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Absolution: A Novel of Suspense Hardcover – November 6, 2007

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Pegasus Books (November 6, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933648414
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933648415
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,158,749 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Scottish author Ramsay's atmospheric and melancholic novel is a solid but unremarkable debut. Deeply flawed Glaswegian police constable Alan McAlpine is obsessed with an unsolved case more than two decades old, involving an acid attack on a young pregnant woman who committed suicide shortly after giving birth. As McAlpine investigates a bizarre series of Crucifixion murders, in which all the victims have been disemboweled and laid out with arms spread and feet crossed at the ankle, he begins to suspect that this killer is somehow tied to the mystery of his blonde angel. The pacing is sluggish, but Ramsay manages to paint a vivid picture of rain-lashed Glasgow. The stark late autumn landscape is a fitting backdrop to the brutal murders as well as McAlpine's dark epiphanies. Ramsay has tremendous potential, but there needs to be more to McAlpine than formulaic angst if he's to succeed as a series protagonist. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Ramsay handles her characters with aplomb, the dialogue crackles and the search for the killer has surprising twists and turns Observer Many shivers in store for readers, followed by a shattering climax The Times Brilliant in twisting the tension tauter with each page Guardian --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

I like this set of characters.
Amazon Customer
Readers along with the two DS will wonder whether Alan has gone over the edge or found a real connection; which premise makes this a deep read.
Harriet Klausner
Although the book runs to 400 pages, the story ends incomplete and unsatisfying.
Charles E. Dawson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
"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.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Charles E. Dawson on May 1, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Somewhere in Mark Twain's short stories, there is a character with a horsewhip. This character should be resurrected and introduced to Ms. Ramsay's editor. This is a story badly in need of a rewrite. The Publisher's Weekly review hits the nail on the head in calling it "unremarkable". And when it refers to the McAlpine character as a series protagonist, it also tips its hand - the reviewer gave up on the book and did not read it to its conclusion. So will many readers, I think.

The book fails on a number of fronts. Clearly intended to piggy-back on the success of Ian Rankin's Rebus novels which are set in Edinburgh, Ms. Ramsay does not get past the mimicry in style and into a territory of her own. She flounders. In the first half of the book she creates some interesting plot lines and does a creditable job in developing several interesting characters. But she is unable to carry this forward. The second half of the novel stumbles badly, she wrecks most of her characters and takes the book to a poor and mostly unbelievable ending.

Although the book runs to 400 pages, the story ends incomplete and unsatisfying. The first half of the book promises more than the author can deliver. The pains taken in developing the start of the tale are wasted in her rush to cram in everything else she has planned for the story. Her editor should have let her run the tale to six or seven hundred pages like an Elizabeth George novel, or he should have insisted on better discipline in tightening the story and its direction.

Finally, while the novel (and some of its reviewers) claim that it offers the color and flavor of Glasgow, I found this lacking. The story really could have been anywhere. Rain and street names do not make a city.
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Format: Hardcover
First Sentence: White.

In 1984, PC Alan McAlpine, working out of Partickhill station, was assigned to stand guard over a young woman who had been attacked with acid. McAlpine becomes obsessed with the young woman and devastated when she commits suicide.

Now in 2006, is a Detective Chief Inspector and back at Partickill. He and his team are faced with a killer who chloroforms woman, lays them out as though crucified and eviscerates them. McAlpine's past obsession becomes linked with his current case.

I had seriously mixed feelings about this book. The writing was strong and I enjoyed the book being set in Glasgow, which is somewhat different.

I liked McAlpine, his wife Helena and some of his fellow detectives. But as I think about it, I was put off by the feeling that huge pieces of information relating to the characters was missing and that there was very little actual character development.

The story kept me turning the pages in spite of the fact that I had identified both the killer and the motive very soon into the book. But it was the fact that I hated the ending that really clinched my rating. It felt as though it were a cheat.

So while the book held me for a straight-through read, I don't know that I shall read another by Ms. Ramsey.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have fallen in love with Caro Ramsay's books. Whilst she has not yet developed the depth of La Plante or McDermid, her books are well written with a plot complex enough that you haven't figured out 'who did it' by the end of chapter 3. And the characters are fabulous. Like great British crime television, the women are tough, fallible and rough around the edges and the men have the kind of vulnerability that made us love Tony Hill and Rebus. Caro has three books to date and each one is fabulous. Absolution is the first and it is easy to identify with our main protagonists; Alan McAlpine, who fell in love with a faceless woman at a vulnerable time in his life. Colin Anderson, trapped between career and family and Costello, who pushes the boundaries, asks the questions and who isn't afraid to call it like it is. Loyal to each other, to a fault, they pit themselves against a killer who could literally be anyone.

If you enjoy gritty British crime fiction, where the 'heroes' smoke, drink and stuff up their lives on a regular basis, then you will enjoy this novel. You will feel the cold of a Scottish winter and the frustration of a small, under resourced team trying to solve something far too big with far too little. A great read!
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