Friday, 13 December 2019
Broken Ground - Val McDermid
It was my intention to read the Karen Pirie novels in order but Broken Ground is the fifth, published in 2018. Fortunately McDermid is so skilled that it makes no real difference - she updates the reader on what they need to know, which is that Pirie's partner has been killed and she is in a period of bereavement.
The business of the Historic Cases Unit goes on however. At first it seems the body found alongside two wartime Harley Davidson motorbikes is outside the unit's remit. They only deal with deaths less than seventy years old in which there is a realistic chance of relatives and witnesses who are still living. Closer examination reveals the dead man is wearing trainers from 1995. Pirie and her gormless assistant Jason 'The Mint' Murray enter the world of wartime double agents, contemporary professional strongmen and motorhome etiquette of the mid-nineties.
The plot rolls out over 500 pages which unfold like a dream. I didn't much like the flashbacks but they were effective enough as a device for delivering the back story. I thoroughly enjoyed the development of the main characters and I especially enjoyed McDermid's daring finale in which Karen arrests her suspect but all her problems are left hanging for the next installment. So what am I supposed to do now, Val, if I find myself looking at Volume 2 and Volume 6? I know, the answer is obvious (get both), but which do I read first?