George Bennett is a police inspector assigned to the disappearance of Alison Carter, a young girl living in the community of Scardale. Bennett's first hurdle to overcome is the closed nature of the community. No one trusts outsiders, and especially not police outsiders, so no one is willing to talk. Little by little George breaks down the barriers, determined to solve the mystery of Alison's disappearance, even though he knows he's solving the mystery of her death.
Val McDermid's A PLACE OF EXECUTION is a literary mind game. The elaborate layers of mystery and suspense held me captive throughout the entire audiobook. McDermid shrouds the story in an eerie darkness that acts much the way music does in a suspenseful movie.
McDermid chose to tell the story as a flashback which also helped to build the suspense. Listening to the book on audio was an especially wonderful treat as some of the flashback wasn't readily discernible as such. I believe that enhanced the tension of the plot even further.
Strong social issues contribute to the complexity as well. Bennett and his partner, Tommy Clough, contemplate their feelings on capital punishment and the circumstances in which they'd condone its use. Scardale is lorded over by Philip Hawkin, who for all intents and purposes, owns the people of Scardale. McDermid also sneaks in the effects of wrongly accusing individuals in an investigation and the responsibility for the fallout.
The characters inhabiting A PLACE OF EXECUTION are all suspect in the investigation. The little town is overflowing with secrets and deception. The beguilement defines them all, leaving the plot even more mysterious.
The shade of gray in this novel far outweigh the black and white; in the issues of the novel as well as the characters. McDermid will leave you wondering if you really know all you THINK you know.
A PLACE OF EXECUTION is an amazing psychological thriller. The Brilliance audiobook narrated by Paddy Glynn does an excellent job of creating the mysterious atmosphere, building the suspense, interpreting the characters. There's not a lot of distinction between characters, with the possible exception of the old woman, Ma Lomas. That combined with the complexity of the novel requires good attention while listening to this book, but the novel itself draws your attention in without any other factors playing a part. I was a little surprised that Brilliance opted for a woman to narrate since the bulk of the book is centered around the male George Bennett. It's a moot point in the whole scheme of the recording. This is most certainly an audiobook worth listening to. Will make for great entertainment on a long drive or air plane flight.
A PLACE OF EXECUTION was published in the United States by Minotaur (ISBN: 978-0-312-26632-5) and on audio by Brilliance Audio (ISBN: 978-1-593-35294-3).