Year 3 / Book 30: Out of Bounds

30) Out of Bounds by Val McDermid

There are few better crime writers around than Val McDermid, and this is solidly in the top middle of her novels that I’ve read. Normally that wouldn’t be much of a recommendation, but in her case that just means ‘pretty bloody good’. In this story, Karen Pirie is beavering her way through cold cases, and gets tangled up in two of them simultaneously: one a domestic murder outside a nightclub, and the other a high profile helicopter crash connected to a recent sudden death.

It is all expertly plotted, and the nature of the cases gives McDermid plenty of range to divert herself into other subjects: the different and conflicting nature of human rights; Syrian immigration to Scotland; and how people cope after trauma and bereavement. It being the nature of my work, I was particularly pleased to see her recommending a social enterprise approach at one point: would that we could embed that message in more mainstream fare.

The cases themselves twist and resolve satisfyingly, and Pirie is an engaging and believable lead as the bolshy, stubborn, admirable, kind-hearted and driven DCI who is throwing herself back into work and long night walks to get over the loss of her colleague and partner. Her ability to consistently outwit her superiors and take chances on an almost daily basis beggars some belief, but she’s bloody likeable and that goes a long way in this sort of police procedural.

Overall, you could do a hell of a lot worse to wind away a few hours on a beach, on a plane or simply curling up in the back garden. McDermid is still at the top of her game, and there are few mor reliable authors to provide such good and consistent entertainment and distraction.

Score: 7/10

BUY IT NOW: Out of Bounds (Karen Pirie Book 4)

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