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Historical Group Reads > July/August 2011 Group Read Category 1: A Place of Execution

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message 1: by Kim (last edited Jul 13, 2011 03:34PM) (new)

Kim (kimmr) Hi there everyone. Welcome to the July/August Group read of Val McDermid's A Place of Execution!

This book is considered to be one of Val McDermid's best. First published in 1999, it won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the 2001 Dilys Award. In addition, it was shortlisted for the Gold Dagger Award and the Edgar Award and was chosen by the New York Times as one of the most notable books of the year.

The main setting of the novel is the Peak District in England. To give you a sense of the location, here are links to some information and some images of the area.

http://www.peakdistrict.gov.uk/

http://www.google.com.au/search?q=the...

The novel refers to a series of child murders which took place in England in the 1960s, known as the Moors Murders. Here's a link to a very brief article about these murders.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk/659266.stm

I have also included a link to a podcast about A Place of Execution which Val McDermid did for BBC World Book Club in June this year. (Just scroll down the list of podcasts till you find it). I suggest not listening to the podcast until you have finished the book, in order to avoid spoilers. I've listened to the first few minutes only and it sounds very interesting.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/...

Enjoy reading, everyone! I look forward to your comments and in particular to your views about the main themes of the novel. (And remember to hide spoilers by following instructions in the (some html is ok) link at the top of the comment box!)


message 2: by Robert (new)

Robert (bobhe) Any one read this one? How much linked to Moors murders? In the uk these are probably the most notorious murders ever!!
Not sure I fancy reading if too close
Bob


message 3: by Gatorman (new)

Gatorman | 7679 comments I loved this book, definitely my favorite by McDermid. Don't recall it being too closely linked to the Moors Murders. Great plot and a fantastic ending, can't really say too much without giving it away.


message 4: by Donna, Co-Moderator (new)

Donna | 2178 comments Mod
Started this last night and not too far along but very, very, good so far. I haven't had time to explore the links you posted, Kim, but I am looking forward to it.


message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

This was excellent. A miscarriage of justice that I thought worked very well. The mystery was well set up and the characters felt real. The twist was brilliant and I didn't guess it.


message 6: by Kim (new)

Kim (kimmr) Robert wrote: "Any one read this one? How much linked to Moors murders? In the uk these are probably the most notorious murders ever!!
Not sure I fancy reading if too close
Bob"


Bob, the novel isn't about the Moors Murders. However, part of it is set in the same time and general location, so the murders are referred to as part of the setting of the scene.


message 7: by Carol (new)

Carol | 152 comments Thanks for all the great background information, Kim! I get to pick up my copy at the library today and now I'm very motivated to get started!


message 8: by Kelly (new)

Kelly | 48 comments I just picked mine up from the library yesterday and am ready to go!


message 9: by Jane (new)

Jane (bjaneb) | 2 comments Downloaded my digital copy today and hope to get started on it tonight.


message 10: by Dena (new)

Dena | 97 comments Good choice for this month's book. Thanks for the nomination and the background material Kim.
I down-loaded and read the book yesterday and couldn't fix dinner because I needed to finish it. Luckily my supportive (enabling?) husband went for take out.
The writing is very good and the storyline certainly held my interest. The amount of detail of events and faces people were able to remember after 35 years seems a bit hard to believe.


message 11: by Karendenice (new)

Karendenice I just found my copy in the back and bottom of my closet. :}


message 12: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 35401 comments I have had this book on my shelf for years. Even before it was on PBS years ago.

So it is about time I got off page 12.

I was reading some of the blurbs for it - hard to beat Robert Crais, Ian Rankin and Michael Connelly.


message 13: by Mary (new)

Mary Glad this one won. It's a fantastic read, very clever plot, excellent piece of writing. I saw the T.V. adaptation also and it translated well to the screen version. I will put this on my list to re-read.


message 14: by Diane S ☔ (new)

Diane S ☔ | 15 comments I love Val McDermid and I know I read this when it first came out, but think I need to read it again for a refresher.


message 15: by Cathleen (new)

Cathleen | 38 comments I've never read a Val McDermid novel before, so I'm looking forward to finishing reading this and listening/participating in the discussion. I downloaded it to my Nook last night--and read the first 70 pages in a blink!


message 16: by Deanne (new)

Deanne | 94 comments Read this years ago, and remember it as being a great read, also found it interesting as I live in Derbyshire and the Peak district is on my doorstep.
Love McDermid and look out for her next book with anticipation.


message 17: by Kim (new)

Kim (kimmr) I appreciate that some of you may not have got very far as yet, but I'm wondering what you think about McDermid's evocation of the 1960s in the first part of the novel. Successful? A bit forced? Anything that strikes you as particularly interesting, either in a positive or negative way? (Please remember to hide any spoilers).


message 18: by Terri Lynn (new)

Terri Lynn (terrilynnmerritts) | 15 comments I am so excited to be reading both this and THE THIN MAN this month! Great choices everyone.


message 19: by Terri Lynn (new)

Terri Lynn (terrilynnmerritts) | 15 comments Kim, I also greatly appreciate those links you posted. What a treat it is to be able to see the actual location where the book is set and learn more. I will save the podcast for when I finish the book to avoid spoilers. Thanks so much for the links.


message 20: by Kim (new)

Kim (kimmr) You're welcome, Terri. I really hope that you enjoy the book.


message 21: by Donna, Co-Moderator (new)

Donna | 2178 comments Mod
Hi Kim. I do think the McDermid has done a very good job capturing the spirit of the 1960s. I did have to smile at the reference to Land Rovers as something inferior to "cars". Today Land Rovers are luxury vehicles here in the US.


message 22: by [deleted user] (new)

Kim,

Thanks for going to all the trouble to post links to the Peak District, so those who haven't been there can get a sense of place, even though I think Val McDermid had described it very well.


message 23: by Cathleen (new)

Cathleen | 38 comments Dear Kim--Thank you so much for adding all the links to the Peak District. McDermid describes the setting in detail, and I thought I could picture it, but the links to the photos helped me visualize the setting even more.

The one striking feature re the 1960s was how frequently all of the adults smoke cigarettes. That seemed to anchor the novel firmly in another decade, another time.

I'm really enjoying the book so far, and looking forward to getting a bit further in so I can discuss it more completely.


message 24: by Kim (new)

Kim (kimmr) Cathleen wrote: "The one striking feature re the 1960s was how frequently all of the adults smoke cigarettes. That seemed to anchor the novel firmly in another decade, another time. ..."

The smoking thing is interesting, isn't it. Having lots of characters smoke is certainly an almost instant way of evoking an earlier decade. It's made me wonder what writers will do in forty or fifty years time if they want to re-create the decade we're in now. Will they have all the characters fiddling with mp3 players and cell phones?

Donna wrote: "Today Land Rovers are luxury vehicles here in the US. ..."

That's a good point, Donna. I hadn't thought about that in connection with the 60s. Where I come from Land Rovers are still mostly used in rural areas and Range Rovers are the expensive city version. But in those days wealthy city people didn't drive that kind of vehicle at all.


message 25: by Kim (new)

Kim (kimmr) Deanne wrote: "Read this years ago, and remember it as being a great read, also found it interesting as I live in Derbyshire and the Peak district is on my doorstep.
Love McDermid and look out for her next book ..."


I've never been to the Peak District, Deanne. Next time I go to the UK, it will definitely be on my list of places to go. After reading this book, I think that it would be good to choose a season other than winter.

I know that in years past I read another crime fiction novel which was set in the Peak district. But I can't remember what it was, which is now going to bug me no end!


message 26: by Anna (new)

Anna | 371 comments I'm new to this group and have just picked up this book from the library. It's my first Val McDermid novel too so looking forward to seeing what it's like.


message 27: by Mary (last edited Jul 19, 2011 11:35AM) (new)

Mary This is one of her stand-alone novels, then, she has the "Tony Hill" series, which I would highly recommend. The first one beingThe Mermaids Singing is a great book. Enjoy "A Place of Execution", it's a great read.


message 28: by Deanne (new)

Deanne | 94 comments Kim
Stephen Booth sets his books in the peak district, started with Black Dog. Is this who you were thinking of.


message 29: by Kim (new)

Kim (kimmr) Diane wrote: "Texting. Everytime they would have reached for a cigarette in the past, they will text instead."

Diane, you are so right. Nothing would say 2011 better!


message 30: by Kim (last edited Jul 19, 2011 01:27PM) (new)

Kim (kimmr) Deanne wrote: "Kim
Stephen Booth sets his books in the peak district, started with Black Dog. Is this who you were thinking of."


Unfortunately that's not it, Deanne, because I've never read any Stephen Booth. I'm wondering now whether it was a Reginald Hill novel, although I'm not convinced that's right.


message 31: by Kim (new)

Kim (kimmr) Anna wrote: "I'm new to this group and have just picked up this book from the library. It's my first Val McDermid novel too so looking forward to seeing what it's like."

Welcome to the group and the group read, Anna. I hope you like the book.


message 32: by Stephen (new)

Stephen Booth (stephenbooth) | 3 comments Deanne wrote: "Kim
Stephen Booth sets his books in the peak district, started with Black Dog. Is this who you were thinking of."


Yes, I'm afraid most of the crime novels set in the Peak District are written by me! :)

But if it wasn't me, Kim, you're probably thinking of 'In Pursuit of the Proper Sinner' by Elizabeth George.

(Val's 'A Place of Execution' is the best of the lot, of course).

Hope that helps!


message 33: by Kim (last edited Jul 20, 2011 04:11AM) (new)

Kim (kimmr) Stephen wrote: "Yes, I'm afraid most of the crime novels set in the Peak District are written by me! :)

But if it wasn't me, Kim, you're probably thinking of 'In Pursuit of the Proper Sinner' by Elizabeth George. ..."


Elizabeth George it is. Thank you so much for saving me from days of frustration, Stephen. Knowing that your books are set in the Peak District is a very good reason for me to check them out. That and the fact that you've saved my sanity!

PS. Black Dog now on my TBR list!


message 34: by Sandy (new)

Sandy (SandyLamar) | 33 comments They've arrested a suspect and am having trouble putting this down. What a good choice for the group read! As the events unfold I really am having trouble remembering that this is a novel, it's so realistic.

Just curious, would you say this is more police procedural than anything?


message 35: by Donna, Co-Moderator (new)

Donna | 2178 comments Mod
Another thing you would probably not see as much today is all the brewing a cuppa by the WPCs.

Sandy, I would classify the beginning as a police procedural but I'm not sure what the other part would be.


message 36: by Diane S ☔ (new)

Diane S ☔ | 15 comments Think she is one of the queens of suspense. Yes alot polive procedural but some regional history and alot of atmospheric suspense.


message 37: by Kim (new)

Kim (kimmr) Sandy wrote: "Just curious, would you say this is more police procedural than anything? ..."

I agree that the beginning of the novel has elements of the police procedural. However, it purports to be a "true crime" account written by a journalist in the style of a police procedural. The novel then evolves into something quite different, part of which is - in my view - an examination of the consequences of police and judicial procedures. I think it is evidence of Val McDermid's skill as a writer that the novel can't be classified in any straightforward way.

I found this article about the development of the British police procedural, which might be of interest.

http://www.classiccrimefiction.com/br...


message 38: by Sandy (new)

Sandy (SandyLamar) | 33 comments Diane wrote: "Think she is one of the queens of suspense. Yes a lot police procedural but some regional history and a lot of atmospheric suspense."

I see that, and will seek out her other books for my TBR list. She is an excellent writer.

I also appreciated the original posting/links about the area, Kim, as it helped me picture all the searching over rough terrain. Having hiked in the White Mountains of New Hampshire I can imagine how difficult it would be to spot anything.


message 39: by Sandy (last edited Jul 22, 2011 10:59AM) (new)

Sandy (SandyLamar) | 33 comments Kim wrote: "I appreciate that some of you may not have got very far as yet, but I'm wondering what you think about McDermid's evocation of the 1960s in the first part of the novel. Successful? A bit forced? An..."

I don't think anyone bit on this question, but I'm old enough to remember the songs, how avidly we grabbed the new music, and really how innocent we were compared to the worldly wise teenagers of today. That was before the pill was readily available, before Vietnam, before a real loss of faith in authority (at least in the US). So even though I couldn't relate to the small town life, I think she evoked the era and described the teens brilliantly.


message 40: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 35401 comments Sandy wrote: "Kim wrote: "I appreciate that some of you may not have got very far as yet, but I'm wondering what you think about McDermid's evocation of the 1960s in the first part of the novel. Successful? A bi..."

It was surprising to me that I was the same age as the narrator and the victim. It had me recalling much that happened to me in mid-'60s.


message 41: by Carol (new)

Carol | 152 comments Jan C wrote: "Sandy wrote: "Kim wrote: "I appreciate that some of you may not have got very far as yet, but I'm wondering what you think about McDermid's evocation of the 1960s in the first part of the novel. Su..."

Yes, I grew up in the 60's and I remember a lot of the songs mentioned and the British Invasion groups. I finished the book tonight. What a great read! I loved the way McDermid set the book up. There were so many parts to the story. I got halfway through and (view spoiler)
I'm looking forward to hearing how others liked the way the story was organized.


message 42: by Anna (new)

Anna | 371 comments Kim wrote: "Anna wrote: "I'm new to this group and have just picked up this book from the library. It's my first Val McDermid novel too so looking forward to seeing what it's like."

Welcome to the group and ..."


I'm enjoying it very much. I was at the library this morning and had to stop myself getting another Val McDermid novel as I think I'm going to want to read more of her books.

I love her description of the Peak District. I've been there and some of the more remote parts are very bleak indeed and this comes over well in the novel. I'm also enjoying the descriptions of the 1960's. The only thing missing so far are mini skirts.


message 43: by Deanne (new)

Deanne | 94 comments Kim
When you do get to the Peak district make sure you bring warm clothes, summer only lasts about a day. Look out for Scarfell pike and the towns of Matlock, Bakewell and Buxton.
If you arrive in summer there is the tradition in the Peak district of well dressing.

Had to stop myself buying a McDermid book today, as i've got so many books at home to read as it is.


message 44: by Dena (new)

Dena | 97 comments Anna wrote: "Kim wrote: "Anna wrote: "I'm new to this group and have just picked up this book from the library. It's my first Val McDermid novel too so looking forward to seeing what it's like."

Welcome to ..."

I remember the mini skirts being later in the 60's. Maybe 66 or 67. Maybe they were later here in the mid-west.


message 45: by Patricia (new)

Patricia (pg4003) | 50 comments Dena, mini-skirts were popular as early as 1963. I graduated in 1965 and was wearing mini-skirts before that.


message 46: by Dena (new)

Dena | 97 comments Must have been my very conservative up-bringing.


message 47: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 35401 comments I don't think that I remember them much before '65.


message 48: by Anna (new)

Anna | 371 comments I just googled the mini skirt and it said that it didn't become very popular until Mary Quant made it fashionable in 1965. So, it wouldn't have been around in 1963. Val McDermid's research is spot on with this one.


message 49: by Pat (last edited Jul 23, 2011 01:58PM) (new)

Pat Hi everyone! I have been a member of this group for some time now, but have never participated in a group read.
I'll have to agree that this book is bringing back memories of the sixties for me too. The Beatles...WoW...their appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show...Double WoW! I remember my mom sitting in a chair watching the show and saying that this crazy music and those weird haircuts will be ancient history in a few months from now. Ha.Ha. Mom. I found it interesting that there was apparently no TV reception in Scardale yet despite their remoteness, Beatlemania found them.
I remember wearing mini skirts as early as 1965, but never to school. The rule was mid-knee length and we
were sent home if any shorter.
Thanks Kim, for the links to the Peak District. I love to have a visual while reading about places I'm not familar with.


message 50: by Diane S ☔ (new)

Diane S ☔ | 15 comments I remeber we had to wear skirts or dresses to school until I was in the middle of my sophmore year, when the board of education finally changed its policy and allowed girls to wear slacks. But I agree this book covers an awful lot of territory from culture to history and does it all so well without sacrificing the characters nor the mystery. This is the mark of a truly talented writer I believe.


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