Still Life (Inspector Karen Pirie #6)
From internationally bestselling author Val McDermid comes a propulsive new Karen Pirie thriller that delves into a historic missing persons case, fake identities, and art forgery.Val McDermid is the award-winning, international bestselling author of more than thirty novels and has been hailed as Britain’s Queen of Crime. In Still Life, McDermid returns to her propulsive series featuring DCI Karen Pirie, who finds herself investigating the shadowy world of forgery, where things are never what they seem.When a lobster fisherman discovers a dead body in Scotland’s Firth of Forth, Karen is called into investigate. She quickly discovers that the case will require untangling a complicated web—including a historic disappearance, art forgery, and secret identities—that seems to orbit around a painting copyist who can mimic anyone from Holbein to Hockney. Meanwhile, a traffic crash leads to the discovery of a skeleton in a suburban garage. Needless to say, Karen has her plate full. Meanwhile, the man responsible for the death of the love of her life is being released from prison, reopening old wounds just as she was getting back on her feet.Tightly plotted and intensely gripping, Still Life is Val McDermid at her best, and new and longtime readers alike will delight in the latest addition to this superior series.

Still Life (Inspector Karen Pirie #6) Details

TitleStill Life (Inspector Karen Pirie #6)
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseOct 6th, 2020
PublisherAtlantic Monthly Press
ISBN-139780802157447
Rating
GenreMystery, Crime, Cultural, Scotland, Fiction, Thriller, European Literature, British Literature

Still Life (Inspector Karen Pirie #6) Review

  • Matt
    January 1, 1970
    First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Val McDermid, and Grove Atlantic for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.Happy to return to Scotland for another DCI Karen Pirie procedural, I look to Val McDermid, whose storytelling is second to none. In a jam-packed story with more twists that even I could have predicted, McDermid spins a tale that will keep readers guessing throughout. When a body is fished out of the water, a First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Val McDermid, and Grove Atlantic for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.Happy to return to Scotland for another DCI Karen Pirie procedural, I look to Val McDermid, whose storytelling is second to none. In a jam-packed story with more twists that even I could have predicted, McDermid spins a tale that will keep readers guessing throughout. When a body is fished out of the water, a call to the local police brings DS Daisy Mortimer to the scene. After checking for identification, DS Mortimer learns that the victim appears to be a French citizen and begins her inquiries. The plot thickens when she learns that the man was not Paul Allard, as previously thought, but James Auld. Things take an even more interesting turn when Auld is known to be the prime suspect in his brother’s death, a high-ranking bureaucrat at the Scottish Office in London. All this sounds like a case for the Historic Cases Unit and DCI Karen Pirie. As she tries to sort out her complicated personal life, DCI Pirie is called to consult on another case, one where skeletal remains were found in the back of a camper van of a woman who died in an accident a few years before. While she seeks to put all the pieces together there, DCI Pirie is handed the Allard/Auld case and agrees to work alongside DS Mortimer. The case sees them head to Paris to get a little background on the victim, where they learn that Auld had been living off the radar after tiring of all the accusations back home. After discovering some photographs that do not make sense, Pirie and Mortimer return to Scotland and work the case from that angle, touching base with the victim’s former sister-in-law. While this is taking place, the bones in the other investigation are seemingly identified and the case takes a turn towards a commune where the victim and her girlfriend spent some time, though they are said to have left while they were both alive and well. Rumours swirl around that there could have been a case of presumed identity, but the facts are still too circumstantial at this point. While Pirie and Mortimer work the Auld case, DC Jason Murray handles the skeleton case and chases down a lead on his own. With both cases gaining momentum, a twist or two will leave all those involved wondering what they might have missed and how two killers could get away with murder. A formidable addition to the series that kept me wanting more with each chapter. Recommended to those who are fans of Val McDermid and this series, as well as those who love a good police procedural.When it comes to reading novels by Val McDermid, the reader must make a pledge to stick it out until the end. This is not only because her books are long, but there is so much going on that it is not until the last chapter that all finally comes together. DCI Karen Pirie returns for her sixth case and she has not lost any of her lustre since the series started. Still trying to find the balance between work and personal life, Pirie struggles to make the pieces come together. Her personal life is strained throughout the book, which is revealed in moments when the action is less intense. However, she doesn’t let this deter her from cracking on and getting to the heart of the cases before her. Pirie may be work focussed, but she is not one to miss the small things, which help solve crimes and keep the Historic Cases Unit on the map. The addition of DS Daisy Mortimer was key to this novel’s success. A great cop in her own right, Mortimer is learning from the best when she is paired with Pirie. The reader sees a great deal of her work ethic in the novel, with glimpses of personal backstory. One can only wonder if Mortimer will make her way over to Historic Cases, as she seems keen to be where the ‘real action’ tends to find itself. The handful of other characters add a wonderful depth to the story and kept me reading, if only to see how some of them would develop throughout the tale. McDermid mixes the Scottish flavouring of this novel with a few other locales and creates the perfect mix, with characters to match. The story itself was captivating and held my attention throughout. McDermid is able to write in such a way that both cases receive much attention and neither pushes the other out of the way. With a number of key twists, the story moves in directions one might not have first presumed, which only adds to the mystery and wonderment as the reader delves deeper. A sprinkling of politics, the art world, and even some international travel all keep the story full of action until the final reveal. I can only hope there is more DCI Pirie to come, as this was surely one of the best police procedurals I have read in a long while.Kudos, Madam McDermid, for a stellar piece of writing. I am happy to see you still have it and keep your fans buzzing with excitement.Love/hate the review? An ever-growing collection of others appears at: http://pecheyponderings.wordpress.com/A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/...
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  • Adrian Dooley
    January 1, 1970
    So this is not only my first read in this series, its my first read by Val McDermid! Having finished it Im annoyed with myself that its taken me this long to discover her work.The spiel: When a body is pulled from the sea by some fishermen it is quickly discovered that the dead man was the prime suspect in a murder 10 years ago. DCI Karen Pirie was the last to review the legacy case(her specialty)a couple of years ago. She is given the cases from her superior but she has a lot on her plate as it So this is not only my first read in this series, its my first read by Val McDermid! Having finished it Im annoyed with myself that its taken me this long to discover her work.The spiel: When a body is pulled from the sea by some fishermen it is quickly discovered that the dead man was the prime suspect in a murder 10 years ago. DCI Karen Pirie was the last to review the legacy case(her specialty)a couple of years ago. She is given the cases from her superior but she has a lot on her plate as it is, as she is already investigating a skeleton being discovered in a camper van in the garage of a house.As she investigates both, she is drawn into a murky world of secrets, deception and lies. I really enjoyed this one and I`m only sorry I havent read any others in the series. I really liked Karen as a character and indeed enjoyed all the characters here. It worked fine as a stand alone read but there is a lot of reference to back stories which I obviously wasnt familiar with and I really want to read the rest of the series now to investigate further.The story is quite a complicated one but somehow the author manages to make it easy to follow. There is quite a large cast of characters, loads of story threads and yet I never once found myself going back a few pages to check who was who or what exactly was happening. The book just flowed beautifully.Id highly recommend this one and I`m now off to seek out the rest of the series.One last thing! I found myself heading to the fridge for snacks regularly reading this book. The characters spend a lot of time eating and meeting in restaurants and I have to admit, I found myself salivating more than once as I was reading about the food. That Indian food sounded devine! Many thanks to Netgalley, Grove Atlantic and Val McDermid for an ARC in excahnge for an honest review.
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  • Kasa Cotugno
    January 1, 1970
    Any time a new book by Val McDermid appears, there is reason to rejoice, but this time she delivers an astounding feat: welcome to the first thriller written during Covid-19 Lockdown incorporating current events seamlessly into the plotline. She is a magician in her tight plotting, extraordinary set up, clear prose and spot on characterization as DCI Karen Pirie of Edinburgh's Historic Cases Unit (cold case) works to solve two greatly dissimilar, original jobs. McDermid slyly introduces the firs Any time a new book by Val McDermid appears, there is reason to rejoice, but this time she delivers an astounding feat: welcome to the first thriller written during Covid-19 Lockdown incorporating current events seamlessly into the plotline. She is a magician in her tight plotting, extraordinary set up, clear prose and spot on characterization as DCI Karen Pirie of Edinburgh's Historic Cases Unit (cold case) works to solve two greatly dissimilar, original jobs. McDermid slyly introduces the first whiff of pandemic danger in an almost throw-away fashion, but her incorporation of distinct dates makes the reader breathe a bit more shallowly as the date of lockdown approaches. International borders have been crossed, allowing McDermid to instruct on procedures that are shifting thanks to the thankless backlash of Brexit, and the differences between Dutch, French and Irish protocols as they pertain to extradition to Scotland. I read her books because there is so much to chew on besides the crackling good stories she weaves, but always because I go away having learned something.
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  • Gary
    January 1, 1970
    This is the 6th book in the Karen Pirie series by author Val McDermid.DCI Karen Pirie is called on to revisit one of her old cases when a fishermen pulls a body from the sea. The dead man was the prime suspect in an old investigation, when a prominent civil servant disappeared without trace. DCI Karen Pirie was the last detective to review the file and is drawn into a sinister world of betrayal and dark secrets.With Karen already struggling on another case where a skeleton has been discovered in This is the 6th book in the Karen Pirie series by author Val McDermid.DCI Karen Pirie is called on to revisit one of her old cases when a fishermen pulls a body from the sea. The dead man was the prime suspect in an old investigation, when a prominent civil servant disappeared without trace. DCI Karen Pirie was the last detective to review the file and is drawn into a sinister world of betrayal and dark secrets.With Karen already struggling on another case where a skeleton has been discovered in an abandoned camper van the pressure is on. Everything is pointing to a killer who was never arrested and still on the loose. Karen encounters a network of lies and secrets that must be In her search for the truth, Karen uncovers a network of lies that has gone unchallenged for years. Of all the Val McDermid series this one is my favourite and loved this book from start to finish. The characters are so strong. plots well crafted and expertly paced and there is never a dull moment.I would like to thank both Net Galley and Grove Atlantic for supplying a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Meredith
    January 1, 1970
    “The passage of time turns straightforward murders into convoluted journeys.” Still Life is a straightforward and satisfying mystery/police procedural that focuses on two missing person cases that lead Karen Pirie and team to the black market of the art world. This is book 6 in the Karen Pirie series, but can easily be read as a standalone.This book delves into two mysteries. Clues and witnesses have Karen traveling to Paris and Ireland. One case involves a dead body found in a van in a woman’s “The passage of time turns straightforward murders into convoluted journeys.” Still Life is a straightforward and satisfying mystery/police procedural that focuses on two missing person cases that lead Karen Pirie and team to the black market of the art world. This is book 6 in the Karen Pirie series, but can easily be read as a standalone.This book delves into two mysteries. Clues and witnesses have Karen traveling to Paris and Ireland. One case involves a dead body found in a van in a woman’s garage. The other is the murder of a man whose brother went missing 10 years ago. The cases are not connected, but both are easy to follow and are equally interesting. I love this series and Val McDermid’s writing. There are no crazy plot twists or convoluted events. McDermid writes well-developed characters and plots that are always interesting. There are still some surprises, but none are outlandish. The mysteries are solved and all questions are answered and resolved. Everything makes sense, and I never shake my head or roll my eyes while reading a Karen Pirie book! I find it fascinating that Karen Pirie has a reputation for being crazy. She is strong, intelligent, and determined, and far from crazy. She has gone through some horrible traumas, but despite them, she is even more grounded. She has little drama in her life, and even her romantic life is straightforward. In addition to Karen's character, there is also Jason, “The Mint,” whom I love. This installment also introduces some new characters, including Daisy, a young sergeant who has a lot of promise and meshes well with Karen. This is the first book I have read that mentions COVID. By the end of the book, Scotland is about to go on lockdown with Karen preparing to work from home. Due to the impending virus, the ending is dark, but the idea of Karen’s determination to survive left me feeling hopeful. I can’t wait to see how she will solve cases during the Pandemic. I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Wendy
    January 1, 1970
    Val Mcdermid has been called one of the queens of crime fiction. Not sure why I haven't read more of her work, but after this book, that's going to change. This is the 6th book of the DCI Karen Pirie series. She's tasked with investigating a skeleton found in a van parked in a dead women's garage. Then, when a body was fished out of the waters, it was discovered that he's the brother of a missing Scottish civil servant. He's also the primary suspect in the disappearance 10 years ago. Karen is as Val Mcdermid has been called one of the queens of crime fiction. Not sure why I haven't read more of her work, but after this book, that's going to change. This is the 6th book of the DCI Karen Pirie series. She's tasked with investigating a skeleton found in a van parked in a dead women's garage. Then, when a body was fished out of the waters, it was discovered that he's the brother of a missing Scottish civil servant. He's also the primary suspect in the disappearance 10 years ago. Karen is asked to investigate this disappearance, too. Both cases are very interesting and both have their twists and turns. I enjoy Karen as a character. She is complex but not morose. Sure there's personal issues in her life but she's still out there trying to solve these mysteries. The result is a book that I find hard to put down. Also, this book is set in the present day (2020) and we see the pandemic rearing its head near the end of the book. Very timely, indeed. **Thank you to Atlantic Monthly Press and NetGalley for providing me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.**
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  • Maranda
    January 1, 1970
    I love a good crime drama and I enjoyed McDermid's Broken Ground which is Inspector Karen Pirie #5. This Still Life installment just left me uninterested in the plot and the characters alike. Think there was just too much going on for my tastes. "A copy of this book was provided by Atlantic Monthly Press via NetGalley with no requirements for a review. Comments here are my honest opinion."
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  • Jennifer (JC-S)
    January 1, 1970
    ‘Their first catch of the day was a drowned man.’One freezing winter’s morning, fishermen pull a body from the Firth of Forth. The body belongs to a man who was the prime suspect in a case, ten years earlier, when a prominent civil servant went missing. DCI Karen Pirie, of Police Scotland’s Historic Cases Unit, was the last detective to review that case, and is asked to investigate. There is another case DCI Pirie is working on: a skeleton had been found in a campervan, by a woman clearing her s ‘Their first catch of the day was a drowned man.’One freezing winter’s morning, fishermen pull a body from the Firth of Forth. The body belongs to a man who was the prime suspect in a case, ten years earlier, when a prominent civil servant went missing. DCI Karen Pirie, of Police Scotland’s Historic Cases Unit, was the last detective to review that case, and is asked to investigate. There is another case DCI Pirie is working on: a skeleton had been found in a campervan, by a woman clearing her sister’s home after the sister died – who does it belong to, and how did they die? And, at the same time, the person responsible for the death of the man Karen loved has just been released from prison. How will Karen react? How will she navigate the personal issues to manage the professional ones?Both cases are intriguing. There is a political angle associated with the body retrieved from the sea: the missing civil servant has never been found, and the man whose body has been found has an interesting past. It soon becomes clear that he was murdered. But by whom, and why?The answers in both cases lead Karen and her team (DC Jason Murray and DS Daisy Mortimer, who is co-opted) through a complicated web of secret identities, missing people, and art forgeries. The more the team digs, the more complex the cases seem to become. But Karen sees something, which, while it takes her a while to realise its significance, enables her to find answers.A tightly plotted, gripping read. While I have read and enjoyed many of Ms McDermid’s novels, this is my first novel in the DCI Karen Pirie series. As this is the sixth novel in the series, I have at least five other great reads to look forward to.Highly recommended.Note: My thanks to NetGalley and Grove Atlantic for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes. Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    4.5*I've been looking forward to reading the next instalment in Val McDermid's excellent D.C.I Karen Pirie series, so picked up my ARC of Still Life with high expectations. I'm pleased to report that the high standard readers have come to expect from McDermid is maintained with this latest release.Edinburgh-based D.C.I. Karen Pirie and her off-sider D.C. Jason "The Mint" Murray form the small but effective Police Scotland Historic Cases Unit, focussed on investigating and reviewing "cold cases". 4.5*I've been looking forward to reading the next instalment in Val McDermid's excellent D.C.I Karen Pirie series, so picked up my ARC of Still Life with high expectations. I'm pleased to report that the high standard readers have come to expect from McDermid is maintained with this latest release.Edinburgh-based D.C.I. Karen Pirie and her off-sider D.C. Jason "The Mint" Murray form the small but effective Police Scotland Historic Cases Unit, focussed on investigating and reviewing "cold cases". The HCU is called in when skeletonised remains are discovered in an unregistered VW Van parked in the garage of a Perth woman killed in a car accident. The ongoing investigation takes Murray across the border into northern England, in pursuit of a clever and furtive suspect.Meanwhile, D.C.I. Charlie Todd's Fife-based crime squad is investigating the discovery of a body in the Firth of Forth by a lobster boat out of St. Monans. When putative identification of the corpse indicates a link to the high-profile disappearance a decade ago of a senior civil servant in the Scottish government, the case is reassigned to the HCU by autocratic ACC (Crime), Ann "The Dog Biscuit" Markie. Todd's young but smart D.S., Daisy Mortimer, is also temporarily reassigned to assist D.C.I. Pirie. Their investigations take them to Paris, London, Eire and Northern Island, following the trail of altered identities, complicated relationships and missing artworks.The two separate storylines are skilfully plotted and cleverly intertwined by McDermid, maintaining the interest of the reader in both investigations as they progress. While one outcome is substantially more surprising than the other, both are satisfying, while perhaps pushing at the limits of belief. As always, McDermid's characterisations, of both continuing, new and supporting characters are complex and convincing. D.S. Daisy Mortimer is a breath of fresh air and an excellent foil for the often prickly D.C.I. Pirie. D.C. Jason Murray remains as steadfastly loyal as ever, although the opportunity to use his own initiative as Pirie's attention is spread over both cases does lead him into some difficulty.The author's extensive knowledge and understanding of forensic science and digital technology, together with her evident depth of research, translate into the inclusion of various technical details throughout the course of the criminal investigations. She presents this material in a format that is stimulating and accessible to readers and yet doesn't bog down the story in protracted explanations.Another high-quality and engrossing instalment in a great series, although would also read well as a standalone for those not yet familiar with McDermid's substantial body of work. Very highly recommended.My thanks to the author, Grove Atlantic and Netgalley for the opportunity to read and review an ARC of this title.
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  • Lorraine
    January 1, 1970
    This was an excellent story. Karen Pirie (a character I've come to like a lot) has got a new case - a woman clearing her sister's house shortly after the sister's accidental death finds a van in the garage. The van contains a skeleton, and this classifies it as a historic case. Karen and Jason are happily working away on the case when the supervisor, aka The Dog Biscuit, wants Karen to take on another case. A lobster boat near Fife was pulling up a trap and found a man's body tangled in the rope This was an excellent story. Karen Pirie (a character I've come to like a lot) has got a new case - a woman clearing her sister's house shortly after the sister's accidental death finds a van in the garage. The van contains a skeleton, and this classifies it as a historic case. Karen and Jason are happily working away on the case when the supervisor, aka The Dog Biscuit, wants Karen to take on another case. A lobster boat near Fife was pulling up a trap and found a man's body tangled in the ropes. He turns out to be the brother of a man who had died ten years before, a case that Karen had examined but couldn't find any more clues to the man's death - his body was never recovered. Now Karen is sent to Paris to check out the drowned man's life there - he was a jazz musician with a French passport and a French name, as well as British ones. This was a complicated and involved case and solving it took several weeks but it ends satisfactorily. Karen is a star!This book was written during COVID lockdown and this is mentioned in the Acknowledgements at the end.I am grateful to NetGalley for an advance copy of this book, a great read.
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  • Joyce
    January 1, 1970
    480 pages5 starsDCI Karen Pirie has quickly become my favorite character to spring from Ms. McDermid's creative mind. Karen and her partner, Jason have their hands full in this, the latest in the Karen Pirie series. It all begins with a body that is retrieved in a fishing net and a skeleton found inside a camper van. Unknown identities, forgery, broken hearts and outright lies feature in this book. Karen is still at odds with her immediate boss and the man who carelessly ran into Phil, Karen's l 480 pages5 starsDCI Karen Pirie has quickly become my favorite character to spring from Ms. McDermid's creative mind. Karen and her partner, Jason have their hands full in this, the latest in the Karen Pirie series. It all begins with a body that is retrieved in a fishing net and a skeleton found inside a camper van. Unknown identities, forgery, broken hearts and outright lies feature in this book. Karen is still at odds with her immediate boss and the man who carelessly ran into Phil, Karen's love, is getting out of prison. Her plate is full, but with the aid of her team and a collection of forensic friends, she motors on. Her young sidekick Jason gets into trouble. This is a superbly written and plotted novel, as are all of Ms. McDermid's offerings. I like Karen. She seems so human. I really felt what she was feeling as the author's descriptions are so very apt and spot on. I was traveling in the car with the protagonist and a witness to the shenanigans of the wrong do'ers. I loved the assertive manner with which she handled the French detectives and her interrogation of one of the suspects was sheer genius. More please, Ms. McDermid !. I want to thank NetGalley and Grove Atlantic/Atlantic Monthly Press for forwarding to me a copy of this most remarkable book for me to read, enjoy and review.
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  • Susanne Gulde
    January 1, 1970
    I received a digital review copy from the publisher through NetGalley. The book is scheduled to be published October 6th in the U.S.This is a book I couldn't put down, but didn't want it to end...you know what I mean.I love the characters, which includes some new police along with the previous cast. The plot is riveting, complex without losing me along the way. There is so much to appreciate in this book, I will give a more detailed review when it is published.In the meantime, if you want more e I received a digital review copy from the publisher through NetGalley. The book is scheduled to be published October 6th in the U.S.This is a book I couldn't put down, but didn't want it to end...you know what I mean.I love the characters, which includes some new police along with the previous cast. The plot is riveting, complex without losing me along the way. There is so much to appreciate in this book, I will give a more detailed review when it is published.In the meantime, if you want more entertainment from Val McDermid, watch her on YouTube "Cooking the Books" on the Jo Sharp channel.
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  • Jen
    January 1, 1970
    Still Life was written during the Covid lock down (because what else is a writer going to do when quarantined?). Val McDermid remains high on my list of authors I never want to miss, and aside from her settings (I love Scotland), her engrossing characters and plots keep me coming back. The Tony Hill/Carol Jordan and the Karen Pirie series are favorites, but she also has plenty of standalones, and a couple of nonfiction books, including Forensics: The Anatomy of Crime that I intend to read some d Still Life was written during the Covid lock down (because what else is a writer going to do when quarantined?). Val McDermid remains high on my list of authors I never want to miss, and aside from her settings (I love Scotland), her engrossing characters and plots keep me coming back. The Tony Hill/Carol Jordan and the Karen Pirie series are favorites, but she also has plenty of standalones, and a couple of nonfiction books, including Forensics: The Anatomy of Crime that I intend to read some day.Still Life has cold case DCI Karen Pirie involved in two cases. A traffic accident ends up revealing a skeleton in a van in a garage that has been there for at least ten years. As Karen and Jason investigate, they believe the body belongs to one of two women. However, in the midst of this investigation, Karen is then sent to the Firth of Forth where a body has been discovered--connected to another cold case. Juggling two cases, Karen must also deal with the release from prison of the man who killed her lover. As usual, McDermid writes an absorbing tale with characters who have decided personalities of their own. Jason Murray, Karen's DC, is gaining confidence and is a loyal subordinate, and a new and interesting character is Daisy, who shows promise for future books.In the last chapter, after both cases have been wrapped up, comes the change that has affected us all: the virus "that had been a whisper on the wind" as Karen, Jason, and Daisy investigated "had taken firm root in Scotland." All three "were warned of the lockdown that was to begin in the morning. They'd be working from home, whatever that meant in practice." What a conclusion. The case wrapped up, but their lives on hold.I'm hoping McDermid will write a book dealing with Karen's team and crime during lockdown.Read in June; blog review scheduled for Sept. 6.NetGalley/GroveAtlanticPolice Procedural/Cold Case. Oct. 6, 2020. Print length: 448 pages.
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  • Deborah
    January 1, 1970
    It's great to see DCI Karen Pirie and her cold case underling DC Jason Murray back again in Still Life, the sixth in the series by Val McDermid.Here Pirie's Historic Case Unit team (of two) is paired with an inexperienced crime squad in Fife when a new murder has ties to a past crime.I particularly enjoyed the introduction of DS Daisy Mortimer from the crime squad. She's keen to learn and I appreciated the honest 'we're-in-over-our-heads-and-happy-for-help' approach with which McDermid portrays It's great to see DCI Karen Pirie and her cold case underling DC Jason Murray back again in Still Life, the sixth in the series by Val McDermid.Here Pirie's Historic Case Unit team (of two) is paired with an inexperienced crime squad in Fife when a new murder has ties to a past crime.I particularly enjoyed the introduction of DS Daisy Mortimer from the crime squad. She's keen to learn and I appreciated the honest 'we're-in-over-our-heads-and-happy-for-help' approach with which McDermid portrays her and her boss Charlie. Rather than any petty rivalry cos that bastard-ry and competitiveness between cops can get a bit old.Read my review here: https://www.debbish.com/books-literat...
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  • fleurette
    January 1, 1970
    Thanks to NetGalley and Grove Atlantic for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
  • Elaine Tomasso
    January 1, 1970
    I would like to thank Netgalley and Grove Atlantic for an advance copy of Still Life, the sixth novel to feature DCI Karen Pirie of Police Scotland’s Historic Cases Unit.Karen is grappling with the case of a skeleton found in a camper van in a garage in suburban Perth when she is asked to get involved in a recent murder after a body is pulled from the sea. The victim was the prime suspect in the disappearance and presumed murder of his brother ten years previously and he’s not just any brother, I would like to thank Netgalley and Grove Atlantic for an advance copy of Still Life, the sixth novel to feature DCI Karen Pirie of Police Scotland’s Historic Cases Unit.Karen is grappling with the case of a skeleton found in a camper van in a garage in suburban Perth when she is asked to get involved in a recent murder after a body is pulled from the sea. The victim was the prime suspect in the disappearance and presumed murder of his brother ten years previously and he’s not just any brother, he was a high flying civil servant in the Scottish Office and Karen was the last person to review his case thus the best person to investigate, given the potential political angle.I thoroughly enjoyed Still Life, which is a great read that held my attention throughout to the extent that I read it in one sitting. It is told entirely from the investigative point of view, mostly Karen but occasionally her assistant DC Jason Murray or co-opted DS Daisy Mortimer when they’re allowed to step out on their own. This is good as it gets the reader immersed in the investigations and gives them no hint of the surprises in store. The camper van case is slightly more straightforward than the murdered man one but it still holds some twists and turns. The murdered man case is just amazing in the way Ms McDermid takes a relatively simple scenario, a dead man pulled from the sea, and builds it into a huge international case with so many attached crimes. I’m in awe of her skill and was hanging on to every word. I’d love to expand on these rather vague descriptions of the cases and dissect the detail but anything more specific would involve spoilers and it’s too good to spoil anyone’s read.Karen Pirie is one of my favourite detectives, perhaps because she’s so identifiably Scottish. Yes, she uses some Scottish words but not enough to make her meaning unclear so I think it’s more a case of attitude. She stands no nonsense from either her colleagues or perpetrators but has a real soft spot for her bagman, Jason. She has a keen sense of justice and a mind devious enough to enforce it when the going gets tough. Still Life is a great read that I have no hesitation in recommending.
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  • Pgchuis
    January 1, 1970
    I received a copy of this novel from the publisher via NetGalley.Well, that was topical - it ends with the characters going into Covid 19 lockdown... But, before that, the cold case unit investigates the discovery of skeletonised remains in a camper van in the garage of a woman who has just died in a road traffic accident. A separate team investigates the death of a man with two names, and this turns out to be linked to a 10-year old disappearance and so Karen takes over that case too. There is I received a copy of this novel from the publisher via NetGalley.Well, that was topical - it ends with the characters going into Covid 19 lockdown... But, before that, the cold case unit investigates the discovery of skeletonised remains in a camper van in the garage of a woman who has just died in a road traffic accident. A separate team investigates the death of a man with two names, and this turns out to be linked to a 10-year old disappearance and so Karen takes over that case too. There is an awful lot of travel in this novel, with characters commenting on how Brexit will make all this sort of thing more difficult.This was excellent: Daisy, who comes into the cold case unit via the second case, is a promising new character, and Jason continues to delight. I was glad the author saw no need to have the two cases miraculously turn out to be connected - they were both plenty twisty and complicated enough. I had a frustrating few chapters where no one was able to work out the meaning of the notes on the back of the photo hidden in the book (you'll know when you get to that bit), since I had recognized them immediately. Thank goodness for Hamish!
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  • David Lowther
    January 1, 1970
    Hands up if you agree with me that Val McDermid is Britain's top crime writer. I certainly believe that, narrowly ahead of Ian Rankin, Peter Robinson and Peter James. I'd say that only Michael Connolly edges her on a world scale. Karen Pirie is the main character in Still Life. She's a very capable DCI who has a strong team around her and pursues villains like a dog with a bone. Here, she's trying to solve two historical cases and struggling with both, much to the displeasure of her odious boss. Hands up if you agree with me that Val McDermid is Britain's top crime writer. I certainly believe that, narrowly ahead of Ian Rankin, Peter Robinson and Peter James. I'd say that only Michael Connolly edges her on a world scale. Karen Pirie is the main character in Still Life. She's a very capable DCI who has a strong team around her and pursues villains like a dog with a bone. Here, she's trying to solve two historical cases and struggling with both, much to the displeasure of her odious boss.The plot(s) are credible and the characters fascinating but, at the heart of it all is the vulnerable Karen, one of GB crime's most lovable coppers.David Lowther. Author of The Blue Pencil, Liberating Belsen, Two Families at War and The Summer of '39, all published by Sacristy Press.
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  • Andrea
    January 1, 1970
    My reading mojo returned in spades for the first time since March 2020 with this superb read from a virtuoso of crime fiction. Val McDermid effortlessly weaves twin stories together with fantastic characters and plot lines. Coupled the with the usual team members including the Mint and the welcome addition of Daisy Mortimer. So clever to include reference to the current pandemic too. I hope there are more adventures in the offing for Karen Pirie (and Tony Hill/Carol Jordan).
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  • Sharon C
    January 1, 1970
    I was late to the I Love Val McDermid party, but I'm all-in now! I love her writing style and her ability to weave an intriguing story, Still Life is the latest addition to her Karen Pirie series, which is probably my favorite. For those new to the series, no worries, this reads perfectly well as a stand-alone thanks to McDermid's intermittent character recaps.In Still Life, Karen Pirie is working on two cases. The first is the case of an unidentified skeleton found in an RV in the garage of a w I was late to the I Love Val McDermid party, but I'm all-in now! I love her writing style and her ability to weave an intriguing story, Still Life is the latest addition to her Karen Pirie series, which is probably my favorite. For those new to the series, no worries, this reads perfectly well as a stand-alone thanks to McDermid's intermittent character recaps.In Still Life, Karen Pirie is working on two cases. The first is the case of an unidentified skeleton found in an RV in the garage of a woman who was recently killed in a car accident. She's working this case with her loyal lieutenant, the personable Jason Murray. This case is relatively straight-forward once they narrow down the identity of the skeleton to one of two women. The second case is far more complex. Instead of her usual cold cases, Pirie is tasked with a fresh homicide. The deceased is Paul Allard, aka James Auld. Auld happens to be a person of interest in a ten-year-old case which involves the disappearance and probably homicide of his brother Iain, who was a senior civil servant with the Scottish government. This case takes myriad twists and turns. My only frustration was that it took Pirie too long to figure out what I thought was pretty obvious early on. For this case, Pirie is working with a delightful new character, Daisy Mortimer.The Auld case takes Pirie from Scotland to Paris to Caen to Ireland. It's a complicated case and great fun for the reader. And talk about being timely. The novel ends just as COVID-19 shuts down Europe and all the detectives have to figure out how to navigate mysteries from home! I enjoyed every page and highly recommend Still Life.Thanks to NetGalley and Atlantic Monthly Press for providing me a digital ARC in exchange for an honest review. Still Life is scheduled for publication in October 2020, and I'm already looking forward to the next book in the series.
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  • Tracy Wood
    January 1, 1970
    Scotland in mid February 2020 was a cold grey place and being assigned to work two cases at once means DCI Karen Pirie and DC Jason Murray of the Historical Crimes Unit are busier than usual. A skeleton in a garage is definitely within their remit, and they hit the ground running to try to get an identity and cause of death. The body fished out of the Firth of Forth is not theirs until it is linked to a case from a decade earlier and they are charged with getting results in double quick time. On Scotland in mid February 2020 was a cold grey place and being assigned to work two cases at once means DCI Karen Pirie and DC Jason Murray of the Historical Crimes Unit are busier than usual. A skeleton in a garage is definitely within their remit, and they hit the ground running to try to get an identity and cause of death. The body fished out of the Firth of Forth is not theirs until it is linked to a case from a decade earlier and they are charged with getting results in double quick time. Once again Val Mcdermid has woven a tale as complex and compulsive as her readers have come to expect. There is, this time, less urgency in some parts of the story portraying instead a first class example of how the information required is gathered, interpreted and presented while in others the need for expediency in painfully clear. As Karen and Jason spend their working life trying to solve cases which have been left at the bottom of the pile a new detective, DS Daisy Mortimer, is introduced. Seconded from Fife she is an interesting addition to the dynamic within the HCU and I hope she reappears at a later date. This is the second book I have read recently which has at least mentioned the Coronavirus. This time as a potential disruption and, as in the other book, by Ed James, adds a realism which somehow seems lost if the author writes in the relevant timeframe and ignores it. As either an aside or main plotline atm Covid works and it will be interesting to see how it works as a reminder in years to come how things were in 2020 but from a fictional standpoint. I was able to read an advanced copy of this book thanks to NetGalley and the publishers in exchange for an unbiased review and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys this author's work. It is of the exceptionally high standard we have come to expect and shows Ms Mcdermid is still at the top of her game. Long may it continue.
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  • Mary Picken
    January 1, 1970
    I’ve read and really enjoyed all the Karen Pirie books to date, but none as much as this one. The stars seemed to have aligned for Still Life and the prose in this novel flows like a sparkling stream with dazzling flashes of light as the sun bounces off the water.It’s a pre-Covid19 novel, but only just, and McDermid uses the lightest of fleeting touches to acknowledge what’s coming, which makes this book feel bang up to date, without burdening us with the awfulness of the actuality, which feels I’ve read and really enjoyed all the Karen Pirie books to date, but none as much as this one. The stars seemed to have aligned for Still Life and the prose in this novel flows like a sparkling stream with dazzling flashes of light as the sun bounces off the water.It’s a pre-Covid19 novel, but only just, and McDermid uses the lightest of fleeting touches to acknowledge what’s coming, which makes this book feel bang up to date, without burdening us with the awfulness of the actuality, which feels spot on to me.DCI Karen Pirie has two cases to deal with in this novel, both with an artistic element to them. The first is the case of a skeleton found in a camper van in the garage of a douce Perth house, hidden under a tarpaulin.The owner has recently died; she lived alone, her partner, an artist, having left her for another woman some years ago. Karen and the lovely but slightly dim but utterly loyal D.C. Jason ‘The Mint’ Murray are investigating when Karen’s boss, the fearsome Chief Inspector Merkle (or The Dog Biscuit as she is universally known at Gayfield Square station) decides to also hand her this month’s hot potato.The body of a man has been found in the Firth of Forth and it looks like murder. Not a cold case, Karen protests, but it transpires that although the deceased lived in France and was a French national, he has links to the disappearance of a senior Scotland Office civil servant who vanished ten years ago, so there may be political fall-out from this one. The Dog Biscuit is deeming it a cold case and putting it into Karen’s jurisdiction for that reason.Karen is still enjoying her relationship with the affluent hipster, Hamish though she still isn’t able to give herself 100% to that relationship. It isn’t helped by the release of her partner Phil’s killer from prison.As Jason takes point on the Perth case, chasing down leads on two women, Karen recruits the rather splendid DS Daisy Mortimer from Fife Police to go with her to France to find out more about their jazz loving dead French national.I loved the breadth of knowledge that McDermid displays in this book. It’s fascinating to learn about aspects of forensic pathology and technical wizardry which is so important for solving cases and McDermid uses her extensive contacts and knowledge of in this field to add layers and depth to her investigations.The cases are interesting and nicely complex. The danger that runs through the book feels real and so there is a nice tension that unsettles the reader as much as it engrosses. The banter is top notch and it feels as if Karen’s team is coming together really well now. I adore the way that Edinburgh comes to life as Karen makes her way from her favourite Syrian café to other equally delicious eating places. McDermid always builds in a smattering of what’s going on in Scotland and the world alongside some pithy commentary and that puts the reader in the same frame as Pirie, adding to the authenticity.I love that Pirie stands up for her team, but also for herself. She won’t let herself be riled or cowed by Merkle and she is committed to making sure Hamish knows exactly where she stands as far as he is concerned.I have come to admire Pirie and would want her as a friend. That she feels quite so three dimensional is a testament to McDermid’s characterisation and I’m bit of a fan girl as a result. As the cases reach their conclusion we are on the eve of lockdown. What’s next for Karen Pirie? I can’t wait to find out!Verdict: In a beautifully plotted and very well told tale, Karen, Daisy and Jason put together the solutions to two murders in journeys which take them from Perth to Stockport and Fife to France and Ireland with a few Brexit barbs built in. A well-paced, flowing narrative entertains and propels and this is a novel I’d unhesitatingly recommend.
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  • Jane
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 starsDetective Sergeant Daisy Mortimer was transferred less than six months to the Fife-based crime squad. Before that, she’d been in a general CID office in Falkirk.Her boss, DCI Charlie Todd called to inform her that a lobster boat out of St Monans pulled a body out of the sea. Judging by the body, the victim been brutally attacked and thrown into the sea to drown.The detectives head off to investigate. Detective Daisy manages to track down the man’s identity through the French Ministry of 4.5 starsDetective Sergeant Daisy Mortimer was transferred less than six months to the Fife-based crime squad. Before that, she’d been in a general CID office in Falkirk.Her boss, DCI Charlie Todd called to inform her that a lobster boat out of St Monans pulled a body out of the sea. Judging by the body, the victim been brutally attacked and thrown into the sea to drown.The detectives head off to investigate. Detective Daisy manages to track down the man’s identity through the French Ministry of the Interior.The victim was a UK citizen named James Auld until two years ago when he became officially a French citizen called Paul Allard. He lived in Paris. He assumed the false name to join the French Foreign Legion. Using the police database, Daisy uncovers more about Paul’s background. Ten years ago, James’s brother, Iain Auld disappeared without a trace. He was civil servant in Scotland. The night before he went missing, a neighbor heard the brothers having an altercation. So when Iain disappears and a bloodstained T-shirt is discovered in the basement of James’s flat, James becomes a person of interest in his brother’s disappearance. Though, there were no sufficient evidence to charge James with and soon he’s later released. Unable to bear police scrutiny and the pressure of being tagged a suspect, James flees the UK to France. There, he joins a music band in Paris and then signs up for the French Foreign Legion.So why did he come back after all this time? Meanwhile, a woman named Stella Leiter is sorting out the belongings of her late sister, Susan Leiter when she stumbles on skeletal remains in a VW camper in her sister’s garage. The flat tires of the van suggest the van has been sitting there for a while. To the best of Stella’s knowledge, her sister doesn’t own a car much less a camper. So Stella calls the police who seeing as its a cold case reach out to DCI Karen Pirie of Police Scotland’s Historic Cases Unit, She’s working with her partner, DC Jason Murray.Back at Fife, Assistant Chief Constable (Crime) Ann Markie interrupts Detectives Charlie and Daisy’s investigation by informing them that she’d be assigning DC Karen to lead on this case. Turns out Karen reviewed Iain’s file two years ago though she didn’t make any headway.ACC Ann Markie then assigns Detective Daisy to work with Detective Karen. Their first task would be to visit James Auld’s apartment in Paris. Daisy happens to have studied French and Legal Studies so her skill set would be useful during their trip. In Paris, they find evidence in James’s apartment that point them in the right direction. As Detective Karen digs deeper, more evidence comes to light and soon they uncover links between a fire incident in an art gallery, Iain’s disappearance and possibly James’s death. Detective Karen has to find the killer and understand the mystery that surrounded the Auld brothers.Meanwhile Karen’s been seeing a guy named Hamish, a croftier and owner of several chaos of hipster coffee establishments in Edinburgh. Hamish comes across as overly sweet, and Karen finds his kindness a bit too stifling to her liking. Perhaps he’s trying to compete with her late boyfriend Phil. Karen thinks she’s not ready to commit fully in their relationship. Moreover, Karen thinks Hamish was being intrusive when she discovered he followed her to meet the man responsible for Phil’s death the day he was being released from prison. Hamish insists he was only there to make sure she didn’t do anything rash. Her closest friends think she should try and work things out with Hamish.Solid detective story. Highly recommend Thank you to NetGalley, Val McDermid, and Grove Atlantic for an ARC of this book.
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  • David Prestidge
    January 1, 1970
    Still Life sees the return of Val McDermid’s DCI Karen Pirie for her sixth case. For readers new to the series, Pirie is tough, intuitive and compassionate – qualities which stand her in good stead as leader of the Historic Crimes Unit. She has her vulnerable side, and it is never more obvious than when she contemplates the emotional scars inflicted by the murder of her former colleague and lover Phil Parhatka. In the previous book, Broken Ground, she met Hamish Mackenzie, a wealthy businessman Still Life sees the return of Val McDermid’s DCI Karen Pirie for her sixth case. For readers new to the series, Pirie is tough, intuitive and compassionate – qualities which stand her in good stead as leader of the Historic Crimes Unit. She has her vulnerable side, and it is never more obvious than when she contemplates the emotional scars inflicted by the murder of her former colleague and lover Phil Parhatka. In the previous book, Broken Ground, she met Hamish Mackenzie, a wealthy businessman and gentleman crofter. They are not completely ‘an item’. For Karen, the jury is still out.McDermid loves nothing better than to juggle plot strands, and here we have two absolute beauties or, should I say, bodies. In the Blue Corner we have the corpse of a male (happily for the police complete with passport in his back pocket) recovered by fisherman tending their lobster pots. In the Red Corner is the desiccated corpse of a woman, discovered in an elderly and tarpaulined camper van, rusting away in a suburban garage.he dead man is quickly identified as the brother of a long-disappeared Scottish public figure. Iain Auld, depending on your cultural terms of reference, did either a Reggie Perrin, John Stonehouse or Lord Lucan a decade earlier. He has officially been declared dead, but Pirie’s antennae are set all of a quiver, as her investigations into Auld’s disappearance have been fruitless.The dead woman? Just as complex and convoluted. She may have been a capriciously talented jewellery designer, neither seen nor heard of for months after a troubled residence in a Highland artists’ commune. Then again, she might be the designer’s lesbian lover, a minor talent in the world of watercolour landscapes.McDermid creates her usual magic in this brilliant police procedural. Yes, all boxes are ticked, including starchy superior police officers, duplicitous figures at the heart of the world of Fine Art, sexual jealousy and crimes passionelle, government corruption and likeable (but slightly gormless) junior coppers. Long time fans of the former director of Raith Rovers FC will know that there is more – so much more. She pulls us into the narrative from page one. We are smitten, hooked, ensnared, trapped in her web – choose your own metaphorVal McDermid is a political person, but she generally wears her views lightly. She cannot restrain herself, however, from having a little dig at her fellow Kirkcaldian Gordon Brown for ‘bottling out’ of an election in 2009 and thus succumbing the following year to a decade or more of rule by the ‘auld enemy’. The lengthy gestation period of novels usually prevents authors from being totally topical, but the final pages of Still Life have DCI Pirie and her crew clearing their desks and preparing for a Covid-19 lockdown. Karen, as we might expect, is made of stern stuff, and she faces an uncertain future with determination:” – people would always need the polis – and even in a pandemic, murder should never go unprosecuted.”
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  • Natasha
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to Val McDermid, Grove Atlantic & NetGalley for giving me an Advanced Reader Copy to read. I am voluntarily reviewing this book and all opinions are my own. Release Date: 6th October 2020.This is the 6th book in the DCI Karen Pirie but can easily be read as a stand-alone. That said, I’ve previously read all of the preceding books in this series and this book has familiar characters and threads of previous storylines woven throughout it. I also think it enhances the story when you under Thank you to Val McDermid, Grove Atlantic & NetGalley for giving me an Advanced Reader Copy to read. I am voluntarily reviewing this book and all opinions are my own. Release Date: 6th October 2020.This is the 6th book in the DCI Karen Pirie but can easily be read as a stand-alone. That said, I’ve previously read all of the preceding books in this series and this book has familiar characters and threads of previous storylines woven throughout it. I also think it enhances the story when you understand their back story, character evolution and depth of relationships from previous books.The story begins with a dead body and the introduction of a new character DS Daisy Mortimer on the case. We are then taken to another case where the Historical Cases Unit are called in, when a skeleton is found. DCI Karen Pirie, head of the Historical Cases Unit is joined by her loyal and trustworthy team member DC Jason “The Mint” Murray. Due to previously working on another cold case that had connections to the active murder that we first encountered, Karen’s Boss decides to make her SIO of both investigations. So Daisy then becomes Karen’s new sidekick in the active murder investigation, whilst Jason continues to work on the skeleton in the van case.For anyone familiar with this Author, her stories are always extremely tightly woven. Like a true master story teller, she weaves a tale that is so full of characters, landscapes and storylines, that at times you wonder where this is all going. Believe me, have patience, enjoy the journey you are being taken on, stick with it, because there are snippets of clues along the way. All of those threads will culminate into the “aha” moment of the “whodunit”. Though if you’re playing close observation, I’m sure you’ll have a theory well before the final reveal.This is also the first book I’ve read this year, that deals with Covid in a realistic way and acknowledges the challenges of 2020.The Author is a gifted writer and all of her books are solid reads. There have been times that I have enjoyed some books more than others in this series. In this instance, In Still Life, is in my opinion, one of the best of the series so far. I enjoyed revisiting with familiar characters, we see Karen come more into her own and move forward, resolving some of her past issues. To me, Jason comes more into his own in this story and despite sharing the side kick status, we come to become more fond of him as he develops in this story. Daisy is a worthy addition to the story, though I wonder whether it will take a few stories in the series to truly warm to her in the same way as Jason. There are enough other new characters to hold interest and carry the story. All in all, for those who are fans of police procedurals, especially female British leads and well spun “whodunnits”, then I highly recommend this story.
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  • David Knights
    January 1, 1970
    DCI Karen Pirie is always a welcome sight for crime-fiction fans, even if her arrival is certainly not welcomed by either villains or her police superiors.Her ability to rub people up the wrong way was one of the reasons she found herself running Scotland's cold case squad with just one fellow officer.But in this novel, just as its predecessors, Pirie will certainly not stay in her box looking through dusty old files and solving historical cases.Cold cases turn decidedly hot when Karen is around DCI Karen Pirie is always a welcome sight for crime-fiction fans, even if her arrival is certainly not welcomed by either villains or her police superiors.Her ability to rub people up the wrong way was one of the reasons she found herself running Scotland's cold case squad with just one fellow officer.But in this novel, just as its predecessors, Pirie will certainly not stay in her box looking through dusty old files and solving historical cases.Cold cases turn decidedly hot when Karen is around, with an even chance of modern-day murders to spice up her investigations.In Still Life she finds herself covering two cases, and acquiring a new colleague in the shape of enthusiastic young detective constable Daisy Mortimer.Daisy as initially part of a team investigating a dead body found in the Firth of Forth by a lobster fisherman.The cops soon discover the dead man was a civil servant in Scotland who disappeared a decade earlier, and with the potential for embarrassing political fallout the expendable Karen is brought in to lead the team.Karen was already busy with another case, looking into the discovery of a skeleton in a campervan found hidden in a garage.Soon Karen's little team is scouring Scotland – and later Ireland, France and northern England – painstakingly following up puzzling clues and interviewing a wide range of suspects and witnesses.While very different, both cases have links to the art world, and and McDermid weaves a complicated web of forgery and secret identities.A novel by Val McDermid is always very readable, and she never short-changes readers, her satisfying stories expertly entwining believable characters and faultless plots.Still Life keeps Pirie in the top ranks of fictional coppers alongside Inspector Banks and Tom Thorne, but it isn't one of the McDermid's best novels.The first half of the book is absorbing rather than gripping, plodding through those clues and interviews while bringing back old friends, and a couple of sub-plots from Karen's personal life don't really go anywhere.Thankfully just past the halfway mark the story gathers steam, the plot strands come together, and you won't be able to put Still Life down till you reach the final page.
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  • Amanda
    January 1, 1970
    I have read most of the Tony Hill / Carol Jordan novels and loved them so I already knew that Val McDermid could write an amazing crime novel! However, Still Life is the first of the Karen Pirie books that I have read so I was really interested to learn about the new characters and how they differ from the other stories. ⠀DCI Karen Pirie works in the Historic Cases Unit. With these types of cases, the crime has already been committed (possibly quite a long time before) so all of the focus is on I have read most of the Tony Hill / Carol Jordan novels and loved them so I already knew that Val McDermid could write an amazing crime novel! However, Still Life is the first of the Karen Pirie books that I have read so I was really interested to learn about the new characters and how they differ from the other stories. ⠀DCI Karen Pirie works in the Historic Cases Unit. With these types of cases, the crime has already been committed (possibly quite a long time before) so all of the focus is on the detectives and their investigative skills, working backwards to solve the murder. This was a really interesting spin on a typical police procedural. I thought Karen was a fantastic character, extremely professional, hard-working and meticulous. She expects everyone else to give the same amount of effort to a case and I definitely wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side of her. When I first realised that there were two cases being investigated in the book, I thought that there would be some kind of link between them. In the end I think that the whole purpose of the two cases was to bring Karen, Jason and Daisy together and set the scene for the trio moving forward.I think this is a great choice as Daisy and Jason would be a great partnership in any potential future books. They are both eager to please and don’t want to do anything that will let Karen down. I get the impression this would make the two of them competitive which would be an interesting storyline.⠀The writing felt very contemporary with references to the current political climate, Brexit and even Covid-19. Towards the end of the book the lockdown measures were beginning to be put into place which sets the scene for a very unique follow up to Still Life. I think it would be fascinating to read the next instalment and see the challenges faced by the police during a pandemic and especially how this affects Karen, Jason and Daisy in the Historical Cases Unit! ⠀Thanks to NetGalley and Grove Atlantic for the opportunity to read an ARC.
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  • Stephanie
    January 1, 1970
    I have a history with Val McDermid, and her wonderful protagonist Detective Chief Inspector Karen Pirie of Police Scotland. Back in 2016, I read and reviewed Out of Bounds by Val McDermid, #4 in the series with this feisty female protagonist. At that time, I said, “I’m not sure why I haven’t read Val McDermid before, or why I wanted to read this one, but I am so glad it happened…McDermid fans may already be familiar with Chief Inspector Karen Pirie of Police Scotland, as Out of Bounds is #4 in t I have a history with Val McDermid, and her wonderful protagonist Detective Chief Inspector Karen Pirie of Police Scotland. Back in 2016, I read and reviewed Out of Bounds by Val McDermid, #4 in the series with this feisty female protagonist. At that time, I said, “I’m not sure why I haven’t read Val McDermid before, or why I wanted to read this one, but I am so glad it happened…McDermid fans may already be familiar with Chief Inspector Karen Pirie of Police Scotland, as Out of Bounds is #4 in the series. I plan to read the first three in the series (The Distant Echo, A Darker Domain, and The Skeleton Road), but this story doesn’t require any prior knowledge, and functions as a standalone novel.” Then, in 2018, I read and reviewed Broken Ground, #5 in the series, and admitted I never got to the first three, but I definitely would since I had really enjoyed #5.Now it is 2020 and now DCI Karen Pirie and the Historic Cases Unit of Police Scotland are back, investigating the discovery of a female skeleton in a campervan parked in the garage of a woman who died following a traffic accident. Around the same time, fishermen find a body as they’re pulling in their catch. The body is identified as being that of James Auld and Karen and DC Jason ‘The Mint’ Murray are brought in to investigate, as James is the brother of another cold case, involving the disappearance of an “important man.” They are joined by DS Daisy Mortimer, who would be a great spinoff character with her own series… It’s a challenge to write anything about books in this series without giving something away, and I don’t do spoilers, so I’ll just say the plotting is terrific, and as usual with Ms McDermid’s books, I learned a few things. Karen’s personal life comes in, but doesn’t take over the story. The characters are incredibly real. I’m so happy I discovered this author! Fans will love it, and there will be many new fans. Five stars.
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  • Fox Cub Books
    January 1, 1970
    I am ashamed to say that not only is this my first book I've read of the DCI Pirie series, it is also my first Val McDermid novel. Judging by the fact that I am Scottish and a huge crime fiction fan, this is just a shocking fact. After reading Still Life, I plan to remedy this asap!!The blurb: On a freezing winter morning, fisherman pull a body from the sea. It is quickly discovered that the dead man was a prime suspect in a decade old investigation, when a prominent civil servant disappeared wi I am ashamed to say that not only is this my first book I've read of the DCI Pirie series, it is also my first Val McDermid novel. Judging by the fact that I am Scottish and a huge crime fiction fan, this is just a shocking fact. After reading Still Life, I plan to remedy this asap!!The blurb: On a freezing winter morning, fisherman pull a body from the sea. It is quickly discovered that the dead man was a prime suspect in a decade old investigation, when a prominent civil servant disappeared without trace. DCI Karen Pirie was the last detective to review the file and is drawn into a sinister world of betrayal and dark secrets.But Karen is already grappling with another case, one with even more questions and fewer answers. A skeleton has been discovered in an abandoned campervan and all clues point to a killer who never faced justice - a killer who is still out there.I found this to be a compelling read, I had to keep turning the page to find out what was going to happen next. There are loads of different characters in the book but the author made it really easy to keep track and follow the story. I enjoyed reading all the social and political references in the book linking the book to the current time. I know Val McDermid passionately supports Scottish Independence and this shown through. Also the references to Brexit but most surprisingly, Covid 19 is mentioned in this book. I know how long publishing can take so I found this quite impressive. As I said, this is the first book I have read in this series so I was lacking in knowledge to the background of characters but McDermid gave me enough information that it didn't put me off.Thank you to #valmcdermid and @tandemcollectiveuk for the #gifted copy in exchange for an honest review. I have loved being part of this readalong.
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  • J Earl
    January 1, 1970
    Still Life (Inspector Karen Pirie, #6) is yet another wonderful novel from Val McDermid. Great plot, wonderful characters, and propulsive prose. What more can you ask for?While this is part of a series (a very good series!) I think it can be read as a standalone without too much problem. You may not fully grasp some of the back and forth but any important things from the past will be discussed in a way that offers a new reader enough information to keep up. That said, I would recommend reading t Still Life (Inspector Karen Pirie, #6) is yet another wonderful novel from Val McDermid. Great plot, wonderful characters, and propulsive prose. What more can you ask for?While this is part of a series (a very good series!) I think it can be read as a standalone without too much problem. You may not fully grasp some of the back and forth but any important things from the past will be discussed in a way that offers a new reader enough information to keep up. That said, I would recommend reading the entire series because, well, it is just that good.The cases here are concurrent yet we aren't sure whether they are connected. Each case is twisty and where it seems like there might crossover we are kept wondering. The plot is as tight as any she has written, and that is saying a lot. Yet even with great stories I find myself returning to McDermid's books because of the characters. They are flawed in very real ways that we can usually relate to, whether from personal experience or through a friend. If you read a book in any of her series' you'll find yourself invested in them and want to not only see how the case resolves but also how each person's life evolves.Ever since I read McDermid's nonfiction book Forensics I find myself thinking back to it when anything in a novel was covered in the book. This is especially true when reading one of her books. Her knowledge of forensic science helps to make her stories that much more believable and realistic.I highly recommend this to readers of police procedurals as well as mysteries. Also, whether you tend toward liking tight plots or well-developed characters, this will satisfy your preference.Reviewed from a copy made available by the publisher via NetGalley.
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