Thursday, October 8, 2020

Still Life (Inspector Karen Pirie #6)


Still Life is the 6th Karen Pirie mystery by Val McDermid. Released 6th Oct 2020 by Grove Atlantic on their Atlantic Monthly Press imprint, it's 436 pages and is available in hardcover, audio, and ebook formats.

McDermid is a prodigiously talented and precise writer. The characters are so finely rendered and so detailed that they felt real to me. This is an ensemble cast and Inspector Pirie makes good use of her team. The plotting is well controlled and the narrative arc (despite the hefty page count) never drags or loses engagement. Something is happening all the time and it really works very well. 

One thing which impresses me very much about McDermid is the realism of her prose. There's one moment in the book which literally made me *gasp* out loud I was so surprised (and dismayed). I stayed up an hour longer than my bedtime to make sure that the situation got resolved. (No spoilers, but *wow*). The language in this one is about par for the modern procedural genre. The cursing is used in context and I didn't find it egregious (there are a number of rugged Anglo-Saxon monosyllables including the f-bomb).

It works fine as a standalone, new readers needn't be intimidated by the thought of needing to read the previous books. This is an enjoyable thriller from a master at the top of their game.  The disparate plot threads both those from current events and from the past, intertwine and resolve into a very satisfying and believable denouement. I like it very much that the author doesn't feel the need to tie every single plot thread together into one overarching solution - the solutions to the mysteries are resolved, but they're not all tied together.

Five stars. Highly recommended for fans of procedurals. 

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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