Out of Bounds

Written by Val McDermid

Review written by Sara Townsend

Sara-Jayne Townsend is a published crime and horror writer and likes books in which someone dies horribly. She is founder and Chair Person of the T Party Writers’ Group. http://sarajaynetownsend.weebly.com/


Out of Bounds
Little Brown
RRP: £18.99
Released: Aug 25 2016
HBK

Four young joyriders engage in a race from the police in a stolen vehicle that ends in a horrendous crash, with the only survivor seriously injured. A blood test run on him reveals a familial DNA connection to an unsolved rape from many years earlier.

On the same night, a young man with mental health problems is found dead on a bench, after leaving the pub he drinks in most nights. His death is ruled a suicide, and not connected to the death of his mother in a helicopter explosion – allegedly a terrorist attack – twenty years earlier.

Inspector Karen Pirie finds herself involved in investigating three crimes, two of which are old cases. The deeper she digs, the more evasive the truth becomes. And on top of that, Karen is still dealing with grief following the death of the man who was her partner in both a professional and personal capacity.

I have never yet read a Val McDermid book I didn’t enjoy and this one lived up to my expectations. Karen Pirie is a sympathetic character, trying to work her way through her grief while still giving all she can to her police work, and doing her best to work with her new young partner Jason, a character who seems a bit irritating at times, but his naivety and earnestness makes the reader feel, like Karen, that he deserves a chance.

There are three separate plot lines running through the book. The unsolved rape case that is re-opened when a DNA hit is discovered becomes far more complicated when it is revealed that the young joy rider was actually adopted at birth. The death of Gabriel Abbott is not Karen’s case but she becomes convinced that Gabriel’s death is not a suicide, and is connected to his mother’s death twenty years earlier. She is determined to uncover the truth, to find justice for Gabriel and his mother. And in addition, when Karen meets a group of Syrian refugees frustrated about not being able to contribute to the society that has saved them during the nocturnal walks she takes to alleviate her insomnia, she tries to find a way to help them.

You can’t help but like Karen, and her determination to be a champion. Despite her fears that she is being crippled by grief, she is a survivor, and the reader is rooting for her. As a series protagonist, she possesses the perfect blend of strengths and flaws in her character traits, but each book of this series can also be taken as a stand-alone, as there is enough back story to keep the new reader up to speed with past events.

The storytelling is flawless, as always in a Val McDermid novel, with each plot line following a progression of carefully placed clues, to a satisfactory and well wrapped-up ending that neatly ties up all loose ends. Out of Bounds is a masterfully executed crime novel that is a must-read for fans of police procedurals, crime thrillers and Scottish noir.

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