Broken Ground

‘Somebody has been here before us. And he’s still here . . .’

When a body is discovered in the remote depths of the Highlands, DCI Karen Pirie finds herself in the right place at the right time. Unearthed with someone’s long-buried inheritance, the victim seems to belong to the distant past – until new evidence suggests otherwise, and Karen is called in to unravel a case where nothing is as it seems.

It’s not long before an overheard conversation draws Karen into the heart of a different case, however – a shocking crime she thought she’d already prevented. As she inches closer to the twisted truths at the centre of these murders, it becomes clear that she’s dealing with a version of justice terrifyingly different to her own…


Longlisted for the McIlvanney Prize 2019


‘Val McDermid’s DCI Karen Pirie is a realistic figure, rooted in research and acting in accordance with the law. She is one of McDermid’s most appealing sleuths … McDermid writes with warmth and authority, building Karen’s cases with conviction and making the reader root for her in every possible way.  You know you’re in safe hands from the first page.’ N.J.Cooper, BookOxygen

‘This is Val McDermid, so it will be both gripping and unputdownable.’ The Bookseller

‘Pirie is a satisfyingly wry and hard-edged character, and McDermid’s dry tone heightens the growing suspense.’ Barry Forshaw, The Guardian

‘There’s a reason readers around the world look forward to a new book by the ‘queen of crime’ and Val McDermid’s legions of fans will not be disappointed with this one… McDermid never puts a foot wrong. Her prose is so clear and engaging, this is a book that will keep you turning pages. Like Pirie, you will be hungry for just that one more bit of evidence.’ Crime Fiction Lover

‘McDermid’s novels about cold cases have solid plots and fascinating forensic detail.’ Joan Smith, The Sunday Times

‘Karen may have become a series character by accident, but she has grown into a vital one. Broken Ground is another stellar read from McDermid, and further evidence that her “Queen of Crime” status will not be challenged any time soon.’ Louise Fairbairn, Independent

‘Top notch thriller, as you’d expect from Val.’ Love it!

‘… McDermid’s plotting is top-notch. There is nothing more gratifying than watching a master craftswoman at work, and she is on fine form here.’ Alison Food, The Observer

‘This is not the author’s most elaborate plot but her trademark combination of macabre suspense and a light touch keep you reading gratefully.’ Sunday Express

‘Another masterly handling of pace and plot, blended with brilliant characterisation, from the Queen of Crime.’ Deirdre O’Brien, Sunday Mirror

‘The masterly handling of the pace and, plot, blended with brilliant characterisation, show why best-selling writer Val McDermid retains her title of new Queen of Crime.’ The People

‘As always, McDermid’s story lines are as richly layered as her protagonist.’ Publishers Weekly

‘McDermid moves the reader deftly back and forth in time as her dab hand allows the indomitable Pirie to “bring the dead home”.’ Booklist starred review

‘McDermid’s affinity for multilayered plots and complex characters continues to excel in Broken GroundThe Washington Times

‘McDermid’s books are relentlessly excellent, with sympathetically flawed characters, well-crafted storylines, a clever twist or two and crisp dialogue. It’s no wonder she is considered the queen of Scottish crime fiction.’ BookPage

‘McDermid’s Karen Pirie series, now five books strong and charging ahead, is the perfect literature for an era obsessed with cold cases and forensic mysteries. McDermid is a contemporary master of crime and a forensics expert to boot, so there always seems to be a special kick to her Karen Pirie novels.’ CrimeReads