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Darker Domain, A Hardcover – Deckle Edge, January 27, 2009


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

When Michelle Gibson reports her father, Mick Prentice, missing at the start of McDermid's intricate but underwhelming stand-alone psychological thriller, Det. Insp. Karen Pirie, head of the Fife police Cold Case Review Team, isn't interested until Michelle reveals that Mick disappeared during the 1984 miners' strike. At the time, everyone believed Mick went scabbing in Nottingham. Later, Karen is summoned to the home of wealthy Sir Broderick Maclennan Grant, whose daughter, Catriona, and baby grandson, Adam, were abducted in 1985. A botched ransom hand-off left Catriona dead and Adam nowhere to be found. New evidence linked to the kidnapping has surfaced, and now Karen has two missing people to locate. McDermid tries to pack too much story into one book, and the connection she draws between the cases feels forced. Fans of the Scottish author may be better off waiting for the next outing of McDermid's series to feature psychologist Tony Hill (The Mermaid Singing, etc.). Author tour. (Feb.)
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From Booklist

McDermid’s latest is a stand-alone set in Fife, Scotland. Detective Inspector Karen Pirie, newly appointed head of the Cold Case squad, has a hard time with desk work, so when a woman reports her father missing and last seen in 1984, Pirie can’t resist. But her boss, a paper pusher known as the Macaroon, wants Karen in the office, at least until Bel, an investigative journalist, turns up new evidence in a 20-year-old heiress kidnap case. As Karen and Bel investigate, friends’ and family members’ memories of the missing people are delivered as flashbacks, resulting in short chapters, multiple viewpoints, and a moderately quick pace. As Karen’s two cases seem to converge, the complex and layered plotlines come together, and McDermid does an excellent job creating tension around a cold case. Sure to be a hit with McDermid’s large fan base, it should also appeal to those who read other Scottish police mysteries, such as Stuart MacBride’s (Flesh House, 2008). Those who enjoyed the cold-case aspect may also enjoy Johan Theorin’s Echoes from the Dead (2008). --Jessica Moyer
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 355 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; First Edition edition (January 27, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061688983
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061688980
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.5 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #887,025 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

A Darker Domain is the third Val McDermid book I've read and it is by far my favorite.
T. J. Mathews
Author Val McDermid's return to the Scotland of her roots feels like a labor of love, and the landscape and history of Fife come to life in her words.
Linda Bulger
Love the plotting, love the plot, love the characters, and the settings are well-drawn as well.
Melanchthon

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Best Of All on December 20, 2008
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Two families torn apart by violence; one that received major headlines and another that only became apparent many years later. They cannot be linked in any way....right?

Author Val McDermid utilizes a dual narrative with a backdrop of the British miner's strike in the 1980s for this psychological thriller that opens old and new wounds in the halls of influence and the rooms of those struggling each day just to make ends meet. Detective Inspector Karen Pirie is the central figure in the search for answers in a missing person's case that only came to many years after the "disappearance" nearly a quarter-century old and the mystery surrounding a kidnapping and murder that could easily carry the moniker of "the crime of the century."

The first involves mineworker Mick Prentice and his decision to travel to Nottingham in search of work; essentially betraying his friends and neighbors in a Scottish town as a "scab" laborer. It is winter - about six months into the strike - and there is little food on most tables and even less fuel for the homes. Prentice does "send" money to his family that stayed behind, but never encloses a note. Fast forward to the present to Prentice's daughter, Michelle Gibson, who desperately needs money - and other vital assistance - for the medical care of her severely ill son. Her quest to find her father yields no trace of him ever arriving in Nottingham.

Journalist Bel Richmond is on the trail of the high-profile case of the heinous kidnapping of the daughter and grandson of multi-millionaire Sir Broderick Grant, which ends in a ransom payment going terribly wrong and culminates in the murder of the woman and the disappearance of the young child.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Cowboy Bill VINE VOICE on May 19, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I started reading Val McDermid's novels featuring Dr. Tony Hill after watching the British T.V. drama "Wire in the Blood," which was initially based on that series of books. Even though those novels supplied more cruelty and gore than I would've normally liked, I enjoyed them overall because McDermid 1) presented interesting characters under unusual pressures and 2) kept the plot moving.

I like her latest, "A Darker Domain," but am not crazy about it, mainly due to the lack of her normal strengths -- interesting characters and narrative drive -- as the book progressed onward to a not-terribly-surprising ending.

This is not a Tony Hill novel but a D.I. Karen Pirie one. The present-day story revolves around two cold cases from the 1980s. The first: the disappearance of a striking (and strike-breaking?) miner; the second: a double kidnapping involving the family of a semi-titan of industry. It becomes evident as the novel progresses that the two cases are in fact tied together, and D.I. Pirie, with the help of reporter Bel Richmond, ultimately solves the puzzle.

I have read that McDermid grew up in a mining family and thus has some insight to share regarding the sufferings of the mining community in 1980s Britain. But it seems she might be too close to the topic as it sometimes gets her off course plot-wise and pulls her occasionally into political (and polemical) areas that don't suit the book.

Overall, I'd say if you like the author's previous works, you'll like this one. If you haven't yet read McDermid, I'd recommend starting with either the first Tony Hill novel, "The Mermaids Singing," or the non-Tony-Hill novel "A Place of Execution," which might just be her best so far.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Linda Bulger VINE VOICE on February 2, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Detective Inspector Karen Pirie runs the Cold Case Review Team in Fife, in the east of Scotland. When a young woman walks in to report that her father went missing twenty-three years ago in 1984, Pirie begins to investigate. Mick Prentice, a miner, was last seen during a bitter miners' strike and it was commonly thought that he'd gone scabbing--but now it's clear that he did not.

The Prentice investigation develops at a good pace for a case so cold. Then another case lands on Karen's desk from the same era: in 1985 a young woman and her infant son were kidnapped for ransom, and in the muddle of the ransom handover the woman was killed and the baby disappeared completely. Now a reporter vacationing in Tuscany has found something that brings the case back to life.

This book works beautifully on many levels. The plot and characters are complex and gratifying. Author Val McDermid's return to the Scotland of her roots feels like a labor of love, and the landscape and history of Fife come to life in her words. Who wants the past revealed, and who wants to cover it up? What will a wealthy but bereft man do to find the grandson who, if he survived, is now a young man? What guilty secrets were played out at the intersection of these two cases, and what was the heavy cost? Will DI Pirie's methods yield the truth, and will it set anyone free? You may guess some of the answers but the moody story is guaranteed to satisfy.

McDermid's leading women are always well-defined, a little gritty, a little tormented. In A Darker Domain: A Novel we find some fascinating men too, many with their own dark secrets and agendas.
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