The Distant Echo [NOOK Book]

Overview

It's four in the morning, mid-December, and snow blankets St. Andrews School. Student Alex Gilbey and his three best friends are staggering home from a party when they stumble upon the body of a young woman. Rosie Duff has been raped, stabbed, and left for dead in the ancient Pictish cemetery. And the only suspects are the four young students with her blood.

Twenty-five years later, police mount a cold-case review. Among the unsolved murders they're examining is that of Rosie ...

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The Distant Echo

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Overview

It's four in the morning, mid-December, and snow blankets St. Andrews School. Student Alex Gilbey and his three best friends are staggering home from a party when they stumble upon the body of a young woman. Rosie Duff has been raped, stabbed, and left for dead in the ancient Pictish cemetery. And the only suspects are the four young students with her blood.

Twenty-five years later, police mount a cold-case review. Among the unsolved murders they're examining is that of Rosie Duff. But someone else has his own idea of how justice should be served. One of the original quartet dies in a suspicious house fire. Soon after, a second is killed in what looks like a burglary gone sour. But Alex fears the worst: Someone is taking revenge for Rosie Duff. He has to find out who it is before he becomes the next victim. And it might just save his life if he can uncover who really killed Rosie all those years ago.

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times
McDermid administers the venom drop by drop -- the cruelty of fellow students, the animosity of the town police, the vengeful anger of Rosie's loutish brothers -- until it corrodes the relationship of the four childhood friends. Things get worse when the cold case is reopened years later, inciting the killer to more murder. Individually, the characters are sensitively drawn. Collectively, they present the inscrutable face of closed-off communities so terrified of change they would kill for peace. — Marilyn Stasio
The Washington Post
As fine as the first half of The Distant Echo is, this latter section is where the novel really turns into something rich and strange. While still wide-ranging in focus, the novel also begins to concentrate more on one of the four former students, Alex Gilbey, a level-headed guy who's settled into a nice business and a good marriage. As the dormant murderer begins to stir once again, Alex desperately calls upon his wits and his middle-aged muscle to try to shove his family and friends out of danger. — Maureen Corrigan
Publishers Weekly
This absorbing psychological novel of revenge shows British author McDermid (A Place of Execution) at the top of her form. In part one, set in 1978 in St. Andrews, Scotland, four drunken male students, friends since childhood, stumble over the raped and stabbed body of a dying woman, Rosie Duff, while staggering home through a snow storm. Though her violent brothers are convinced of their guilt, no one is charged with Rosie's murder. In part two, 25 years later, the police hope new forensic technologies will solve the crime, and suddenly someone is stalking the four men, whose lives have been haunted and their relationships changed by the murder. Two die, supposedly by accident, and the remaining pair, Alex Gilbey and Tom Mackie, must find out what happened before they're killed, too. James Lawson, an assistant chief constable who was a junior cop in 1978, wants to close the case and avenge the death of his admired superior, DI Barney Maclennan, who fell from a cliff during the initial inquiry. When Graham Macfadyen, who claims he's Rosie's illegitimate son and also seeking revenge, contacts Lawson, the investigation takes a startling turn. Only the careful reader will anticipate the stunning conclusion, which makes perfect sense. Outstanding pacing, character and plot development, plus evocative place descriptions, make this another winner. (Oct. 20) Forecast: The author has had an eager audience since A Place of Execution (2000) won a number of prestigious awards, including the Anthony and Macavity. Lacking the gruesome forensic detail of some of her other books, this latest should draw additional readers as well as viewers of the recent TV adaptation of her Gold Dagger-winning novel, The Mermaids Singing (1995). Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Winter of 1978, St. Andrews University, Scotland. Four drunken young students on their way home from a party stumble upon local barmaid Rosie Duff, who has been raped, stabbed, and left to die. Unable to save her, the men become suspects in the case but are never formally charged. The stigma and shame of the experience follows these men into their adult lives. About 25 years later, two of the four men have been murdered. The remaining two, Alex Gilbery and the Rev. Tom Mackie, must identify their friends' killer before they become the next victims of this revenge murder spree. Having grown up on the east coast of Scotland, where this story takes place, McDermid (Killing the Shadows) ably depicts St. Andrews. The cast of characters is almost too large to allow the reader to get to know and care about them. Still, McDermid keeps the suspense rising until the end, even after the astute reader will have figured out the killer's identity. Recommended for public libraries.-Jane la Plante, Minot State Univ. Lib., ND Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
New forensic breakthroughs reopen a 25-year-old cold case. In the meantime, most of the forensic evidence has disappeared from the Fife storage lockup, and two of the four principal suspects have moved to the States. Still, Assistant Chief Constable James Lawson, who was a young copper patrolling the snowbound streets that December night, seems determined to prove the young students who fell over the body of pretty barmaid Rosie Duff on their drunken way home really did rape and kill her. These days, Ziggy is a much-admired gay pediatrician in Seattle; Tom is a born-again Christian proselytizing in the South; Mondo is a snobbish literature professor in Glasgow; and Alex, married to Mondo's sister Lynn, manufactures greeting cards in Edinburgh. But Rosie's two brothers haven't forgotten or forgiven, and her illegitimate son Graham is skulking about with vengeance in mind. All of them are spurring on Lawson, who seems to be making no headway on the case. Then, suddenly, Ziggy dies in an arson fire, Mondo becomes an intruder's victim, Tom is waylaid while visiting Alex, and Alex's new baby is abducted at a petrol station. Mere coincidence, says Lawson, but a chip of paint will prove him wrong. McDermid, putting aside her fondness for serial killers (The Last Temptation, 2002, etc.), masterfully presents the 1978 portion of her story but stumbles so badly with melodramatic present-tense plot quirks that readers will be well ahead of Lawson in naming Rosie's killer. Author tour. Agent: Jane Gregory/Gregory & Radice
From the Publisher
"Cunningly plotted...McDermid administers the venom drop by drop...Individually the characters are sensitively drawn. Collectively, they present the inscrutable face of closed-off communities so terrified of change they would kill for peace."—New York Times Book Review

"This absorbing pychological novel of revenge shows British author McDermid at the top of her form...outstanding pacing, character and plot development, plus evocative place descriptions, make this another winner."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"If you still haven't absorbed the fact that Val McDermid is writing at the top of anyone's game, here's another chance to join the celebration...her clean, crisp writing, especially about crime science, might just remind you of the early books of P.D. James." -Chicago Tribune

"McDermid, whose reputation and popularity are growing incrementally with each new book, is very like P.D. James in her masterful mixing of forensic science with brisk plots and in-depth characterization." -Booklist (star review)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781429977623
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 4/1/2007
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 134,790
  • File size: 426 KB

Meet the Author

Val McDermid grew up in a Scottish mining community and then read English at Oxford. She was a journalist for sixteen years and is now a full-time writer and lives in South Manchester. In 1995, she won the Gold Dagger Award for Best Crime Novel of the Year. Her most recent novel, A Place of Execution, won a Los Angeles Times Book Prize, was nominated for the Edgar Award for Best Novel, and named a New York Times Notable Book of the Year.

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Read an Excerpt


1978; St. Andrews, Scotland

Four in the morning, the dead of December. Four bleary outlines wavered in the snow flurries that drifted at the beck and call of the snell northeasterly wind whipping across the North Sea from the Urals. The eight stumbling feet of the self-styled Laddies fi’ Kirkcaldy traced the familiar path of their shortcut over Hallow Hill to Fife Park, the most modern of the halls of residence attached to St. Andrews University, where their perpetually unmade beds yawned a welcome, lolling tongues of sheets and blankets trailing to the floors.

The conversation staggered along lines as habitual as their route. “I’m telling you, Bowie is the king,” Sigmund Malkiewicz slurred loudly, his normally impassive face loosened with drink. A few steps behind him, Alex Gilbey yanked the hood of his parka closer to his face and giggled inwardly as he silently mouthed the reply he knew would come.

“Bollocks,” said Davey Kerr. “Bowie’s just a big jessie. Pink Floyd can run rings round Bowie any day of the week. Dark Side of the Moon, that’s an epic. Bowie’s done nothing to touch that.” His long dark curls were loosening under the weight of melted snowflakes and he pushed them back impatiently from his waiflike face.

And they were off. Like wizards casting combative spells at each other, Sigmund and Davey threw song titles, lyrics and guitar riffs back and forth in the ritual dance of an argument they’d been having for the past six or seven years. It didn’t matter that, these days, the music rattling the windows of their student rooms was more likely to come from the Clash, the Jam or the Skids. Even their nicknames spoke of their early passions. From the very first afternoon they’d congregated in Alex’s bedroom after school to listen to his purchase of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, it had been inevitable that the charismatic Sigmund would be Ziggy, the leper messiah, for eternity. And the others would have to settle for being the Spiders. Alex had become Gilly, in spite of his protestations that it was a jessie nickname for someone who aspired to the burly build of a rugby player. But there was no arguing with the accident of his surname. And none of them had a moment’s doubt about the appropriateness of christening the fourth member of their quartet Weird. Because Tom Mackie was weird, make no mistake about it. The tallest in their year, his long gangling limbs even looked like a mutation, matching a personality that delighted in being perverse.

That left Davey, loyal to the cause of the Floyd, steadfastly refusing to accept any nickname from the Bowie canon. For a while, he’d been known halfheartedly as Pink, but from the first time they’d all heard “Shine on, You Crazy Diamond” there had been no further debate; Davey was a crazy diamond, right enough, flashing fire in unpredictable directions, edgy and uncomfortable out of the right setting. Diamond soon became Mondo, and Mondo Davey Kerr had remained through the remaining year of high school and on to university.

Alex shook his head in quiet amazement. Even through the blur of far too much beer, he wondered at the glue that had held the four of them fast all those years. The very thought provoked a warm glow that kept the vicious cold at bay as he tripped over a raised root smothered under the soft blanket of snow. “Bugger,” he grumbled, cannoning into Weird, who gave him a friendly shove that sent Alex sprawling. Flailing to keep his balance, he let his momentum carry him forward and stumbled up the short slope, suddenly exhilarated with the feel of the snow against his flushed skin. As he reached the summit, he hit an unexpected dip that pulled the feet from under him. Alex found himself crashing head over heels to the ground.

His fall was broken by something soft. Alex struggled to sit up, pushing against whatever it was he had landed on. Spluttering snow, he wiped his eyes with his tingling fingers, breathing hard through his nose in a bid to clear it of the freezing melt. He glanced around to see what had cushioned his landing just as the heads of his three companions appeared on the hillside to gloat over his farcical calamity.

Even in the eerie dimness of snow light, he could see that the bulwark against his fall was no botanical feature. The outline of a human form was unmistakable. The heavy white flakes began to melt as soon as they landed, allowing Alex to see it was a woman, the wet tendrils of her dark hair spread against the snow in Medusa locks. Her skirt was pushed up to her waist, her knee-length black boots looking all the more incongruous against her pale legs. Strange dark patches stained her flesh and the pale blouse that clung to her chest. Alex stared uncomprehendingly for a long moment, then he looked at his hands and saw the same darkness contaminating his own skin.

Blood. The realization dawned at the same instant that the snow in his ears melted and allowed him to hear the faint but stertorous wheeze of her breath.


Copyright 2003 by Val McDermid
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 17 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 17 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2011

    The best book ever that everyone should read

    I've read the whole which was really good i never would have thought that it would have ended like it did it was fantastic book that I couldn't put down at all Distant Echo is one of the geatest books ever.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 9, 2010

    Cold Case UK style

    This was my first Val McDermid book. I've been a big fan of the BBC's Wire in the Blood series, so I was looking forward to reading her books. I opted for a stand-alone novel, rather than one of her Tony Hill works.

    Overall, I was pleased with this work. The characters are interesting and there's a real tension that builds convincingly. I want go into details, but you cared enough about the characters that when events unfold you're whispering to yourself, "please, not him." The story is basically told in two parts. The original murder and investigation, and then a big jump to present day. I thought there would be more back and forth between the time periods, but I'm not sure I would say that is a critique.

    Once I got into the book, it was a quick and enjoyable read. Less gore than in Wire in the Blood, and more psychological suspense and character drama. Worth picking up if you're a fan of British mystery writers and don't want to commit to a series. She is an exceptional writer. You're in the hands of a true professional

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 26, 2005

    An utter disapointment

    Almost unreadable. You keep waiting for something to happen and it never does. The dialogue is completely unbelievable. No one talks or thinks like this. I have two teenage boys and these characters are bogus and totally unrealistic. I put it down after 175 pages. Don't bother.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2005

    The best McDermid by far

    So I bought this book out of the sheer fact that I own all of her other books and I adore her style of writing. I didn't even bother reading the back. When I read it, I about died. This book weaves together the tale of four boys skillfully. The Distant Echo grabs hold of its reader and doesn't let go from page one!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 19, 2004

    Really Good

    This book was really good. It latches onto you from the start and doesn't let go (although I will admit the first part was better than the second part). McDermid really knows how to write a good mystery. Trust me; the end will surprise you.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 24, 2003

    Great storytelling

    In 1978 St. Andrews, Scotland, four intoxicated students stumble home at four in the morning while snow heavily falls. However, they sober up rather quickly when they stumble over the raped and murdered body of Rosie Duff. Though everyone especially the victim¿s siblings believe that the drunken male quartet killed her, no proof exists and thus no one is charged with the homicide.<P> Twenty-five years later, forensic science has advanced to the point that the Scottish police reconsider this cold case. Instead of rejoicing that perhaps Rosie¿s killer is identified, the reopening of the investigation sets off someone seeking revenge against the four former students, who remain haunted by that deadly discovery. Two of them, Sigmund Malkewicz and Davy Kerr, suddenly die in what look like accidents, but their deaths sends a shiver up the spines of the surviving pair. Alex Gilbey and Tom Mackie become determined to learn the truth about the murder a quarter of a century ago and the two killings of their friends because they fear they are next. On the other hand, Assistant Chief Constable James Lawson wants them to stay out while he tries to solve the murder as homage to his former superior, Detective Investigator Barney Maclennan, who died during the 1978 investigation. <P> Part one takes place in 1978 is brilliantly designed so that the audience wonders who killed Rosie. Part Two occurs in 2003 is well written with an intriguing and plausible ending. The contrasting police procedural story lines enable the audience to see how far forensics has come in a relative short period while entertaining the audience with a strong two in one novel that ties nicely together.<P> Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 5, 2013

    VAL DOES IT AGAIN

    I KEEP WAITING FOR HER BOOKS TO BECOME TOO MUCH ALIKE AS SO MANY DO, BUT THIS ONE KEPT THE STANDARD UP.
    I DEFINITELY RECCOMEND IT

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  • Posted April 20, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Outstanding and Fast Paced

    This was an outstanding book. Everything about the book was great: characters, plot, writing style, etc. This was my first Val McDermid book and I look forward to reading more of her books.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 1, 2004

    HIGHLY LISTENABLE ENTERTAINMENT

    Following on the heels of her acclaimed mystery 'A Place of Execution' British writer Val McDermid offers an equally compelling story based on a 25-year-old unsolved murder. Talented voice performer Gerard Doyle gives an outstanding reading of this tale, spicing it with proper amounts of chill and suspense. A quarter of a century ago four male students, much the worse for drink, staggered toward home through snowy Scotland. They are friends and all enrolled at St. Andrews School. Their nocturnal journey is interrupted by the discovery of a young woman's body - Rosie Duff has been raped, stabbed and left for dead. Of course, the prime suspects are the four young men. Rosie's family is convinced of their guilt, still no one is charged for her murder. Seque ahead to the present day when the use of DNA evidence enables law enforcement officials to solve decades old crimes. However, there's more than crime solving going on here as one of the original foursome dies in a house fire. Soon, a second loses his life in what looks like a botched burglary. The remaining pair know they must solve the cold-case before they are also killed. For mystery fans 'The Distant Echo' is highly listenable entertainment.

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    Posted November 14, 2010

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    Posted June 22, 2010

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    Posted January 10, 2011

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    Posted January 31, 2013

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