Beautifully crafted, hooks the reader and doesn’t let go
I’ve not read any of Val McDermid’s books before, and tried this on a strong recommendation from another reviewer My goodness this is an satisfying and absorbing read. I must say, that dealing as it does with the disappearance of a child, the possibility of unpleasantly graphic detail was something which distressed me. Personally, I really do not like the tendency to the graphic gore and splatter fest which seems to be the lot of much modern crime fiction.
McDermid is so much better than that. She uses the brilliant device of character reaction in order to avoid the spelling out of detail which often seems done for reasons of titillation. So, there is a point in the book where a less crafted writer might have felt the need to be hugely explicit. McDermid describes the effect of revelation on her central investigating detectives. We too experience shock and horror – probably more so, through approaching the story through the eyes of her central characters.
This is a beautifully constructed work. There is the detailing of events following the disappearance of young Alison Carter, which takes place against the background of ‘real’ disappeared children at that time – the Moors Murders. We get beautifully drawn character, both the police team themselves, and the isolated Derbyshire Peaks farming community the missing child came from. We get a cracking, detailed, believable story of investigation. And we get more – some 30 years later, a journalist who came from a similar background, and was a child of the same age as Alison Carter, and who grew up in the shadow of the Moors Murders, decides to write a book about the investigation. So we get a new cast of character, a new period of time, and start to look again at the past, through the eyes of the present, which invariably gives a different perspective.
I liked the restraint in this approach, and the layering of different times.