15 Jun 2017



BACK COVER BLURB: When a skeleton is discovered hidden at the top of a crumbling, gothic building in Edinburgh, Detective Chief Inspector Karen Pirie is faced with the unenviable task of identifying the bones. As Karen's investigation gathers momentum, she is drawn deeper into a dark world of intrigue and betrayal.

Meanwhile, someone is taking the law into their own hands in the name of justice and revenge -- but when present resentment collides with secrets of the past, the truth is more shocking than anyone could have imagined . . .

FIRST SENTENCE {PROLOGUE}: Sunset is often a glamorous business in the Cretan holiday harbour of Chania.

MEMORABLE RANDOM MOMENT{PAGE 221}: Did he seriously think that Maggie Blake would feel better about being deserted by a murderer rather than losing her lover to a killer? (Sorry folks, I'd lost the post-it-note saving my Memorable Moment so simply opened the book at a random page and, closing my eyes, pointed at a random sentence. TT)

SOURCE: Given to me from a friend.

READ FOR: The 13th book read for the Mount TBR Reading Challenge 2017.

MY THOUGHTS: As a fan of psychological/crime fiction Val McDermid is an author many fellow readers have recommended to me. Perhaps not one of her better books. Whilst I can't say I'll never pick up any of her other novels this one certainly won't have me hurrying to read any more. 

Long winded. Veering between the Balkan War atrocities of the early 1990's and present day England, Scotland and Croatia. Alas the interweaving timelines (to say nothing of the toing and froing between the various countries AND the inclusion of the back stories of several of the prominent characters) whilst convoluted enough to make the plot difficult to follow weren't so convoluted as to make the ending anything like a surprise.

Lacking any characters who interested me, let alone any I came to care about. I also had a difficulty in that whilst I do like strong, feisty female leads, I don't like this to be at the cost of male characters who here, almost without exception (in fact I'm struggling to think of any exception), were portrayed as being only slightly short of imbeciles.

Perhaps worst of all though was the feeling that the whole novel was driven by the author's sense of social conscience and feminist agenda. Not that these cannot play a part but arguably not when the reader feels as if they are being blatantly preached to.


Kelly said...

I seem to remember reading a stand-alone by this author years ago (thinking she has some long-running series, too?) that I enjoyed. This one doesn't sound too appealing, though. I can think of a few authors I read who tend to get "preachy" with their social agendas, but it's something I can overlook if everything else about the book/series is good. It appears this one failed on several levels.

Considering how you came up with it, not a bad memorable moment at all!

Mary (Bookfan) said...

Ugh, I hate a book that has an agenda. I agree, it's not a bad thing if it doesn't seem forced but still - I don't want to be preached at (to?). I've heard of the author but still consider myself a newbie reader in this genre. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Suko said...


Thanks for your very honest review. Obviously, this book wasn't for you. I hope the next book you pick up is more to your liking.

Brian Joseph said...

I tend to like mysteries that center on crimes that happened in the past. The Bosnian Civil War is also terribly tragic and interesting. Too bad that this was lacking in so many other ways.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your very
heartfelt and honest review.
Perhaps I would only borrow
this book from the library.

Melliane said...

Ah a bit complicated there

Natasha Hill said...

This sounded quite good but like you I'm not too keen on authors who lace the prose with too much of their own agenda. I definitely understand why it can come through, but I think when I'm reading a book unless the subject matter is on that particular subject, I like to escape and dream so I would probably give this one a pass, but another brilliant review here, as always Tracy. - Tasha

Literary Feline said...

I'm trying to remember if I have read anything by McDermid of if she's just on my must read list. I am sorry this one didn't work for you, Tracy. I'm not a fan of preaching in books regardless of whether I would agree with the author or not.

DMS said...

Sorry you didn't enjoy this one. I thought the cover looked interesting. As always- hearing your thoughts was a treat. :)

Karen Alderman said...

I need to connect to characters or else I don't care what the heck is going on otherwise.

For What It's Worth

Alexia561 said...

Sorry that this one didn't work our for you. I don't like being preached at by authors, so wouldn't like this one either. Hope your next read is better!