Karen Pirie returns in 2023. A masterful thriller by the No. 1 Sunday Times Bestseller Val McDermid.
- Book 1 –The Distant Echo (HarperCollins, 2003)
- Book 2 –A Darker Domain (HarperCollins, 2008)
- Book 3 –The Skeleton Road (Little, Brown, 2014)
- Book 4 –Out of Bounds (Little, Brown, 2016)
- Book 5 –Broken Ground (Little, Brown, 2018)
- Book 6 –Still Life (Little, Brown, 2020)
- Book 7 –Past Lying (Little, Brown, 2023)
View more information about Val’s October Events
Pre-order this heart-pounding new novel in the Karen Pirie series, now a major ITV series starring Lauren Lyle.
There’s nothing like a killer story . . .
Hardcover – 12 Oct. 2023
Past Lying – Synopsis:
Edinburgh, haunted by the ghosts of its many writers, is also the cold case beat of DCI Karen Pirie. So she shouldn’t be surprised when an author’s manuscript appears to be a blueprint for an actual crime.
Karen can’t ignore the plot’s chilling similarities to the unsolved case of an Edinburgh University student who vanished from her own doorstep. The manuscript seems to be the key to unlocking what happened to Lara Hardie, but there’s a problem: the author died before he finished it.
As Karen digs deeper, she uncovers a spiraling game of betrayal and revenge, where lies are indistinguishable from the truth and with more than one unexpected twist . . .
The Queen of Crime Val McDermid is at the top of her game in her most gripping and fiendishly clever case yet.
“[McDermid] ingeniously flips over the rug and examines the pattern in reverse. Karen and her supporting cast are absorbing, providing insight into the restrictions on police work during the pandemic and plenty of Scottish flavor . . . Fans of the Karen Pirie television series . . . will be eager to read.”—Booklist
Edinburgh DCI Karen Pirie of the Historic Cases Unit takes on a fiendishly difficult assignment made even harder by the exigencies of the Covid-19 lockdown.
Now that Hamish Mackenzie, her coffee chain–owning boyfriend, is off in the Highlands, Karen’s settled into his home together with DS Daisy Mortimer, her lockdown flatmate. She’s allowed one hour of outdoor exercise a day, and she’s been warned to keep her distance from members of the public. So it’s lucky for her that mystery novelist Jake Stein, the leading suspect in the disappearance of Lara Hardie, an EU student who vanished a year ago, has died himself in the meantime. The weightiest piece of evidence against Jake, whose career had taken a sudden downturn after an ex-lover’s public accusations of sexual abuse had sent both his wife and publisher heading for the exits, is truly chilling: The Vanishing of Laurel Oliver, an unfinished manuscript he left behind that laid out in meticulous detail how fictional crime writer Jamie Cobain, an obvious stand-in for his author, lured the title character into an isolated location and strangled her so that he could frame his chess partner and professional rival Rob Thomas, a thinly disguised version of Ross McEwen, the rising mystery novelist and chess partner who’d taken up with Jake’s ex-wife, for the murder. The tricky setup sounds like Anthony Horowitz, but the subplot concerning Karen’s troubled efforts to shelter a Syrian refugee on the run from the assassins whose attack back home led to the deaths of his wife and son, is pure McDermid.
‘Ingenious, humane, and all too telling as a reminder of the costs of the pandemic even on its survivors.’— Kirkus Reviews (July 2023)
“In her seventh atmospheric series thriller, McDermid skillfully combines a twisty plot of murder and vengeance with the personal dramas of her detectives, set against the dramatic backdrop of a global pandemic. By the novel’s end, no one has been left unscathed by this traumatic time. . . I suspect Val McDermid’s book is the first of many crime novels that will explore the impact of COVID on the human psyche.”—Brian Kenney, First Clue Reviews (August 2023)
A Lockdown Cold Case
Val McDermid. Past Lying: A Karen Pirie Novel. November 14, 2023. 464 pages. Atlantic Monthly.
It’s April 2020, the third week of a pandemic lockdown in an eerily quiet and empty Edinburgh. Detective Chief Inspector Karen Pirie of Police Scotland’s Historic Cases Unit has hunkered down with Detective Sergeant Daisy Mortimer in a “quarantine bubble” in her boyfriend Hamish’s spacious New Town apartment while he isolates up in the Highlands. There are no active cold cases to occupy the two officers, and Karen is languishing while longing for something meaningful to investigate. She fights her restlessness with her daily one-hour walks, the maximum allowed under tight restrictions. But when DC Jason Murray receives a call from a contact at the National Library about an unfinished manuscript in the archives of a recently deceased crime novelist, the team may have stumbled upon a connection to the cold case of a young woman who disappeared a year earlier. But how do they investigate a crime while trying to stay within COVID protocols? A determined Karen finds herself “making mincemeat” of the regulations, but as she tells a colleague, “I have to be out on the streets doing what I do. Because I want the world to still be a decent place when we come out on the other side.” In her seventh atmospheric series thriller, McDermid skillfully combines a twisty plot of murder and vengeance with the personal dramas of her detectives, set against the dramatic backdrop of a global pandemic. By the novel’s end, no one has been left unscathed by this traumatic time. In her acknowledgments, McDermid notes that she penned this novel only in 2023, needing the distance of time to write about those frightening early days. I suspect her book is the first of many crime novels that will explore the impact of COVID on the human psyche. — Willy Williams
“While many writers have avoided this period because of the plot constraints, McDermid forges ahead and creates almost the same level of activity as we expect from works in this genre. . . While the author’s style drives the story with excellent pacing, she takes the time to insert some arch characterizations . . . McDermid’s novel is a generously sized, big book with an entertaining puzzle within a puzzle.”— New York Journal of Books
“With an intricate plot, authentic dialogue, rich details, and masterly McDermid twists and turns, Past Lying will delight Pirie fans, existing and new.”—Library Journal (starred review)
★McDermid, Val. Past Lying. Atlantic Monthly. (Karen Pirie, Bk. 7). Nov. 2023. 452p. ISBN 9780802161499. $27. THRILLER
Is there any greater pleasure than reading a writer at the top of her game? Following Still Life, McDermid returns with a new case for DCI Karen Pirie of Edinburgh’s Historic Cases Unit (HCU). It’s April 2020 and Karen and her team, together with the rest of the city, are in COVID lockdown and working from home when Jason “the Mint” Murray receives a call from Meera Reddy, his favorite archivist at the National Library of Scotland. Before the pandemic, she was processing the papers of the recently deceased crime writer Jake Stein and had been dismayed by one of his stories outlining a perfect murder. Stein’s fictionalized victim suffers from a rare form of epilepsy and bears a striking resemblance to a real young woman who disappeared in Edinburgh over a year ago. The HCU team reads the story and realizes that Meera may have stumbled upon something significant. They are soon working on the disappearance, despite juggling strict lockdown rules and the obstructionist intervention of their boss, ACC Markie.
VERDICT With an intricate plot, authentic dialogue, rich details, and masterly McDermid twists and turns, this book will delight Pirie fans, existing and new.— Penelope J.M. Klein
Karen Pirie is one of my favourite of Val’s creations, I love her strength and her humour. And this book being about novel writing (and awful writers!) felt like an extra treat. The ingenious plot kept me guessing all the way through. But the other parts of the story, the reminders of how GRIM life was under lockdown and the unbearable sorrow of losing loved ones, without even having a funeral, I found very moving. It’s interesting that I didn’t want to read about Covid while we were in the thick of it, but it’s easier now to see just how hard it was for us all. I also very much appreciated the compassionate storyline about refugees. The short description of the photos Rafiq took was enough to bring home the horror of Assad’s Syria. I’m so grateful to Val for highlighting this issue. Including it in a barnstorming crime novel is a stealthy and effective way to do it.
In other words, it is an all-rounder of a novel. It delivers on every level.’ – Marian Keyes