The skeleton road

Val McDermid

Book - 2014

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Mystery fiction
New York : Atlantic Monthly Press [2014]
Physical Description
406 pages ; 24 cm
Main Author
Val McDermid (author)
Review by Booklist Review

*Starred Review* The Balkans conflict ended two decades ago, but war-crimes tribunals continue even now, a testament to the scale and barbarity of the atrocities committed; and more than a few novelists have mined the Balkans tragedy for compelling plotlines. McDermid is the latest. DCI Karen Pirie (A Darker Domain, 2008) catches a cold case when a skull is found in an Edinburgh building that has been unused for decades. Forensic wizardry identifies the decedent as Mitja Petrovic, a former general in the Croatian army and the significant other of Oxford professor Maggie Blake. They met and fell in love in Dubrovnik during the Serbian siege of the city. Blake is mystified: Mitja simply vanished from her life eight years before. Investigators for the International Court are also puzzled. They believed Mitja was responsible for the murders of 11 Serbians who were just about to be arrested for war crimes. But Mitja's been decomposing the whole time, and it's up to the determined DCI Pirie to unravel the mystery. The plot is nearly as complex as the Balkans' historical enmities, but McDermid makes it accessible by shifting focus among the brilliantly sketched primary characters. The Skeleton Road is beautifully written, deeply intelligent, carefully researched, and thoroughly compelling.--Gaughan, Thomas Copyright 2014 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission. Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

The discovery of a man's skeleton atop an Edinburgh building slated for demolition kick-starts Diamond Dagger Award-winner McDermid's hit-or-miss follow-up to 2008's A Darker Domain. Det. Chief Insp. Karen Pirie identifies the remains as those of Gen. Dimitar "Mitja" Petrovic, an intelligence expert with ties to the Croatian army, NATO, and the U.N. Karen learns that he had lived for years with Oxford University professor Maggie Blake, who met the general during her time as an academic in Dubrovnik during the Balkan conflict. Maggie, who hasn't seen or heard from Mitja in eight years, always assumed that he returned to Croatia. The answers lie in the past, particularly the bloody Serb-Croat conflict in the 1990s, so it's inevitable that Karen and Maggie end up traveling to Croatia. McDermid does a fine job recreating the brutal Balkan years, but the characters lack depth, leaving readers yearning for the richness of her long-running Tony Hill and Carol Jordan series. Agent: Jane Gregory, Gregory & Company. (Dec.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved Review by Library Journal Review

When a skeleton with a bullet hole in its skull is found in a parapet of an abandoned building in Edinburgh, the case is clearly in DC Karen Pirie's Historic Case Unit's jurisdiction. The body turns out to belong to a Croatian general who worked with the UN War Crimes Tribunal following the Balkan Wars in the 1990s. As a result, Pirie's investigation ranges from Edinburgh and Oxford to Dubrovnik and Sheviningen, and, as it turns out, she is not the only one following the trail or seeking justice for the dead. VERDICT The backdrop of the Balkan Wars result in some unexpected plot twists but also leads to a loftier examination of the morality of vengeance. However, Pirie's humor and tenacity balance the larger issues, introducing a crime novel that is both enjoyable and irresistible. [See Prepub Alert, 4/21/14.] Lisa O'Hara, Univ. of Manitoba Libs., Winnipeg (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. Review by Kirkus Book Review

A grisly discovery atop the roof of a venerable Edinburgh school slated for demolition sends two very different sets of investigators scurrying for answers rooted in the endless conflict between Serbs and Croats. How did an 8-year-old skeleton make it to the roof of the John Drummond School, and whose skeleton is it? The official investigators, DCI Karen Pirie and DC Jason "the Mint" Murray of Police Scotland's Historic Cases Unit, have little to go on till their inquiries about a not-quite-dormant bank account take them to professor Maggie Blake, a geographer at St. Scholastica's College, Oxford, who's still mourning the day eight years ago when Dimitar "Mitja" Petrovic, the Croatian Army lover who'd followed her from Dubrovnik back home, left one morning and never returned. Just as things seem to be clearing up for Karen and the Mint, they're getting even muddier for Alan Macanespie and Theo Proctor, two underachieving drones at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, whose activist new boss, Wilson Cagney, is determined to get them to pull their weight for a change by investigating a yearslong rash of assassinations of ICTFY targets just before they were to be arrested. Macanespie and Proctor, who have considerably fewer scruples than Karen and the Mint about how they do their job, conclude that their killer must be none other than retired Gen. Dimitar Petrovic. Working at ironic cross-purposes, the two investigative teams unwittingly duplicate, complicate and contradict each other's discoveries as they leapfrog over repeated flashbacks to the hellish Dubrovnik landscape to come up, in miraculous synchronicity, with the real killer. This stand-alone from McDermid (Cross and Burn, 2013, etc.) combines conscientious detection with heartfelt reflections on the enduring power of the Yugoslavian breakup to wreak violence long after the 1995 Dayton Accords. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.