In Broken Ground, Val McDermid returns to one of my favourite characters of hers, detective chief inspector Karen Pirie, of the Historic Cases Unit ... The DCI – 'a dumpy wee woman with bad hair and terrible dress sense' who can pull out 'the kind of smile that makes small children whimper and cling to their mother’s legs' – is as intuitive, courageous and grumpy as ever, and McDermid’s plotting is top-notch. There is nothing more gratifying than watching a master craftswoman at work, and she is on fine form here.
The heroine of Val McDermid’s new novel is a wee bit of a crank ... Jessica Fletcher of Cabot Cove, Pirie isn’t ... It’s time that mystery writers noticed Europe’s newest arrivals [the Syrian refugees], whose lives are filled with a degree of suspense none of them ever wanted or deserved. Almost in passing, Broken Ground is revelatory in that regard.
Val McDermid’s Broken Ground opens in 1944 with a couple of men burying something in an isolated area of the Highlands...when the granddaughter of one of the men turns up, clutching a map left behind when he died, she finds something buried far more recently ... McDermid’s novels about cold cases have solid plots and fascinating forensic detail.
...a body wearing 1995 Nikes has been unearthed by treasure hunters looking for WWII loot. While fending off (Pirie) superior’s attempts to sabotage her work, she is also investigating a series of vicious rapes that occurred in the late eighties and has been drawn into a peculiar domestic stabbing. McDermid moves the reader deftly back and forth in time as her dab hand allows the indomitable Pirie to 'bring the dead home.'
There’s a reason readers around the world look forward to a new book by the ‘queen of crime’ and Val McDermid’s legions of fans will not be disappointed with this one. This new police procedural is her fifth crime thriller featuring Edinburgh police cold case detective Karen Pirie, who’s not above putting her faith in the value of her work above the priorities of her superiors ... Though Pirie makes some missteps, mostly with respect to her relations with other police officials, and especially with ACC Markie, McDermid never puts a foot wrong. Her prose is so clear and engaging, this is a book that will keep you turning pages. Like Pirie, you will be hungry for just that one more bit of evidence.
Enter Karen Pirie, cold case detective (because, hey, cases don’t get much colder than this), in the fifth installment of Val McDermid’s popular Karen Pirie series, Broken Ground ... McDermid’s books are relentlessly excellent, with sympathetically flawed characters, well-crafted storylines, a clever twist or two and crisp dialogue. It’s no wonder she is considered the queen of Scottish crime fiction.
One of the best things about this series is the details of Karen's working life, the obstacles as well as the satisfactions, and the small pleasures of her off hours. The mystery itself has a stop-start rhythm, but as a novel about the too-consuming work life many of us lead, it's timely and recognizable.