Category: Val McDermid

Out of Bounds by Val McDermid


Synopsis: ‘There were a lot of things that ran in families, but murder wasn’t one of them . . .’

When a teenage joyrider crashes a stolen car, a routine DNA test could be the key to unlocking the mystery of a twenty-year-old murder inquiry. Detective Chief Inspector Karen Pirie is an expert at solving the unsolvable. With each cold case closed, justice is served. So, finding the answer should be straightforward, but it’s as twisted as the DNA helix itself.

Meanwhile, Karen finds herself irresistibly drawn to another case, one that she has no business investigating. And as she pieces together decades-old evidence, Karen discovers the most dangerous kind of secrets. Secrets that someone is willing to kill for . . .

Kat’s Rating: 5/5 

*If you plan to read this series from book 1, please do not read the review as it will inevitably contain spoilers*

Kat’s Review: I realised late that this was part of the Karen Pirie series which I have only read one book of (book 3) but for people starting off at this point it makes no difference as there is enough background history with Karen that you don’t miss anything major. The first thing that struck me is how immediately I connected with Karen Pirie, certainly more than I did in book 3. She is working as part of the Historical Crimes Unit alongside her colleague Jason. When a joyriding teenager crashes his car, a routine DNA test shows something linked to a twenty year old case, so Karen and Jason immediately get digging.

In addition to Karen’s current enquiry her sleepless nights are seeing her up and wandering the streets in a bid to make herself tired. She is still struggling to come to terms with the death of her husband and partner Phil. Her late night walks to battle her insomnia leads us to another thread of the story which is just as absorbing as the first. Some of Karen’s friends are involved in the story line and they all added to the depth of this story. Karen also decides to do her own investigation on another case which is nothing to do with her. This has a two-fold effect of allowing her to sink her teeth into a mysterious case involving the death of 4 people in a suspected air plane bombing, as well as annoying her colleague who she doesn’t get along with Assistant Chief Constable Simon Lees . All of these threads combined seem like too much when read aloud, but in reality they have made for an outstanding book which had me thoroughly surrendered to my every  day tasks such as dinner!

Both Karen and Jason plough their all into both cases, which results on Karen putting herself into some precarious positions and although the threads run alongside each other they are easy to distinguish. What is strange about this book is that it’s not terribly fast paced, but it fits the book perfectly. The various threads of the story make for a compelling read, and one that I thoroughly enjoyed. Towards the end when I thought I had it all figured out, turned out I was wrong and when the pieces did fit into place I felt terribly stupid! An outstandingly good read which I would highly recommend.

The Skeleton Road by Val McDermid


Synopsis: When a skeleton is discovered hidden at the top of a crumbling, gothic building in Edinburgh, Detective Chief Inspector Karen Pirie is faced with the unenviable task of identifying the bones. As Karen’s investigation gathers momentum, she is drawn deeper into a dark world of intrigue and betrayal.

Meanwhile, someone is taking the law into their own hands in the name of justice and revenge — but when present resentment collides with secrets of the past, the truth is more shocking than anyone could have imagined . . .

Kat’s Rating: 4/5

Kats’ Review: For some reason I have only read one other Val McDermid book, so I made sure to put this on my to read list. I actually picked this up a couple of months ago but after the first couple of chapters put it back down. Sometimes, I know I’m not in the mood for a book so I go back to it and in this case I’m glad that I did. The story features an introduction where a skeleton is found hidden iside an Edinburgh building. Detective Chief Inspector Karen Pirie is called to the scene and takes the case hoping to draw some sort of a conclusion.

Karen and her colleague Detective Constable Jason Murray were quite likeable and although at times Murray seemed somewhat unpredictable. In addition to this discovery there are a couple of story threads that at first glance are just additional parts to the story that garner no links. IN all honesty I wondered in the early stages of the book why these were here . However, the latter part of the book certainly made up for the slow start because the plot threads start to make a little more sense and all seemingly come together.

I certainly like McDermid’s writing style and I was certainly immersed in the story. For me this particular book was a little bit slow to start with but the second half of the book more than made up for it and it is certainly worth a read. I have heard so many good things about Val’s series featuring Carol Jordan and Tony Hill I really must make a start on catching up on this series.

The Vanishing Point by Val McDermid

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My Review: 5/5

I was very excited when I received an early copy of Val McDermid’s new book from the Publisher, especially since the cover looks so inviting! When you read the synopsis I was even more drawn to the story and hearing that Stephanie Harker travels through security in the USA only to watch her boy get snatched from under her nose had me itching to start.

The first couple of chapters are usually slow burners with a majority of books as the authors go about explaining the characters or settings. None of that happens with this book and it takes a mere few pages for us to meet Stephanie and the five year old Jimmy as they go through security at the airport. With Stephanie watching Jimmy go through the metal detector she follows him and promptly gets stopped. She has no idea that as she gets stopped her life will change forever and she watches in disbelief as somebody in uniform comes along and leads young Jimmy straight out of the door. Within the first couple of chapters I was already at the edge of my seat and reading in disbelief as things go wrong very quickly for Steph.

As Stephanie gets led away be airport security to be questioned the story starts its real journey. It becomes clear pretty quickly that Stephanie is innocent and she is trying to explain to airport authorities that Jimmy has been snatched and they need to act immediately. As the FBI get involved and start to question her Stephanie sits back and tells the story of `how it all began’. We are taken back to the beginning by Stephanie herself as in small bursts we see her history and how she meets Jimmy’s mum who is a famous TV reality star.

As Steph tells the story of how she came to meet Scarlett Higgins things start to make a little more sense. Scarlett is only famous for being famous and with a very strange upbringing she is determined to make a successful career out of her short reality TV stint. She then contracts cancer and begins her battle to keep her public image up, raise her son and generally gets the most out of life. As we fast forward to Steph trying to help the FBI to track down who may have taken Jimmy Higgins, and then back to the time before she had him you begin to question what everybody in Steph’s life is up to, and whether they have an ulterior motive.

The layout and way the story is told certainly rings a few bells and had some ring of truth to it, especially in regards to a famous reality TV star who fought cancer in this country! But that aside, the way the story was told and the fact that each time we revisit Steph during her interview with the FBI you feel the tension rise. I literally couldn’t put this book down. Towards the end I thought I had it all figured out and was irritated to see there was still quite a bit left, what more could there be? Turns out I was completely wrong and the ending threw me sideways, I certainly didn’t see that one coming! All in all a book I couldn’t put down and thoroughly enjoyed. Highly recommended!