Jeff Jensen
October 24, 2003 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Distant Echo

Current Status
In Season
Val McDermid
Mystery and Thriller, Fiction

We gave it a B

Scottish crime scribe McDermid’s latest is an absorbing new addition to the growing childhood-friends-are-party-to-a-murder-and-haunted-by-it-forever genre. Four tight-knit lads happen upon a bloody corpse one boozy, snowy night. They become suspects; they’re never charged, but never cleared, either. And 25 years later, someone seeks revenge. ”Echo”’s first third grippingly tracks the psyche-shaping consequences of the crime among a host of characters. But what begins as a literary thriller — an English ”Mystic River” — settles into a mere whodunit, well-mounted but short on psychological richness and stuck with a disappointing denouement. McDermid plays a crafty hand of poker, but her final card will leave you thumbing through the deck, wondering if she cheated.

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