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The Distant Echo (Inspector Karen Pirie #1)

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  6,228 Ratings  ·  413 Reviews
Val McDermid's The Distant Echo is, even more so than with her previous work, a masterpiece of trickery and misdirection. 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 th ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 450 pages
Published September 27th 2004 by HarperCollins (first published January 1st 2003)
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Paul O'Neill
Mar 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was my first Val McDermid book and it certainly won't be my last!

Check out all my book blogs at

McDermid delivers a fantastic crime / mystery story set in my homeland of Fife, Scotland and she does a great job for presenting the different areas of Fife exactly how they are like in real life.

The story begins when four lads drunkenly stumble upon our victim, Rosie, after a night out who has been left for dead. The book then tells the tale of th
Sep 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio
3.5 stars
A carefully woven and paced crime / mystery / thriller. Very enjoyable and I recommend the audio version.
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 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 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
Brenda H
Mar 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Four friends are returning home after a night of revelry. Taking a shortcut through the local cemetery, they discover a nearly dead woman. As three remain to comfort and try to help the woman, the fourth races off to get help from the local police. This sets into motion a series of events that will change these young men forever and haunt them the rest of their lives.

The police are suspicious of the young men and begin to take their lives apart. Talking to their friends, searching their home and
Apr 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime
A classic cold case. The difference between witnesses and suspects is often difficult to define and this is a classic case of the witnesses a crime being treated as suspects, not just by the police but by the community in which they live.

Twenty five years later the truth begins to emerge and it it is not until the final confrontation between the perpetrator and the innocent witnesses that the last piece of evidence falls into place. Confession under Scottish law the author tells is not enough t
Stephen Clynes
Jul 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Mar 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Distant Echo by Val McDermid
Karen Pirie series Book #1
4 stars

From The Book:
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 Gilbey and his three best friends. With no evidence but her blood
on their hands, no one was ever charged.

Twenty five years later, the Cold Case file on Rosie Duff has been reopened. For Alex and his friends, the i
Сибин Майналовски
Малко мудно, но добро :)
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 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Irina Vérène
Rating: 2 Sterne (bis 56% gelesen)

- Mord (obviously)
- Blut
- Vergewaltigung (erwähnt, nicht on-page)
- sexuelle Inhalte (angedeutet, nicht graphic)
- Gewalt & Selbstjustiz, u.a. auch homofeindliche Gewalt
(view spoiler)
- Suizidgedanken/-versuch
- Alkoholkonsum
(view spoiler)

Ich garantiere nicht dafür, dass die Liste vollständig ist, da ich nur aus dem Gedächtnis aufgelistet habe, was mir so aufgefallen ist.
Mar 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2017
In 1978, four young university students are suspects in the murder of nineteen year old Rosie Duff. With no real evidence against them or anyone else, suspicion would follow them and change their lives forever. Twenty-five years later, the case would be re-opened as a cold case. This time, however, they would begin dying under suspicious circumstances. Clearly someone has decided them guilty of Rosie's murder and is exacting retribution.
I thought this book was very well written and easy to read
Jun 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read Val McDermid years ago and can't remember why I never resumed the brilliant series of Carol Jordan and Tony Hill (maybe because the TV series started??). However I was recommended to read Out of Bounds, which I found was the 4th instalment in the Detective Karen Pirie series and, being me, I always have to start at the beginning if I know it's a series, so I eagerly started this.

It begins with one of the greatest prologues I have ever read, and I was hooked completely.

I won't cover the pl
Jul 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the first in the Inspector Karen Pirie series, which I read after I’d read #2. Pirie only appears sporadically in this book so although I knew the killer at the outset it still felt like a new-to-me story, also because of McDermid’s skill in storytelling and creating character depth outside of the murders themselves. Short summary: a bar maid is found raped and murdered by four pals on their way home from a night of drinking and mischief making. Of course they become the prime suspects, ...more
I was surprised this was the start of a series with a new investigator since most series do not have the inspector start out as more of a secondary character; Usually, you will find an inspector more in the background a few books in. This is one thing I did not like in this book. Actually, I never care for the book with the main inspector not figuring into the main part of the story. I do not wish to pretend the author's premise here, but maybe she is working Karen Pirie in to build up to more i ...more
Jun 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Less violence & gore than the Tony and Carol books, but also less suspense. Still a nice dose of Scottish Noir.
This book starts in 1978 when four drunk college student friends, literally stumble over the body of Rosie Duff, an attractive server at their local pub. In the absence of any real investigation the police concentrate all their efforts on the four boys – Alex, Ziggy, Mondo and Weird. None of them are prepared for the personal attacks from Rosie's brothers or the prejudgment by the local citizens. Eventually, with no evidence tying them to the murder, they are sent home and never charged. We then ...more
This was a good lead-in novel to a series set in Scotland; said to feature Insepctor Karen Pirie, she plays a rather minor role in this first book, as her fellow officers investigate the murder of a young girl, with 4 friends being their prime suspects. The book opens during the time of the crime, then about half way through, skips ahead 20 years, when the unsolved murder is reopened, as a cold case with some possible new evidence, and the son of the deceased insisting that the murder be solved. ...more
Glen Stott
Dec 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Around the Year i...: The Distant Echo, by Val McDermid 1 9 Aug 25, 2017 01:20PM  
About the book 3 23 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)