Archive for the ‘Val McDermid’ Category

DCI Karen Pirie is still suffering from the recent lost of her policeman husband, Phil. She’s taken to late night long walks in the hopes that they would tire her out enough to enable her to fall asleep. It is on one of these walks that she meets of group of Syrian refugees warming their hands over a barrel with fire.


When Ross Garvie overturns his stolen Range Rover, killing his three mates and putting himself in a coma, his DNA comes up with a ‘familial match’ to the 20 year old unsolved brutal rape and murder of Tina McDonald. Unfortunately, there are hindrances to DCI Pirie pursuing the owner of the original DNA, one of which being Ross’ comatose condition.

Gabriel Abbott, a man who has ‘issues’ is found dead on a park bench, a bullet in his head and the murder weapon in his hand. While the angle he would have had to use in order to kill himself is awkward, after some investigation the death is ruled a suicide. Although, not her case, Pirie can’t get the idea out of her head that Gabriel’s death is somehow related to the death of his mother, over 20 years earlier, when the small plane she was flying in blew up, disintegrating it and the three other passengers.

Out of Bounds, this third Karen Pirie outing (I didn’t know there were two others) is an arresting read (pun intended). Pirie and her one assistant, Jason “the Mint” Murray, tackle complex issues regarding dissemination of DNA information, try to accumulate more than circumstantial evidence in their investigations, and go against their fellow police officers and her superior officer in order to get at the truth. The ensemble cast of characters, although typical (the rogue Pirie, the inept Noble, the antagonistic Chief Superintendent Lees (aka the Macaroon) and the faithful sidekick “the Mint”) keep the story moving forward nicely.

All in all, Out of Bounds is a good read and, while I may not go back and read the first two books in the series, I will continue reading the series as more books are published.

P.S. This book stands nicely on its own.


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Former police officer Carol Jordan is pulled over for drunk driving, despite being on a deserted country road, less than a mile from her house. Having no one else to bail her out, she calls Tony Hill, psychologist, friend, once very close friend. Driving her home, he decides an intervention is needed, as many of Jordan’s former colleagues are concerned about her drinking. He indicates that he’s staying the night, and to make sure she doesn’t take another drink, he empties her cabinets without even asking.

Simultaneous to this incident, John Brandon and several other high ranking officials have decided that an overriding Murder Investigating Team is needed, covering several precincts which don’t have much expertise in investigating murders. And who better to lead the charge than Jordan. However, that means doing something about her drunk driving arrest. Jordan’s choice is essentially accept the new position, come out of retirement and get her arrest expunged or face the consequences of losing her license. What choices is there, really?SplinterTheSilence

Jordan recruits her select team, many of whom have worked for her before, such as Stacey Chen (master at the computer), Paula McIntyre (interviewer extraordinaire) and Tony. She and Tony also decide the team needs something to whet their teeth and suggests they look at the recent apparent suicide of an outspoken feminist who died of carbon monoxide poisoning in her garage. Beside her was a book a poetry. Something just doesn’t feel right to Tony and Carol has learned to trust Tony’s instincts.

Despite the fact that this is an ongoing series and I hadn’t read any of the previous books, Splinter the Silence was totally enjoyable. You know that I like mysteries where the characters have a life and tend to grow over the course of the series and you can feel that in Splinter the Silence.

There’s certainly death in this book but it’s not gruesome and it’s not the point of the story, which is catching the killer. And of course in this day and age, computers are a main mechanism in identifying and locating people. The ending is both happy and sad (hey, that’s life). There are enough twists and turns to satisfy all mystery readers.

I like Val McDermid’s books and Splinter the Silence is no exception.


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When a skeleton with a bullet hole in its head is found in a turret SkeletonRoadon 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.

TheDistantEchoThe only other Val McDermid book I read was The Distant Echo and the similarity in covers is eerie. None of her other book covers are remotely similar.

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.

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