Saturday 22 May 2021

Guest Review: Still Life By Val McDermid

On a freezing winter morning, fishermen pull a body from the sea. It is quickly discovered that the dead man was the prime suspect in a decade-old investigation, when a prominent civil servant disappeared without trace. DCI Karen Pirie was the last detective to review the file and is drawn into a sinister world of betrayal and dark secrets.

But Karen is already grappling with another case, one with even more questions and fewer answers. A skeleton has been discovered in an abandoned campervan and all clues point to a killer who never faced justice - a killer who is still out there.

In her search for the truth, Karen uncovers a network of lies that has gone unchallenged for years. But lies and secrets can turn deadly when someone is determined to keep them hidden for good . . .

Review: This is the sixth book in the DCI Karen Pirie crime thriller series by the author, but this was the first one that I had come across, and it can be read as a standalone. The story begins in early 2020 when lobster fishermen recover a body from the Firth of Forth. It turns out that the dead person had been linked to an historic case involving the disappearance of a high ranking civil servant who had been working in the Scotland Office in London. Since DCI Pirie of Police Scotland’s Historic Cases Unit had been the last person to review the case-file relating to the disappearance, she becomes involved in this latest case. She is already working on a case involving the discovery of human remains in the garage of a woman in Perth who had been killed in a road accident. The story follows Karen and her team as they juggle the two cases.

The book is set mainly on the Fife coast of Scotland and in Edinburgh, although there are some overseas aspects. There is a connection to the world of art, hence the title, but to say any more would be to reveal too much. I listened to the audiobook version and found the plot to be very exciting, with many twists and turns to keep the listener, or reader, guessing. I liked the way that little clues were drip fed as the story developed. Having read a non-fiction book on forensics by the same author, it came as no surprise that the forensic science aspects of the book were well researched. Throughout, there are many references to contemporary issues, such as Brexit, the possibility of a second Scottish independence referendum and the start of the coronavirus epidemic in the UK. I particularly liked the descriptions of the various locations, some of which are familiar to me, so it was possible to feel that I was actually present at the scene.

Overall, I found this to be a fast-paced and thrilling book, and I thought that the narrator added to the enjoyment of the audio book, using different voices and accents for the various characters.

To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US

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