A Darker Domain, By Val McDermid

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The Independent Culture

DI Karen Pirie, head of the Cold Case Review Team, Fife, is assigned to re-open a 25-year-old case: the daughter and grandson of the richest man in Scotland were kidnapped, the daughter killed and the grandson never seen again. New evidence from Tuscany has brought the case back to life. At the same time, she's busy investigating another case – she's not supposed to, but guess what, she does things her way – concerning a miner who disappeared during the miners' strike.

It's perhaps no great surprise that these two turn out to be intimately connected, but McDermid has plenty of other surprises up her sleeve. The story is cleverly told, cutting back and forth from Scotland to Italy, the present day to the 1980s; and McDermid's style is smoothly readable. Entertaining from beginning to end, it's ideal for the beach or hotel balcony. The only drawback is that McDermid likes her heroine a bit too much. Dumpy and unglamorous on the outside, but sexy and with a razor-sharp mind, DI Pirie is very much a creature of wish fulfilment.