This review will also be posted to Amazon US & UK and Goodreads and twittered about a lot.
This is the fourth novel featuring DCI Karen Pirie.
Couldn’t wait to read this one! A really absorbing and gripping book that I could hardly put down.
The book begins with a fatal car accident involving joyriders, where the sole young survivor has a routine blood test that reveals his DNA has a familial link to a rape and murder in Glasgow that happened twenty years ago before he was born.
The Historic Cases Unit team consisting of DCI Karen Pirie and DC Jason “Mint” Murray have the complicated task of trying to trace the family member responsible for the crime. The case appears to be straightforward at first but turns out to be quite a complex and time consuming puzzle. There is pressure from the senior officer she calls “Macaroon” who would really like to see Karen Pirie fail but the fact that her earlier successes have been much lauded by the media makes his efforts to undermine her that much harder.
Meanwhile, another case involving a suicide that may be murder and another DNA puzzle to unravel ends up unofficially at first as a case to be investigated by the Historic Crimes Unit.
There are a lot of different paths and various twists throughout the book that I didn’t see coming but kept me turning the pages frantically until the very end.
During the investigation of the two cases, Karen, still grieving from the loss of her partner Phil and unable to sleep, walks through the old parts of Edinburgh at night, much to the dismay of her friends who worry. The people she meets on those nights add an interesting, poignant and current story into the narrative, but one encounter nearly costs her her life.
I warmed to Karen Pirie in The Skeleton Road but in this book I really liked her a lot more. The dynamics between the two officers in the unit are captured perfectly. Jason can be a total plank at times and has an alarming naivety but works steadily alongside his senior officer while they sort through the increasing pile of evidence and can at times offer intelligent insights into cases under investigation. Karen Pirie is training him up the hard way and doesn’t hold back when he screws up but does recognise and appreciate his skills plus they both miss Phil and that shared grief eventually solidifies the bond they have built up.
Jason is also a perfect foil for Karen Pirie’s sharp dark humour. I always enjoy the glimpses of dark Scottish humour throughout Val McDermid’s books and her way with words has me laughing out loud, or giggling quietly at times, despite the dark subject matter. Well I am a retired nurse and black humour kept most of us sane!
As someone who is partial to the odd gin and tonic, I’ve learned from this book that there are a lot of different varieties so have kept notes. 🙂
With thanks to the publishers and NetGalley for my review copy.
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To Purchase at Waterstones