Val McDermid is justly famed as a crime writer. This excellent Karen Pirie story concerns a body buried in a peat bog on a croft in 1995 along with two Indian motor bikes from the US that were put there in 1944. Along the way we discover some interesting things about WW II. Then there’s the conversation Karen overhears in the Syrian coffee shop between two middle class ladies. One of the women plans on confronting the loser husband who nearly strangled her. She plans to confront him in the house she’s had to leave. Her friend doesn’t think that’s such a great idea. Karen doesn’t think so either, and says so on her way out. Only there’s something about the woman’s manner that makes Karen think this might be a setup. She puts this to the friend. Nett result: another murder and an attempted one.
With careful research, Karen and her sidekick The Mint follow the clue trail, not aided by the spy foisted on them by Karen’s boss - a career climbing woman who has it in for Karen. As usual, Edinburgh and other Scottish locations are made real to us, as are new developments in forensics. Karen is still working her way through grief after the death of colleague and lover Phil, and is wary of starting anything with the interesting Hamish, who owns the croft ... and a chain of coffee shops. McDermid does everything well: the logic of police work, history, landscape, the realistic psychology of the characters, and it all rolls along utterly absorbingly. A great read when you feel like something good but not too demanding, which is not to damn with faint praise at all. Lesser authors are not half as good.
Broken Ground by McDermid is a wonderful police procedural read. There is high drama within the protagonist's establishment with a boss intent on closing her down, especially when she learns that Karen is about to arrest a member of the Scottish establishment.. On the side, we learn about Karen losing her lover/partner, Phil, and a new man in her work life, Hamish.
much in happening but the reader is kept aware of what DCI Pirie is feeling. Keeping track of the several plots is not necessary , and is not desirable if confusion is to be avoided. A good idea to read in one or two sittings to avoid confusion.
I have just finished book 5, having started from #1, in the Karen Pirie series. I found them all very hard to put down, as they were very well researched, as well authentic. I'm hoping there will be a follow up very shortly.