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Inspector Karen Pirie Books In Order

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Publication Order of Inspector Karen Pirie Books

Inspector Karen Pirie Series

Karen Pirie is the main character in Inspector Karen Pirie series by Scotland author of crime, thriller and mystery books Val McDermid. McDermid is also the author of three other book series including Lindsay Gordon, Kate Brannigan, and Tony Hill and Carol Jordan series. She has won several awards including the Los Angeles Times Book of the Year award and CWA Gold Dagger Award.

McDermid began Inspector Karen Pirie series in 2003 when The Distant Echo was published.

The Distant Echo

The Distant Echo is book one in Karen Pirie series by Val McDermid. Instead of using flashback, McDermid focuses on the past in the fast half of the book where we are introduced to four St. Andrew’s University students. The year is 1978 when the four young students, after a night of party and drinking make their way back home. On their way, Alex Gilbey finds the nearly dead 19-year-old girl named Rosie Duff lying in the snow adjacent to an isolated Scottish cemetery.

While the four friends gather around the dying Rosie, little, did they know that it would change their lives forever? Even though Alex the fast of the four runs for help while others try to keep the girl they all know well alive, help arrived a bit late for Rosie.

Without no substantial evidence to point to the culprit, and with their alibis not convincing enough, the four friends who were acting as good Samaritan and had Rosie’s blood all over their clothes in efforts to keep her alive, find themselves the main suspects in Rosie’s murder. While they are never formally charged with the murder and no evidence against them, the suspicion that follows them forever changes their lives, and Rosie’s death would remain unsolved for decades.

The story fast forwards 25 years later, and the Fife Police Department has initiated a quest to solve cold case murders including Rosie’s murder case. A team of investigators is assembled including in detective Karen Pirie who is tasked with locating missing evidence related to Rosie case. Reopening Rosie’s case also reawakens dark memories and fears when one of Alex’s buddies dies under mysterious circumstances and a second dies in what seems to be a burglary gone wrong. Alex does not believe that the deaths were as a result of random attacks and comes to learn that he must act before more of his friends die.

The first in Karen Pirie series is a brilliant read. The story itself is more about the consequences of false blame and how the four friends manage to live through such an ordeal. The main characters are all loveable, and the author does a great job in showing their progression from youth to fully grown people. The writing itself is sharp, crisp and concise, McDermid uses simple language, and the writing is steadily paced. The story itself is divided into segments; the first section follows the events of 1978 with the second taking the reader 25 years after Rosie’s murder.
A Darker Domain

The second book in Inspector Karen Pirie opens up in 1984 with coal miners’ strike at its peak in Great Britain. The miner’s families had no food, no heat, and no hope. In desperation, a few folks went south to work in mines in Nottingham. Newton people despised these miners, and the families they had left back in Newton were vilified.

Mick Prentice vanished from Newton in 1984, and his family (Jennie and their daughter Misha) assumed that he had gone scabbing and assumed he’d never return and so they wrote him out of their lives forever.

Fast forward 2007 and Misha’s little boy is dying from leukemia and is need of emergency bone marrow transplant. When they are unable to find a compatible donor, Misha resolves the only way to save her son is by locating her father and comes to learn that he never went to Nottingham as they had assumed.

After22 years, Misha goes to the cops and declares her father a missing person. It’s from this point on we meet inspector Karen, a cold case detective who by her means dives into the inquiry. However, she has to hide this case from her disapproving superiors, Simon Lees who’s nicknamed The Macaroon and considered a bit of a fool. Simon does not want to spend resources on this old case, and his interactions with detective Karen make for the funny part of the book.
Karen is also assigned to another cold case. Over 20years ago, Catriona and her son Adam were abducted. Catriona’s dad agreed to pay a ransom to have his daughter and grandson back, but the handover went terribly wrong. As a result, Catriona was murdered, the abductors escaped, and baby Adam vanished.

Now twenty years later, a Bel Richmond, a freelance journalist is spending her vacation in Italy when comes across clues related to Catriona’s abduction. Bel sends her discovery wagers her finding into an interview with Catriona’s father who then reports the new evidence to the police and insists that detective Pirie handle the case.

Grant also secretly requests Bel to gather more leads, and she agrees in hopes to get a movie or a book deal from the whole business. Meanwhile, detective Susan and her partner struggle to solve the two cold cases.

To locate the whereabouts of Mick, the two detectives first interrogate his family, friends as well as officers from the Miner’s union. Additionally, they also ask the Nottingham cops to interviews miners who settled in the area decades before.

On the other hand, to find Catriona’s abductors, the police talk to her ex-boyfriend and her father and get some help from the cops in Italy. As the investigations to the two cold cases continue, discoveries are made. A Darker Domain story switches back and forth from the past to the present, and the reader learns the character’s lives 20 years ago and the investigation in the presents. The story features a twisty plot with a couple of engaging lead characters and two cold cases that need solving.

Book Series In Order » Characters » Inspector Karen Pirie

6 Responses to “Inspector Karen Pirie”

  1. Curtis G: 10 months ago

    The Karen Pirie series is about as good as detective fiction can get. Val McDermid really is a top notch writer. The Skeleton Road is an amazing read, especially for someone who stays current with events in the world. I’m delighted I have three more books from the series to read.

  2. Roger: 2 years ago

    Just this minute finished ‘Broken Ground’… and have ‘Still Life’ to take away on holiday with me… Karen Pirie is an amazing character, so real, believable and fascinating. Please tell me that ‘Still Life’ will not be the last time I meet her wily, blunt and determined charms.

  3. myra mcmillan: 2 years ago

    please don,t stop writing about karen she is one of the best characters evershe sounds like somebody you met in a pub and had a great night with.ihave read all 6 books and look forward to reading more

  4. Robb Maxwell: 2 years ago

    I belong to a Book Club in which each of us chooses an author. I have chosen Val McDermid because her Karen Pirrie novels have captured my imagination and I would like other reader to also experience the magic of her writing. Her best book ever is “A Place of Execution” in which you can almost smell the heather on the moors, a fabulous work of fiction.

  5. pete williams: 2 years ago

    have just finished reading ‘Still life ‘
    please tell me that Ms. McDermid will be writing more books in the Karen Pirie series!

  6. Pete: 3 years ago

    You don’t read much of Karen Pirrie in the first book in the series.
    It’s a danm good read though and keeps you guessing til the end.


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