Out of Bounds by Val McDermid

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Out of Bounds by Val McDermid

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Buy Out of Bounds by Val McDermid at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: Crime
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: The fourth book in the DCI Karen Pirie series works well as a stand alone, although I suspect that you'll get more out of the books if you read them in order. Either way, it's top class crime writing.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 496/12h 59m Date: August 2016
Publisher: Sphere
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0751561432

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When a teenage joyrider crashed a stolen car and ended up in a coma a routine check of his DNA revealed a connection to an unsolved murder from years before his birth. On the face of it, it looked as though solving the cold case should be straightforward, but it's not. Detective Chief Inspector Karen Pirie is an expert at clearing cases which have proved unsolvable but in this case it looks as though the law itself might prove to be an insurmountable barrier. She's drawn to another case too - one which she really has no business investigating - and one which has its roots in a terrorist bombing two decades earlier. Like the case of the teenage joyrider nothing is quite as it seems.

I've an embarrassing confession to make: despite having read crime fiction and particularly police procedurals for more than half a century, I'd never read any of Val McDermid's books. The excuses were weak: I've read a lot of Ian Rankin and there's only so much you can read about Edinburgh without wanting to move there permanently. She's got quite a back catalogue (Out of Bounds is her thirtieth book) and it always seems a little unfair to come into a series when it's already got into its stride. It was a sleepless night and nothing immediately to hand to read which overcome the niggles. Then I couldn't sleep because I didn't want to.

The plotting is rock solid, but twisted, tangled and utterly compelling. There's an elegant combination of the ethical dilemmas thrown up by the advances in forensic science and commentaries on modern society. I can understand why details of an adopted child's parentage shouldn't automatically be available to the police: it's something which can be argued either way, but I'm less clear about why refugees who want to work are prevented from doing so. McDermid brings the issues to life, vividly.

The book is intelligent and chilling; the pace and tension are handled by a master, but it was McDermid's eye for detail which lifted the story above the norm for me. I walked the streets of Edinburgh with the characters and felt bereft when I got to the end. I was completely taken by Karen Pirie despite the fact that I have grown rather tired of police officers who are insubordinate and senior officers who are less than honourable. Here it seemed to work and work well.

Out of Bounds read well as a standalone, but I suspect that there are spoilers, if not for the endings then for major incidents which would lose their shock value if you were expecting them. You might be better reading the books in order. I doubt you'll regret it.

For another Edinburgh cold case we can recommend Rather be the Devil by Ian Rankin.

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Buy Out of Bounds by Val McDermid at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Out of Bounds by Val McDermid at Amazon.com.


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