OUT OF BOUNDS by Val McDermid


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A fatal car crash leads to information about a cold murder case in the fourth DCI Karen Pirie mystery.

The drunken accident reveals DNA which may allow Karen to make an arrest in a decades old rape/murder. But that's only one of three mysteries in the course of the book. There's also the suicide of a local oddball, which may not be a suicide, and the questions surrounding the death of the man's mother years before in a plane explosion hastily credited to the Irish Republican Army. There's also Karen's interactions with a group of Syrian refugees, which stop just short of being sentimental, and her own continuing attempts to get over the murder of her lover and colleague. That the book is so overstuffed is a mark of the current trend for mysteries to weigh in at 400 pages rather than 200 (or less) lean ones. And since the car crash and the information that flows from it are gradually pushed aside in favor of an investigation of the suspicious death and the plane crash, it would have made sense to allot it far less space. What holds the novel together is Karen. Enough of us have encountered stupid people put in positions of power who take delight in running down the far smarter people beneath them that Karen's refusal to suffer her foolish superiors gladly is very appealing. As is her winning combination of being both brooding and no-nonsense.

This wayward and entertaining mystery has the grace of a heroine on the verge of coming into her own as a character whom readers will want to spend time with.

Pub Date: Dec. 6th, 2016
ISBN: 978-0-8021-2574-3
Page count: 432pp
Publisher: Atlantic Monthly
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 2016


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