A Darker Domain by Val McDermid

A Darker Domain by Val McDermid

5th March 2021.

Some stories grab you from the start, drawing you in with strong believable characters you root for. Add an intriguing mystery that spans a quarter of a century, going back to the heart of the Miners’ Strike and a murder that has echoes today. Finally, bring in an adversary that’s rich, formidable and determined to find out what happened to his grandson, kidnapped all those years ago.

The narrative flips back and forth between 1984 and 2007, revealing two stories in a level of detail that brings the hardships of the Miners’ Strike to life. One miner, Mick Prentice, disappeared at the time, giving DI Karen Pirie another cold case to investigate. The discovery of a body in caves nearby only adds to the mystery.

At the same time, a daughter and her son were kidnapped and held to ransom. Catriona died and her son disappeared. DI Pirie wants to find him, but a journalist with a nose for a good story is also on the trail.

DI Pirie is a quiet but steely character, fearless in her quest to solve cold cases and bring justice to the victims. Slowly and carefully, she uncovers the pieces and puts them together to get to the truth of what happened twenty-five years ago. And even when she has the truth, there are still a couple of twists to wrong foot you.

This is one of the best and most original crime stories I’ve read for some time. The history, the sense of place and time, the characterisation and plot are first rate and deftly handled by the author to deliver a powerful story of love, sacrifice and murder that lingers in the memory.

While this is the second book in the series, I didn’t feel I’d missed anything by not reading the first book. However, I plan to correct that as soon as possible.


Twenty-five years ago, a woman and her baby son were kidnapped and held to ransom. Catriona Grant ended up dead and little Adam’s fate has remained a mystery ever since.

When a new clue is discovered in a deserted Tuscan villa – along with grisly evidence of a recent murder – cold case expert DI Karen Pirie is assigned to follow the trail.

She’s already working a case from the same year. During the Miners’ Strike of 1984, pit worker Mick Prentice vanished. Where did he really go? And is there a link to the Grant mystery?

The truth is stranger – and far darker – than fiction.

A Darker Domain by Val McDermid

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