When a skeleton with a bullet hole in its head is found in a turret on top of an old building about to be demolished, Karen Pirie, Head of Cold Cases and her partner, Jason Murray, aka The Mint start investigating. Through various forensic means, it is determined that the murder took place 7 to 8 years previously and through dental work, it was determined that the man had been to the Eastern bloc countries.
Simultaneously, there’s a new boss at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. War criminals are getting murdered before they can stand trial and he wants to know who the mole is. Alan Macanespie and Theo Proctor are assigned the task.
Both of these roads are leading to Ditimar Petrovic, a Croatian general and war hero and former live-in lover to Maggie Blake, a renowned professor of geopolitics with a specialty in the Serbo-Croatian war.
Pirie is persistent in her pursuit of the killer. Macanespie, thought of as a slacker, takes a new interest in finding his mole (and thus saving his career) and Maggie, who thought her lover went back to his homeland, is staggered by notice of his death.
In The Skeleton Road McDermid jumps back and forth between current day and Maggie’s memoir of her days in Croatia, meeting Petrovic, falling in love, the atrocities of war. One of those atrocities was the senseless murder of a dozen innocent children. Unfortunately, if you’re at all informed of the news today, you realize that things have not changed in the decades since the Serbo-Croatian war. The senseless murder of innocent children in the name of war continues as I write this.
The Skeleton Road is a readable book. It is more cerebral than action packed. I tend to get lost when it comes to Eastern bloc countries, so while it plays a part in the book, my lack of knowledge of the area and era did not hinder my enjoyment. As I mentioned, the similarities to today’s current events is chilling.
I will say that about two thirds of the way through the book, I did guess who-dun-it, which is unusual for me.
This is the second book in the Karen Pirie series, the first being A Darker Domain which was published in 2006. My not reading the first book did not hinder my reading pleasure. However, I will tell you that events at the end of the book were unnecessary, unless McDermid has something in mind for a future series book. While I don’t usually give Star ratings, in this case I’ll give The Distant Echo 4 stars and The Skeleton Road 3 1/2 stars.