A Darker Domain

A Darker Domain

4.0 9
by Val McDermid

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“[A Darker Domain] combines a thrilling story with heartbreaking questions of social justice and history.”
Seattle Times


The New York Times calls Val McDermid, “As smooth a practitioner of crime fiction as anyone out there…the best we’ve got.” Time spent with her

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“[A Darker Domain] combines a thrilling story with heartbreaking questions of social justice and history.”
Seattle Times


The New York Times calls Val McDermid, “As smooth a practitioner of crime fiction as anyone out there…the best we’ve got.” Time spent with her extraordinary thriller, A Darker Domain, will prove that it’s true. Set in Scotland, the milieu of Ian Rankin’s John Rebus, McDermid’s brilliant exploration of loyalty and greed intertwines the past and present. It was chosen as a New York Times Notable Crime Book of the Year and was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Spanning 24 hours during the Cannes Film Festival, this scintillating parable about shallowness, greed and celebrity worship from international bestseller Coelho (The Alchemist) unsparingly examines the Superclass, the elite's elite, whose members' dependence on luxury corrupts. Wealthy Russian businessman Igor Malev, who's obsessed with his ex-wife, Ewa, now married to a fashion designer turned producer, morphs into a serial killer to get Ewa's attention. No one is immune as Igor targets a comely street vendor, an influential movie distributor and a big-name actor. The power plays among the various directors, movie stars, starlets and producers make Igor's antics appear almost banal in comparison. Coelho's trademark mysticism and spiritual messages provide an extra boost to the thriller plot. (Apr.)

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Library Journal

Russian telecommunications tycoon Igor will do anything to get his ex-wife, Eva, back-even committing serial murder. Eva's new husband, a fashion couturier interested in branching into film production, has brought her to the Cannes Film Festival, where the killings begin to gain her attention. In his 12th novel, internationally best-selling author Coelho (The Alchemist) offers a timely critique of the degeneration of the world's societal mores. Through his complex characters, Coelho illustrates the absurdity of the false dreams we are fed through the strong influences of the fashion and moviemaking industries. He also touches on the intricate connections of major global crises like the Rwandan genocide and money laundering by drug cartels to show how greed can manipulate and destroy. Recommended for popular fiction collections.
—Joy St. John

Kirkus Reviews
A serial killer arrives at the Cannes Film Festival, in New Age guru Coelho's listless thriller (Brida, 2008, etc.). Igor, the protagonist and villain, is a veteran of the Afghan wars, a post-Soviet mobile-phone mogul and a self-confessed workaholic. He has come to Cannes intent on winning back his ex-wife, Ewa, who's now married to superstar designer Hamid Hussein. Ewa left Igor (he rationalizes) because as a power couple-she's a successful fashionista-they had no private life. Knowing his ex and Hamid will attend Cannes with the other glitterati, Igor plans to convince Ewa of his ardor by "destroying universes," aka killing people. The body count begins with Olivia, a beachside jewelry vendor, followed by Javits, a kingpin film distributor, then Maureen, an independent film director hoping to pitch Javits. As Igor dispatches his capriciously chosen targets throughout the day, he texts cryptic notes to Ewa. The de rigueur novelty murder methods are employed: martial arts, curare, an anatomically aimed stiletto, cyanide gas. Potential victims include Jasmine, a young model about to be discovered by Hamid, and Gabriela, an aspiring actress who's plucked from wannabe ranks to costar in a new film venture bankrolled by Hamid. These vapid young lovelies, awed and humbled by their impending induction into the "Superclass," never miss a chance to pontificate about the ultimate pointlessness of champagne-soaked soirees. Dead Olivia becomes a benevolent spirit guide for Igor, transforming his zeal to reclaim his ex into sanctimonious recriminations over having killed for Ewa, which then, through a leap of illogic, turn into self-righteous resistance to the "temptation" to stop killing for her.(Confusing? No, Coelho.) A promising antagonist, Morris, a retired Scotland Yard detective consulted by panicky Cannes gendarmes, is close to profiling the killer but then, inexplicably, gives up. The inconclusive ending validates our worst fears: There could be a sequel.
Romantic Times
“This renowned Scottish writer’s fascinating new book is dark, less violent than some previous titles and heartbreakingly vivid. Its greatest strength is its depiction of the horrendous miners’ strike of the mid-1980s. . . . This is a wonderfully written book you can’t put down.”
“Complex and layered plotlines come together, and McDermid does an excellent job creating tension around a cold case. Sure to be a hit with McDermid’s large fan base, it should also appeal to those who read other Scottish police mysteries.”
USA Today
“McDermid pulls us deeply into the lives of the victims and their families. . . . Pirie is a complicated heroine made all the more appealing by her everywoman demeanor.”
Connecticut Post
“A DARKER DOMAIN is a prime example of a crime novel that manages to encompass politics, sexual relations and social changes as it examines two unsolved crimes of the mid-1980s. . . . McDermid digs into the two cold cases through a pair of terrific investigators.”
South Florida Sun Sentinel
“McDermid keeps the suspense high as she also delivers an emotionally wrenching story about people abandoned by those they trust the most.”
Mystery Scene
“Gripping and intense. . . . A strong, suspenseful psychological thriller. . . . McDermid pulls together these disparate cases with the aplomb and skill that will remind readers of her masterpiece, A Place of Execution. McDermid takes us into the heart of a mining community where unity meant survival.”
BookPage (Mystery of the Month)
“Multifaceted and relentlessly gripping. . . . McDermid advances each of the storylines separately until they are so intertwined that it becomes impossible to separate them, the intrigue mounting with each page turned.”
(Mystery of the Month) - BookPage
"Multifaceted and relentlessly gripping. . . . McDermid advances each of the storylines separately until they are so intertwined that it becomes impossible to separate them, the intrigue mounting with each page turned."

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A Darker Domain

A Novel

By Val McDermid
Copyright © 2009

Val McDermid
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-06-168898-0

Chapter One Wednesday, 23rd January 1985; Newton of Wemyss

The voice is soft, like the darkness that encloses them.

"You ready?"

"As ready as I'll ever be."

"You've told her what to do?" Words tumbling now, tripping over each other, a single stumble of sounds.

"Don't worry. She knows what's what. She's under no illusions about who's going to carry the can if this goes wrong." Sharp words, sharp tone. "She's not the one I'm worrying about."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"Nothing. It means nothing, all right? We've no choices. Not here. Not now. We just do what has to be done." The words have the hollow ring of bravado. It's anybody's guess what they're hiding. "Come on, let's get it done with."

This is how it begins.

Wednesday, 27th June 2007; Glenrothes

The young woman strode across the foyer, low heels striking a rhythmic tattoo on vinyl flooring dulled by the passage of thousands of feet. She looked like someone on a mission, the civilian clerk thought as she approached his desk. But then, most of them did. The crime prevention and public information posters that lined the walls were invariably wasted on them as they approached, lost in the slipstream of their determination.

She bore down on him, her mouth set in a firm line. Not bad looking, he thought. But like a lot of the women who showed up here, she wasn't exactly looking her best. She could have done with a bit more make-up, to make the most of those sparkly blue eyes. And something more flattering than jeans and a hoodie. Dave Cruickshank assumed his fixed professional smile. "How can I help you?" he said.

The woman tilted her head back slightly, as if readying herself for defence. "I want to report a missing person."

Dave tried not to show his weary irritation. If it wasn't neighbours from hell, it was so-called missing persons. This one was too calm for it to be a missing toddler, too young for it to be a runaway teenager. A row with the boyfriend, that's what it would be. Or a senile granddad on the lam. The usual bloody waste of time. He dragged a pad of forms across the counter, squaring it in front of him and reaching for a pen. He kept the cap on; there was one key question he needed answered before he'd be taking down any details. "And how long has this person been missing?"

"Twenty-two and a half years. Since Friday the fourteenth of December 1984, to be precise." Her chin came down and truculence clouded her features. "Is that long enough for you to take it seriously?"

Detective Sergeant Phil Parhatka watched the end of the video clip then closed the window. "I tell you," he said, "if ever there was a great time to be in cold cases, this is it."

Detective Inspector Karen Pirie barely raised her eyes from the file she was updating. "How?"

"Stands to reason. We're in the middle of the war on terror. And I've just watched my local MP taking possession of 10 Downing Street with his missus." He jumped up and crossed to the mini-fridge perched on top of a filing cabinet. "What would you rather be doing? Solving cold cases and getting good publicity for it, or trying to make sure the muzzers dinnae blow a hole in the middle of our patch?"

"You think Gordon Brown becoming prime minister makes Fife a target?" Karen marked her place in the document with her index finger and gave Phil her full attention. It dawned on her that for too long she'd had her head too far in the past to weigh up present possibilities. "They never bothered with Tony Blair's constituency when he was in charge."

"Very true." Phil peered into the fridge, deliberating between an Irn Bru and a Vimto. Thirty-four years old and still he couldn't wean himself off the soft drinks that had been treats in childhood. "But these guys call themselves Islamic jihadists and Gordon's a son of the manse. I wouldn't want to be in the chief constable's shoes if they decide to make a point by blowing up his dad's old kirk." He chose the Vimto. Karen shuddered.

"I don't know how you can drink that stuff," she said. "Have you never noticed it's an anagram of vomit?"

Phil took a long pull on his way back to his desk. "Puts hairs on your chest," he said.

"Better make it two cans, then." There was an edge of envy in Karen's voice. Phil seemed to live on sugary drinks and saturated fats but he was still as compact and wiry as he'd been when they were rookies together. She just had to look at a fully leaded Coke to feel herself gaining inches. It definitely wasn't fair.

Phil narrowed his dark eyes and curled his lip in a good-natured sneer. "Whatever. The silver lining is that maybe the boss can screw some more money out of the government if he can persuade them there's an increased threat."

Karen shook her head, on solid ground now. "You think that famous moral compass would let Gordon steer his way towards anything that looked that self-serving?" As she spoke, she reached for the phone that had just begun to ring. There were other, more junior officers in the big squad room that housed the Cold Case Review Team, but promotion hadn't altered Karen's ways. She'd never got out of the habit of answering any phone that rang in her vicinity. "CCRT, DI Pirie speaking," she said absently, still turning over what Phil had said, wondering if, deep down, he had a hankering to be where the live action was.

"Dave Cruickshank on the front counter, Inspector. I've got somebody here, I think she needs to talk to you." Cruickshank sounded unsure of himself. That was unusual enough to grab Karen's attention.

"What's it about?"

"It's a missing person," he said.

"Is it one of ours?"


Excerpted from A Darker Domain by Val McDermid Copyright © 2009 by Val McDermid . Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Meet the Author

VAL McDERMID is the internationally bestselling author of more than twenty crime novels. She has won the CWA Gold Dagger Award for Best Crime Novel of the Year and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize; her novels have been selected as New York Times Notable Books and have been Edgar Award finalists. She was the 2010 recipient of the CWA Cartier Diamond Dagger for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Crime Writing. More than 10 million copies of her books have been sold around the world. She lives in the north of England. Visit her website at www.valmcdermid.com.

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