When you are young,you look at life with optimism and if you add ambition to it then that is a potent mix.For young police inspector George Bennet when he was presented with the case of missing teenager Alison Carter from the remote village of Scardale,he was enthusiastic and wanted to prove his worth.But as days rolled by with no trace of Alison,the initial enthusiasm starts to evaporate and the case starts to take a heavy toll on him.His wife is pregnant and his concern for the unborn child and Alison make him a person on the edge until the fierce determination to solve the case is what prompting him to move forward.He feels that the villagers instead of helping him in this quest are trying to shield someone among them.But by some lucky break emanating from the villagers itself,Bennet is able to zoom on the person responsible for the disappearance of Alison.Bennet is relieved,but is it really the end?.As one can read in this excellent novel,there is a deep mystery behind the disappearance of Alison where even the good hearted Bennet it seems have something to hide.A journalist who wants to write a book on this case is the one who untangles this web and brings out the secrets buried years ago at the village of Scardale.
This is one novel,where I confess that I find it difficult to put down once I started.The suspense is really well built and keeps you on the edge in the anticipation of what is going to happen next.You start sympathizing with the character of Bennet,the pains he go through to solve this tough case and you root for him to win.But then again you realize that life is not fair and what looks obvious need not always be so. Val Mcdermid has been able to paint the remote village of Scardale of 60's and the colorful characters of that village with a type of realism which only novelists with eye for detail and keen observation about human conditions can convincingly pull off.We realise that when we are introduced to the various characters in the village,there is a sense of camaraderie among them and general distrust towards outsiders.You are introduced to grandmother Lomas who turns out to be a mysterious character who holds some aces in this puzzle.As Bennet digs deeper,Ma Lomas's extensive knowledge about the terrain unearth some important clues which help him in getting closer to solving this intriguing puzzle.
This novel is considered one of the best among Val Mcdermid books.It has been nominated for Edgar award and has won several mystery awards.Even though on hindsight you may feel that story is little bit implausible,still what trumps is that this novel has got all ingredients in right mix that makes an excellent suspense/mystery novel.The pace never drops,the writing even though can't be termed as of literary quality,never wavers and maintain a consistent standard enough to maintain the pace,there is depth in characterization,the inner turmoils,emotional outbursts of the characters caught up in a tragedy well brought out by the writer.
My Rating: EXCELLENT