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Caedmon's Song

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Caedmon's Song

Caedmon's Song
Author Peter Robinson
Country Canada
Language English
Genre Crime novel
Publisher Viking Press
1990
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 256 pp (first edition, hardback)
ISBN ISBN 0-670-83304-5 (first edition, hardback)
OCLC 24718391

Caedmon's Song is a novel written by Canadian crime writer Peter Robinson in 1990. Also known in the United States and Canada as The First Cut, the novel was Robinson's first novel not to feature Inspector Alan Banks. Although seemingly unreleated to the Banks' novel series, Caedmon's Song is revisited in Robinson's Inspector Alan Banks novel Friend of the Devil, wherein the story is brought together with that from an earlier Banks novel, Aftermath, published in 1999 and 2007 respectively.

Contents

  • Plot 1
  • Analysis 2
    • Characters 2.1
    • Structure 2.2
    • Setting 2.3

Plot

One warm June night, a university student called Kirsten is viciously attacked in a park by a serial killer. He is interrupted, and Kirsten survives, but in a severe physically and psychologically damaged state. As the killer continues, leaving a trail of mutilated corpses, Kirsten confronts her memories and becomes convinced not only that she can, but that she must remember what happened. Through fragments of nightmares, the details slowly reveal themselves. Interwoven with Kirsten's story is that of Martha Browne, a woman who arrives in the Yorkshire coastal town of Whitby with a sense of mission. Finally, the two strands are woven together and united in a startling, chilling conclusion.

Analysis

Characters

Kirsten lives in an apartment with her best friend Sarah on the campus of an unnamed university. Her friends are Hugo, Damon and Galen; Galen is her boyfriend. After the attack, she tries to remember details about the assault with the help of psychiatrist Dr. Laura Henderson. During this time she lives at home with their parents in Brierley Coombe, even though relations are strained. The police, represented by Detective Superintendent Elswick and his assistant Detective Sergeant Haywood, question her about the case, but Kirsten tries to solve it on her own. She adopts the alias Martha Browne and kills Jack Grimley, whom she later realizes is innocent. Later she again changes her name and becomes Susan Bridehead. With this alias, she assaults and places Keith McLaren into a coma, and finally kills her assailant Greg Eastcote.

Structure

The novel is divided into forty-seven chapters, alternating between two story lines, one devoted to Kirsten and the other Martha and Susan. If all the chapters were put in chronological order, a logical course of action would be the result. However, the author decided to entwine both strands to emphasize the connection between the two main characters. The effect of this stylistic device is that the alternating chapters enlighten each other. The reader slowly gets the pieces of information he needs to understand the story. Just as Kirsten herself discovers what happened to her. The story is revealed bit by bit, and therefore it is thrilling until the end.

Setting

The two most important locations of the story are Bath and Whitby. Bath is described as a rather peaceful and idyllic place for wealthy people. Conversely,

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