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Sunday, July 12, 2009

A Darker Domain

McDermid, Val. A Darker Domain.

Val McDermid has several series, including the Tony Hill novels which are the basis for the BBC series Wire in the Blood featuring Robson Green. A Darker Domain is a stand-alone novel (and hopefully, a new series) featuring Detective Karen Pirie, head of the Cold Case Review Team in Fife, Scotland.

When a young woman comes in searching for her missing father, who walked out on them 22 years earlier. She has a young son who needs a bone marrow transplant and desperately needs to locate her father.

Detective Pirie can't resist and finds herself more and more curious about the disappearance of Mick Prentice. At the same time, however, she is assigned to another a case involving the kidnapping and murder of Catriona Maclennan Grant, daughter of one of Scotland's wealthiest men. New evidence discovered by an investigative journalist has Brodie Grant once again eager to find and punish his daughter's murderers and hopefully to discover his missing grandson still alive.

Mick Prentice disappeared in 1984 during the devastating miner's strike, and his wife believes he left with 5 men who left the village to work as scabs, betraying family and friends. Pirie determines that Mick did not leave with the men and continues trying to determine what happened to Mick even as she works on the 20 year old kidnapping/murder case.

The story is told partly by flashbacks involving various characters. The cases eventually converge, although this link seem a trifle forced. However, if these two old cases coming to the fore at the same time seems coincidental, McDermid still manages to keep the reader involved with the characters and the narrative. A few things about the conclusion bothered me, but not excessively.

Detective Karen Pirie is well-developed and likable, and I hope to see more of her in future novels. The book was a page-turner for me, and despite the few quibbles, I enjoyed it very much!

Fiction. Crime/Mystery. 2009. 355 pages.


  1. Ooh, now here's another mystery author I haven't read yet but am just dying to read. This sounds like a good place to start.

  2. Like Nicola, this is an author I have been really wanting to read. I think I have The Mermaids Singing sitting on my shelf waiting to be read.

  3. One of my favorite authors. Her A Place of Execution is brilliant. I just got a copy of A Darker Domain through Paperback Swap, and I know it won't be long before I read it. Thanks for the review!

  4. Nicola - There is always another writer, isn't there? Those we always mean to get around to and those we have yet to discover!

    LF - The Mermaids Singing is one of her Tony Hill novels. I haven't read any of them yet, but have enjoyed the BBC series Wire in the Blood which features Tony Hill and Carol Jordan...although the series is pretty dark.

    Cathy - I'll add A Place of Execution to my list, thanks, Cathy!

  5. I've been wanting to try out one of her books but we made the mistake of watching the first season of Wire in the Blood, which I thought was excellent, so now I have to wait a while before I can check out her Tony Hill series. I feel like that's still too fresh in my mind. But, a new series means I can definitely check this out :) I like the sound of this book so it's going on my list.

  6. Iliana - I enjoyed this one, and have read a couple of her others that I enjoyed, but I do want to read the Tony Hill series!