008 Jody rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 12, 2011 Hannah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Hannah by: Kim
Shelves: mysteries, 2011-reads
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
Jul 21, 2011 Kim rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime-fiction
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
Rick Soper
Jan 23, 2013 Rick Soper rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 05, 2010 Kelly rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
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
Sheila Myers
Oct 06, 2016 Sheila Myers rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery
An interesting mystery. Unlike many mystery novels, this one includes both the crime and police work, followed chapters covering the court case so readers discover what happens to the suspect. Yet that doesn't end the story, as the third section presents a twist to everything read to that point. I enjoyed the way Val McDermid developed the characters in such a way that they seem like real people.
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
Feb 11, 2009 Mariah rated it it was ok
Boring boring boring. And tedious.
Joseph - Relax And Read Reviews
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
Lisa Lilly
Aug 29, 2015 Lisa Lilly rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 21, 2011 Jay rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 16, 2013 Bookguide rated it really liked it
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
Jul 29, 2016 Sarah rated it it was amazing
Shelves: crimepieces
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
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
Aug 12, 2015 Gary rated it really liked it
A very well written novel that keeps you gripped to the very end.
Although the story content is quite disturbing it hooked me and I was unable to put the book down.
This was my first Val McDermid book and after this plan to read more.
João Carlos
“Sentença de Morte”, editado em 1999, pela escritora escocesa Val McDermid (n. 1955) - apresenta-nos a jornalista/escritora Catherine Heathcote iniciando uma pesquisa, para escrever um livro sobre o desaparecimento de Alison Carter, de 13 anos, numa noite gélida, em 11 de Dezembro de 1963.

“A rapariga dizia adeus à sua vida. Não era uma despedida fácil.

Não dispunha, no entanto, de qualquer outra hipótese. A rapariga tinha de dizer adeus à sua vida.
Para sempre.”

Alison Carter vive na pequena aldei
Chris Mawbey
Apr 05, 2014 Chris Mawbey rated it it was amazing
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
Sharon Jacobsen
Mar 03, 2013 Sharon Jacobsen rated it it was amazing
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,
Feb 25, 2015 Craig rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Mystery Lovers, Mystery Newbies, Angliophiles
Recommended to Craig by:

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
Jun 27, 2015 _speedy rated it really liked it
The girl was saying goodbye to her life. And it was no easy farewell.
Like any teenager, she'd always found plenty to complain about. But now that she was about to lose it, this life suddenly seemed very desirable. Now at last she began to understand why her elderly relatives clung so tenaciously to every precious moment, even if it was riven with pain. However bad this life was, the alternative was infinitely worse.

What happend to Alison Carter?
It's the question everyone was asking in the wint
Mar 06, 2016 Chuck rated it really liked it
This is my first exposure to Val McDermid and my appreciation for her improved steadily as I allowed her to lead me down her garden path. It takes place in 1960's England and tells of the disappearance of a thirteen year old girl from her home in a tiny hamlet in central England. The case is given to a young, newly appointed Detective Inspector, George Bennett, who has not been given the lead role in an investigation of this magnitude before. It takes awhile for this aircraft to reach take off s ...more
Nicole Marble
Jun 29, 2008 Nicole Marble rated it it was amazing
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!
Nov 30, 2009 Chris rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
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.
Iain Spence
Aug 27, 2016 Iain Spence rated it it was amazing
Plenty of twists & turns to keep it interesting and enough action to keep the pages turning. Great!
aPriL does feral sometimes
I wish the author had not kept talking about tea in so many scenes, and a journalist character called Don Smart wrote newspaper articles that were far duller than the author meant to convey, plus the insertion of news stories on other missing kids felt beside-the-point and wrong as the story progressed. The writing faults made this otherwise thrilling book deserving of four stars in my opinion; however, since I literally could not put the book down for an entire day except for cooking and shower ...more
Sep 17, 2016 Barbara rated it really liked it
Excellent. Should be 4.5 stars!
Sep 16, 2013 Agnesxnitt rated it really liked it
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
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
Jill Hutchinson
Jun 23, 2015 Jill Hutchinson rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery
I don't know if I ever met author Val McDermid if I would bop her over the head or shake her hand!!!! Here is a good police procedural, moving along at a nice pace with good character development and an interesting story........and then, the author turns you upside down with a twist in the last third of the book that you did not see coming (or at least I didn't)and it changes all that went before. And what a twist it is which of course I will not reveal here. The story takes place in an isolated ...more
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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
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“They think of policemen as they do of Labradors – noble, loyal, good with children, man’s protector and friend. In” 0 likes
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