The Distant Echo Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of The Distant Echo

St. Martin's, Oct 2003, 24.95, 404 pp.
ISBN: 0312301995

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.
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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.

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.

Harriet Klausner

The review of this Book prepared by Harriet Klausner

Chapter Analysis of The Distant Echo

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Plot & Themes

Composition of Book descript. of violence and chases 10%Planning/preparing, gather info, debate puzzles/motives 40%Feelings, relationships, character bio/development 30%How society works & physical descript. (people, objects, places) 20% Tone of story    -   suspenseful (sophisticated fear) How difficult to spot villain?    -   Very difficult--no foreshadowing/clues Time/era of story:    -   2000+ (Present) What % of story relates directly to the mystery, not the subplot?    -   70% Misc. Murder Plotlets    -   Proving innocence of very obvious suspect Kind of investigator    -   police procedural, British Kid or adult book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book Crime Thriller    -   Yes Murder Mystery (killer unknown)    -   Yes

Main Character

Gender    -   Male Profession/status:    -   police/lawman Ethnicity/Race    -   British


Europe    -   Yes European country:    -   England/UK

Writing Style

Accounts of torture and death?    -   generic/vague references to death/punishment Amount of dialog    -   significantly more dialog than descript

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Val McDermid Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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