BOOK REVIEW: VAL MCDERMID – STILL LIFE

Today, I am back with another book review and this time, it’s all about crime… It’s Val McDermid’s new bestselling novel, Still Life.

Today, I am here with another review of a book that I was kindly gifted as part of a read-a-long with Tandem Collective and the publisher! It’s the new novel in her bestselling Karen Pirie series, Still Life, by Val McDermid. But first, what is it about? Here is the synopsis:

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.

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 . . .

I am a bit hit and miss with crime fiction – sometimes I am into them, sometimes I can’t stand them and it’s a cycle that goes on and on. But Val McDermid is an author I have wanted to get into for a long time as she is well respected and the covers of her books always intrigue me… but this is a novel in her Karen Pirie series and I didn’t know what to expect but as soon as I started it, I couldn’t put it down!

Even though I haven’t read any of her work before, it didn’t matter because I was hooked from the very first page. This was a proper mystery to get yourself lost into, especially on a weekend afternoon. The writing is sharp, political, hilarious, tense, atmospheric, and so much more. It’s absorbing and I felt I was right there, part of the story. I loved how she used the landscape of Scotland (and other countries) in the novel, almost a character all of their own.

Speaking of character, I absolutely loved these characters. I loved Karen, I thought she was a brilliant character and I could see her, jumping from the page, fully formed. I think that’s a good skill of McDermid to do that because I haven’t read any of the books before, I have no idea who Karen is but I loved her. I also loved the characters around her, especially Daisy. I thought she was a brilliant character and she was a character I was rooting for, too. I also loved Jason and the murky suspects that made up the ensemble of the novel.

There are a lot of cultural, social and political events throughout the novel. From Brexit, Scottish Independence, to even COVID-19 and lockdown! I think some people wouldn’t like that but it didn’t bother me. For me, it was just another part of making the world more believable and not some fictional dystopia, I felt as if they were a real police force in Scotland, on the brink of lockdown and I loved it! Especially the ending.

This was a great novel that I lost myself too and it’s a perfect weekend read or for when the nights get colder and darker… the only little niggle I had was that I wanted more resolution for the other case, the one with the skeleton in the camper van. I just felt there was no definite conclusion unlike the other case but it didn’t ruin the experience for me at all.

This may have been my first Val McDermid novel but it won’t be my last. Now, I want to go back and read the other books in the Karen Pirie series and find out even more about her. If you’re looking for a new crime thriller, look no further. A big thank you to Tandem Collective/the publisher for my copy – I loved it!

Have you read Still Life? Are you a fan of Val McDermid and her books? Let me know in the comments!

Thank you,

Corey.

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