Absolution: A Novel of Suspense

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A consummate debut novel of crime and obsession that The Washington Post dubbed "one of the year's best literary thrillers."
It's twenty years since police detective Alan McAlpine has set foot in Patrickhill Station—and more than twenty years since he fell forever in love with the mute, faceless woman he called Anna as she lay dying in Glasgow's Western Infirmary. Daily he'd watched over her, and they had begun to communicate with each other, she by moving her wounded fingers. ...
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A consummate debut novel of crime and obsession that The Washington Post dubbed "one of the year's best literary thrillers."
It's twenty years since police detective Alan McAlpine has set foot in Patrickhill Station—and more than twenty years since he fell forever in love with the mute, faceless woman he called Anna as she lay dying in Glasgow's Western Infirmary. Daily he'd watched over her, and they had begun to communicate with each other, she by moving her wounded fingers. Her fingers could not tell the sad, unseasoned police cadet her name, however, or name for him the father of her newborn baby girl or identify the assailants who had flung the acid in her once incomparably beautiful face. Or tell him how she'd smuggled a cache of uncut diamonds into Scotland.Now McAlpine is back in Patrickhill, where he's been summoned to head up the investigation of a disturbing murder case. Two women—their arms outstretched, their legs together and feet crossed at the ankle—have already died at the hands of a man the press has tagged the Crucifixion Killer.With crimes in the present continually detouring both McAlpine and the elusive killer he pursues into an unredeemed past, the mystery in this steely, piercing psychological thriller is as gripping as its twists are surprising. And absolution proves to be extreme.
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Editorial Reviews

Patrick Anderson
As she tells her story, Ramsay often introduces a character or a conversation whose identity or meaning we simply don't know. She keeps us guessing and explains things in her own sweet time. It works because the story she tells, although leisurely, is highly literate and entirely engrossing…Absolution is among the year's best literary thrillers. It's another reminder of how many of today's most talented young writers, who 20 years ago would have pursued literary fiction, are drawn to crime fiction for both its artistic and commercial possibilities. Among Americans, Dennis Lehane, who advanced from private-eye novels to is a prime example. Based on this first effort, we have reason to expect more good things from Caro Ramsay of Glasgow.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly

Scottish author Ramsay's atmospheric and melancholic novel is a solid but unremarkable debut. Deeply flawed Glaswegian police constable Alan McAlpine is obsessed with an unsolved case more than two decades old, involving an acid attack on a young pregnant woman who committed suicide shortly after giving birth. As McAlpine investigates a bizarre series of "Crucifixion" murders, in which all the victims have been disemboweled and laid out with arms spread and feet crossed at the ankle, he begins to suspect that this killer is somehow tied to the mystery of his "blonde angel." The pacing is sluggish, but Ramsay manages to paint a vivid picture of rain-lashed Glasgow. The stark late autumn landscape is a fitting backdrop to the brutal murders as well as McAlpine's dark epiphanies. Ramsay has tremendous potential, but there needs to be more to McAlpine than formulaic angst if he's to succeed as a series protagonist. (Nov.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal

Scottish author Ramsay's first novel is an intricately plotted police procedural set in Glasgow. Twenty-two years ago, Detective Chief Inspector Alan McAlpine was assigned a case involving a young pregnant Jane Doe he called "Anna." Acid had been thrown over her face and body, and McAlpine struggled to communicate with her to learn her identity, building a connection with the woman that he has never forgotten. Now he's assigned to head a team investigating a serial killer preying on women, and thoughts of Anna continue to haunt him although there is no apparent connection between the two cases. There is also no apparent connection among the serial killer's victims, which makes the investigating team's task infinitely more difficult. As the pressure mounts, McAlpine slides into drunkeness, and his obsession with Anna takes on a greater significance for him than the serial killer's victims. Answers begin to emerge as the novel rushes to an inevitable though surprising conclusion. Readers of British psychological mysteries will be pleased with Ramsay's skillful plotting and anxious to see more of her work. Recommended for all mystery collections.
—Lisa O'Hara

Library Journal
Police Detective Alan McAlpine faces the consequences of a haunting 20-year-old cold case in Patrickhill, Glasgow, in this debut by Glasgow resident Ramsay. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Glasgow-born Ramsay's debut novel combines several gruesome killings spanning a 22-year period with the story of a haunting and unresolved love. Alan McAlpine is a young officer just coming to terms with his brother's death and his mother's illness and grief when he's assigned to guard an unidentified woman in white. An acid attack has destroyed the woman's face and left her unable to see or speak. She's given birth to a girl she hasn't been allowed to touch. Knowing instinctively what she wants, McAlpine places the baby where she can feel it. When the woman is identified and connected to a heartbreaking event that touches McAlpine's personal life, he's barred from her room. Twenty two years later, McAlpine is married to Helena, an heiress he met when her mother died in a car accident. An artist of some renown, Helena is tolerant of McAlpine's job, but recoils, like the rest of Glasgow, at a series of murders that McAlpine investigates involving disemboweled victims who have been positioned as though crucified. In order to solve the case, McAlpine, now a senior police official, must return to the station where he began his career more than two decades before and confront the past as well as a serial killer. Ramsay shows some promise, but unlikely coincidences, a forest of characters, meandering dialogue and Scottish-centric colloquialisms hamper the story.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780594434504
  • Publisher: Pegasus
  • Publication date: 2/24/2009
  • Pages: 416
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.70 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Caro Ramsay was born and educated in Glasgow. She has been writing crime stories since she was five years old, developing the talent that led her to write Absolution, her first novel. Ramsay lives in a village on the west coast of Scotland.
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