Posts Tagged ‘police procedural’


Author: Val McDermid

Published 25 August 2016
Reviewed: 31 August 2016

5 out of 5 stars
Copy supplied by Little, Brown Book Group in return for an honest review



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 . . .

My Thoughts & Review:

Out of Bounds is the 30th novel written by Val McDermid, yes, 30th and despite being an accomplished author with an impressive back catalogue, the writing in this is as fresh as it was back when I was knee high to a grasshopper in the late 1980s.  Having discovered McDermid’s books in my teenage years (thanks to my parent’s extensive book collection), I have been an avid fan ever since and it’s nice to see the master continue writing phenomenal books.

Even though this is the  second book to feature DCI Karen Pirie of Police Scotland’s Historical Crime Unit, it is possible to read this as a standalone, enough detail is given to understand the character and her back story.

After the loss of her partner and colleague Phil, Karen Pirie returns to work and has lost none of her curiosity or abilities,  but sleep evades her.  And just when she needs it most, the distraction of a case comes at the right time.
In Dundee some joyriders cause a tragic accident which reveals new evidence by way of routine blood tests on the drunk driver, evidence that could help with a 20 year old cold case from Glasgow.  Whilst the evidence turns out not to be the case breaker she’d have hoped, she and Jason ‘The Mint’  Murray  investigate in their own unconventional way. During the investigations  Karen’s curiosity is piqued by another case, the death of a man named Gabriel Abbot – a current case that is out of her remit and one she should be nowhere near, but Karen isn’t about to be put off by such a slight technicality.

Karen Pirie is an exceptionally well created character, fiesty, strong and incredibly intelligent.  She picks fights that she knows she will win, especially with her boss.  The way in which  McDermid writes Karen’s grief seems to seep from the pages so that the reader can almost feel it, her actions and thoughts whilst she struggles to adjust to life without Phil are very real.
Jason ‘The Mint’ Murray is a character that the reader cannot fail to like, the partnership between Murray and Pirie is unconventional but it works.  He is her opposite in so many ways but he has a heart of gold.

The plot is clever and complex, whilst not as action packed as some of her previous books, this novel still packs a fair punch.  The slow build up works really well in this, each time Karen (and the reader) have an idea what’s happening, McDermid quickly throws in a well timed twist and it’s back to square one.
The Scottish pop culture and expressions added an authenticity to the writing and were as always a joy to to read.

A very original police procedural, which is nice as it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find stories that are different to others but this one breaks the mould.

You can buy a copy of  Out of Bounds here.

About the  Author

Author Image & Information via http://www.valmcdermid.com/

Val comes from Kirkcaldy, Fife, and read English at St Hilda’s College, Oxford (where she is now an Honorary Fellow). She was the first ever student from a state school in Scotland. Following graduation she became a journalist, and worked briefly as a dramatist.
Her first success as a novelist came with Report for Murder The first Lindsay Gordon Mystery, first published in 1987.

Among her many awards are the Portico Prize for Fiction, the LA Times Book Prize, the Lambda Literary Pioneer Award and the Cartier Diamond Dagger. She has published 27 novels, short stories, non-fiction and a prize-winning children’s book. She is a regular broadcaster for BBC radio and lives in Edinburgh.

For more information about Val McDermid’s books check out her website http://www.valmcdermid.com or follow her on Twitter @valmcdermid

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