Title: Still Life (Inspector Karen Pirie #6)
Author: Val McDermid
Published on: 20th August 2020 (Expected publication by grove Atlantic on 6th October 2020)
Genre: Mystery and Thrillers
DS Daisy gets a phone call from her boss one morning saying she’s to attend a postmortem – a dead body was found by the fishermen in Scotland’s Firth of Forth. The dead man is identified as a French national by the name of Paul Allard. Soon, Daisy learns there’s more to Paul Allard than what is already known. His driving license and passport dates back to two years ago. Where was Paul Allard before that? Or, most importantly, what was Paul Allard known has before he changed his name?
DCI Karen Pirie has barely moved on – the tragic death of her lover Phil still haunts her. Her new muse Hamish goes over the line to impress her or protect her. And Karen does not like it. Susan’s sister died in a hit-and-run accident. When Susan went to her sister’s place to have a look, she found an old camper van with skeletal remains in it. Karen is called to investigate.
This is my first McDermid read but it is surely not going to be my last. Val McDermid has been hailed as the Britain’s Queen of Crimes and I can see why. Still Life is the perfect amalgamation of suspense, complex yet strong and likeable characters and two mysteries to keep one hooked on to the story.
I will talk about the plot first and then move on to character development. I really liked how the readers are introduced to not one but two mysteries. We have the case of ‘finding the remains on a camper van‘ and ‘the mysterious appearance of a man who disappeared years ago‘.
Once Daisy finds out Paul Allard was an alias of a man who disappeared years ago, the case gets transferred to Karen. Daisy and Karen embark a journey to Paris to dig deeper into the mystery behind Paul Allard’s life as a French national. Paul’s (aka James) brother was a Scottish Government employee; one night he went missing and was never seen again. James was a main suspect in his brother’s disappearance. James fled from Scotland and ended up in the French Legion as a musician.
Karen also has another case to solve. The mysterious remains found in an accident victim’s garage. Clues lead Karen and her sidekick Jason to the victim’s girlfriend. There is some doubt here – the remains might belong to a woman who is active on social media. Wait, that’s not possible, is it?
Karen is strong, a little rash at times and gets the work done – by any means necessary. She’s struggling to come in terms with her lover’s death. The man responsible for his death is being released from prison – this opens Karen’s unhealed wounds. But work comes first. Karen must divert her mind and try to solve the case Dog Biscuit (her boss) has ordered her to.
Daisy is a workaholic but knows how to divide her time between rest (whenever possible) and work. When she and Karen go in search of a certain somebody (revealing their name would make this review a spoiler), Daisy makes sure they get enough breaks for food and coffee. Karen is impressed with Daisy.
I absolutely loved the writing. The mysteries kept me hooked on until the end. The twist just before the ending was mind-blowing. I did not see that coming!
This book seemed a little lengthier than the ones I usually read but that didn’t stop me from enjoying it. Like I said before, this might have been my first McDermid read but it surely ain’t the last.
If you are a mystery lover, I highly recommend you to read Still Life by Val McDermid. We also have a mention or two of the ongoing pandemic. The story ends with Karen and Daisy and all the other police officers going on a work-from-home/lockdown situation.
Many thanks to Grove Atlantic for the ARC. This is my honest and unbiased opinion.