ABSOLUTION – Caro Ramsay

Glasgow, 1984

Police Cadet Alan McAlpine has just returned to duty at Partickhill Station after the death of his brother who, while serving with the Customs Service, drowns when he tries to save a man who fell from a boat that has been rammed.  To ease the twenty year-old back into the service, he is assigned to protect a young woman who is dying, her body so damaged after an attack with acid, there is no hope for her recovery.  The police know where she lived, but there is nothing there that gives them any information about who she is.  There is just a picture of a beautiful woman, the woman as she was before the attack.  In the last stages of pregnancy at the time of the attack, she has given birth to a healthy daughter, a baby she can neither see nor hold.  McAlpine breaks the rules; instead of staying in the corridor outside her door, he spends time talking to her, telling her about his brother, telling her about his life.  He cannot know, because she cannot speak, that she has been desperate for someone to speak to her, to acknowledge that even in the state she is in, she is alive and needs human contact.

Alan realizes that she is aware of him and gradually they work out a system of communication: a move of her thumb is no, a move of her finger is yes.  Alan names her Anastasia after the woman who claimed to be the daughter of the last Czar.  He calls her Anna.  Suddenly, he is removed from his post and just as suddenly she dies. For Alan, it is too late; he has fallen in love with a woman about whom he knew nothing and he will love her all the days of his life.

Glasgow, 2006

Detective Chief Inspector Alan McAlpine returns to Partickhill Station for the first time in twenty-two years to take over the investigation into the deaths of women who appear to be the victims of a serial killer.  They have been found with their arms outstretched and their feet crossed at the ankles.  The press has dubbed the man “the Crucifixion Killer”.  McAlpine begins the slow process of getting to know his new team and learning what little information there is about the victims.  There seems to be nothing that connects them until McAlpine starts to focus on Sean McTiernan who has worked in places where he could have met the dead women.  McTiernan has just been released from jail after serving a sentence for culpable homicide; he killed a man who had attacked him first.

McAlpine has a good reputation as an investigator.  He is married to the beautiful and successful Helena Farrell, the owner of a respected art gallery.  On the surface he has everything a man would want but there is still, always, Anna.   As the case progresses, the team finds themselves working against their leader who seems to be increasingly haunted by the acid attack 20 years before.  Alan has become possessed by the image of a younger woman, a woman who is the ghost of Anna, pulling him further from the reality of his life. And as Alan is becoming increasingly lost, the team is becoming increasingly sure of the identity of their killer.

It isn’t particularly difficult for the reader to determine the identity of the killer.  But it is as the story moves toward its resolution that the reader is satisfied that all the threads will come together to a reasonable conclusion.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to ABSOLUTION – Caro Ramsay

  1. This sounds like a beautifully tragic plot. But is it well-written? Your post certainly is!


  2. Beth says:

    It is a tragic story because McAlpine is married to a beautiful, creative woman who knows that there was a woman in his life he can’t get over, doesn’t want to get over. He is so caught up in Anna, a fantasy he created from a picture and a few movements of her fingers, that he sacrifices reality to a woman who has been dead for over twenty years.

    It is also a pretty good mystery.

    I think it is well-written. If I start a book that I don’t like or that isn’t well-written by whatever extremely subjective rules I have, I don’t finish it. This frees me from the onus of writing a negative review because what is more subjective that one’s reading habits? If I’ve reviewed it, it means I liked it enough to finish it. If Caro Ramsay had more books available in the US, I would read them.

    I am pleased that you found the review well-written; I hope they are because the reviews are often the first time someone learns of a writer who doesn’t get the support of the major publications and publishers.

  3. Wow. Adding to my list for sure. Thanks for the lovely review!

    • Beth says:

      You’re welcome, Karen.

      I discovered Caro Ramsay when she was a guest poster on the blog Murder Is Everywhere (www.murderiseverywhere.blogspot.com). The blog is a collaboration of some of my favorite writers: Timothy Hallinan, Leighton Gage, Cara Black, Yrsa Sigurdardottir (who has just been nominated for a Shamus award), Michael Stanley (actually Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip) and Dan Waddell. Each posts once a week and Saturdays are left open for guest bloggers.

      Unfortunately, Caro Ramsay has one book available for the Kindle (I don’t have one) and another only available in Britain.


  4. Pingback: AUTHORS N – R | MURDER by TYPE

  5. Pingback: THE FOURTH WATCHER – Timothy Hallinan | MURDER by TYPE

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s