Review: “Broken Ground” by Val McDermid

Finally, a new book! There could have been two, but I finally decided to abandon one of the two most current reads in favor of something less boring. Honestly, unless there is an actual plot or a point or at least a pointe, please don’t make me sit through endless pages of self-criticizing journaling; it’s not cute. For those of you who might get suckered in by a diary about growing up in the 60s, I highly recommend “Diary of a Beatlemaniac” which was all the things this other book was not: funny, interesting, and a great read to the end.

I’ve also been disappointed that the copy of “Vegan Yack Attack on the Go!” that I won in an online contest hasn’t arrived. Then again, there hasn’t been much forward momentum as far as giving me a start date to go to work, either. I suppose that means there is no rush on the book. Still… I was however quite tickled to find my copy of “Infinite Tuesday” in the mailbox upon our return from Cleveland, signed by author, video pioneer, songwriter and former Monkee Michael Nesmith. I realize he does that for everyone who orders the book from the Videoranch website, but I’m loving it, anyway.

I don’t know if I have made it clear that I’m a bit of a sucker for good crime fiction. No midlife-crisis-battling, rubber-boots-wearing, quirky divorcees or chicks-who-must-find-their-true-selves for me! Hm, perhaps that doesn’t quite work in this case, because “Broken Ground”‘s lead character, DCI Karen Pirie, is certainly battling a crisis of sorts in this book, and since the setting is Scotland, rubber boots do make an appearance. Early on, in fact: together with an accommodating local, a young couple set out to dig up a pair of war-era motorcycles, hidden for decades in a peat bog. Literally thrown into the bargain is a dead body, significantly younger than the motorcycles. DCI Pirie from the Historic Case Unit now has to solve this murder, while simultaneously assisting in a domestic violence incidence turned deadly.

“Broken Ground” is Ms. McDermid’s 32nd thriller, if I remember the blurb from the back correctly, and it is quite obvious why her books are so popular. I was drawn into the story immediately, the characters are fleshed out quickly and with practiced ease. The suspense is built and maintained excellently; I think it took me two days and a bit to get through this book (primarily because I do have other things to do, regrettably, or it might have been a one-day read for me). If you are a fan of gritty, rain-soaked locales, but prefer your detectives to be allowed a private life, you will love this book. I certainly highly recommend it. The only thing I did not care for so much were the final two chapters. The second-to-last chapter reads a bit like a rush job to tie up loose ends, the last chapter really adds nothing to the story, except laying out the scene of a murder as it had already been surmised by investigators earlier on. Instead of bringing closure, it just reads a bit redundant.

“Broken Ground” will be published by Grove Atlantic this December. I received an advance copy via Netgalley in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own, unless otherwise stated.

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