I was frustrated that this book was less than what it could have been. It seems Val was trying to cover too many themes and to introduce her new character instead of concentrating on the way the story flowed. Where suspense should have built the story drags and fades away like an echo.
Val has written this book mainly from the point of view of the young university student who discovers a dead woman and who with his mates become suspects. The killer is not found so the suspicion follows them changing their lives. Then when the case is reopened as a cold case and two of the group are murdered. There is no choice but for the students to find the real killer or be killed. The essence of a great story.
The point of view as a device is interesting and often used by Hitchcock. Val shifts back to police procedural to set up for the cold case. This is mainly to introduce Detective Karen Pirie. Perhaps this is the distant echo but mainly it’s because the students don’t have any access to that pert of the story making it hard to reveal at least two of the themes which involve the police themselves.
What is obvious is that the original detectives fail in the basics. The original detective cannot move on from his feeling that the students are the guilty parties. Ironically he dies saving one of the students trying to commit suicide because of the guilt engendered by his investigation. What he misses isn’t obvious but is noticeable. Other reviewers have expressed the same view.
Starting with the prologue Val tries to divert attention to the person bent on revenge who is killing the students. But there is something missing from this thread. We find out what later in the story at the end.
Police corruption overlaying poor investigation is a Val trademark. How it figures in this story is fascinating.
Thus we have an interesting story with various threads that Val doesn’t quite get right. It is still a good book and worth reading.