Still Life was written during the Covid lock down (because what else is a writer going to do when quarantined?). Val McDermid remains high on my list of authors I never want to miss, and in addition to her settings (I love Scotland), her engrossing characters and plots keep me coming back. The Tony Hill/Carol Jordan and the Karen Pirie series are favorites, but she also has plenty of standalones, and a couple of nonfiction books, including Forensics: The Anatomy of Crime that I intend to read some day.
Still Life has cold case DCI Karen Pirie involved in two cases. A traffic accident ends up revealing a skeleton in a van in a garage that has been there for at least ten years. As Karen and Jason investigate, they believe the body belongs to one of two women. However, in the midst of this investigation, Karen is sent to the Firth of Forth where a body has been discovered--connected to another cold case.
Juggling two cases, Karen must also deal with the release from prison of the man who killed her lover.
As usual, McDermid writes an absorbing tale with characters who have decided personalities of their own. Jason Murray, Karen's DC, is gaining confidence and is a loyal subordinate, and a new and interesting character is Daisy, who shows promise for future books.
In the last chapter, after both cases have been wrapped up, comes the change that has affected us all: the virus "that had been a whisper on the wind" as Karen, Jason, and Daisy investigated "had taken firm root in Scotland." All three "were warned of the lockdown that was to begin in the morning. They'd be working from home, whatever that meant in practice." What a conclusion. The case wrapped up, but their lives on hold.
I'm hoping McDermid will write a book dealing with Karen's team and crime during lockdown.
Read in June; blog review scheduled for Sept. 6.
Police Procedural/Cold Case. Oct. 6, 2020. Print length: 448 pages.