The Skeleton Road (Karen Pirie Series #2)

The Skeleton Road (Karen Pirie Series #2)

by Val McDermid


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“Heart wrenching. . . . McDermid delves ever more deeply into the psyches of the major characters . . . [and] excels in putting the reader at the center of the action. . . The Skeleton Road does an excellent job of wrangling with these big ideas inside a tightly paced mystery.”—Janet Napolitano, Los Angeles Times

The Skeleton Road , now available in paperback, is a gripping standalone novel about a cold case that links back to the Balkan Wars of the 1990s. In the center of historic Edinburgh, builders are preparing to demolish a disused Victorian Gothic building. They are understandably surprised to find skeletal remains hidden in a high pinnacle that hasn’t been touched by maintenance for years. But who do the bones belong to, and how did they get there? Could the eccentric British pastime of free climbing the outside of buildings play a role? Enter cold case detective Karen Pirie, who gets to work trying to establish the corpse’s identity. And when it turns out that the bones may be from as far away as former Yugoslavia, Karen will need to dig deeper than she ever imagined into the tragic history of the Balkans: to war crimes and their consequences, and ultimately to the notion of what justice is and who serves it.

“McDermid [is] a deft hand at crafting murder mysteries heavily laced with psychological suspense. . . Evocative writing . . . From vertiginous start to electrifying finale, The Skeleton Road delivers twists-a-plenty in this tautly-told tale.”—Daneet Steffens, The Boston Globe

“Melds the political thriller with the police procedural . . . Feels both intensely personal and global. . . . Karen . . . once again proves herself a formidable character worthy of her own series.” —Oline H. Cogdill, Associated Press

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780802124210
Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date: 12/08/2015
Series: Karen Pirie Series , #2
Pages: 423
Sales rank: 315,384
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Val McDermid is a world-class crime writer, whose best-selling novels have won the Los Angeles Times Book of the Year Award, and the Crime Writers’ Association’s Gold Dagger and Cartier Diamond Dagger Award for outstanding achievement. She is also a multiple finalist for the Edgar Award. She lives in Scotland.

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The Skeleton Road 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Whoever entitled this book The Skeleton Road did it a disservice. WAR CRIMES would be far more accurate and enticing title. I've read other Val Macdermaid books and enjoyed them, but this has become a new favorite. It combines police procedural with international investigation of dehumanizing crimes committed in the name of war by Serbians and Croatians during the 1990's. It gave me a new depth of understanding of the violence in the Balkans after Tito's death when Yugoslavia divided back into its ethnic components.
gloriafeit More than 1 year ago
The brief prologue of Val McDermid’s newest book describes the brutal murder in Crete of a man whose throat is cut, the first of many killings, both old and new, described in this fascinating novel. The second one becomes evident when a skeleton is found on the roof of a building in Edinburgh that was about to be demolished. The case is assigned to DCI Karen Pirie and her second-in-command, DC Jason Murray, of the Historic Cases Unit (as cold cases in Police Scotland are called), aided by Karen’s best friend, Dr. River Wilde, forensic anthropologist “the nearest thing Karen had to a best friend. Cursed by her hippie parents with a name nobody could take seriously, River had worked harder and smarter than any of her colleagues to earn respect beyond dispute. We are soon introduced to Professor Maggie Blake, self-described geography professor at Oxford, turning 50 as the book opens and a distinguished academic, prolific author, beloved tutor and efficient snapper-up of research grants.” Maggie is still trying to get past the fact that her significant other, a man she’d met in Dubrovnik in 1991 when he was 32, a retired Croatian general who was a NATO security advisor in Bosnia and a UN monitor in Kosovo, had gone of the grid and disappeared from her life eight years ago. She too has a best friend, Tessa Minogue, a lawyer “who dealt in the thorny moral dilemmas of human rights,” involved in the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. The book’s over-riding theme is that the world was more complex than it was comfortable to admit, as this book makes clear in its own complexities. There is much here about the massacres in the Balkans in the later years of the 20th century. Maggie has written a book about the consequences of the siege of Dubrovnik, but is now working on the story of “how she came to be there [and] the convoluted journey that had led her to Kosovo with its massacres and rape camps.” Interspersed through the tale are chapters of that work-in-progress. There are ongoing investigations of eleven instances of ICTFY targets being assassinated in what is believed to be someone’s idea of vigilante justice, and all of the investigations of these murders, old or current, converge in a fascinating plot with great historical detail, leading up to a suspenseful and jaw-dropping denouement, and the book is recommended.
Haziegaze More than 1 year ago
I haven’t read anything by Val McDermid before (shock, horror!!) so didn’t really know what to expect but I have heard many good things about her previous books so took a punt and requested a copy via NetGalley and was approved by the publisher, Little, Brown Book Group UK to receive it in return for an honest review. Set in Scotland, England and Croatia, the book follows the investigation into the murder of an unknown male found as a skeleton at the top of a derelict building in Edinburgh. The murder is put in the hands of the Historic Cases Unit and DCI Pirie who, with the help of her colleagues, discovers the identity of the body which leads her on a trip to Croatia and the discovery of secrets from the Yugoslav war of the 1990s. Running alongside Pirie’s investigation, we enter the world of two lawyers who work for the International Criminal tribunal who are attempting to find a killer who is assassinating war criminals. In amongst all this, we are transported into the world of Professor Maggie Blake, her relationship with a Croatian General and work in the underground universities in the former Yugoslavia. This is a complex book with complex characters, interweaving timelines and historical events with the present. For me, it’s not particularly fast paced and it took a while to get into it but once I did, it held my interest to the end. The characters are believable and the locations are expertly described. Would I recommend this book? In the main, yes but although it is described as a crime thriller, for me it lacked the “thrills” but is a great example of crime writing and story telling.
BasingstoneBook More than 1 year ago
A Scottish murder mystery with Balkan roots. DCI Karen Pirie as the Historical Crimes Unit are sent to investigate a skeleton found in an old Edinburgh building. Short of immediate clues they call on forensics to aid with identification and start an investigation that takes them to Oxford and beyond. They quickly establish the victim from Croatia but with no apparent connections to the house in Edinburgh but an important General in the Balkan wars of the 1990's. The story is good however it good have been improved by omitting some of the background flashbacks which were overdone. It is also easy to see the author is Scottish and with the impending referendum appears to be insecure, as all things Scottish are also unnecessarliy overdone.