Review: Broken Ground by Val McDermid

51m2bhw8ytxl-_sx332_bo1204203200_What do coffee shops, Nazi looting and bog bodies have in common?

They all add layers to the latest Karen Pirie novel from international bestselling, multi award-winning author Val McDermid.

In Broken Ground, Karen Pirie is still grieving the loss of her partner, Phil Parhatka, when she’s thrown a curve ball. Her boss, ACC Ann Markie, sends a new cop to join her team as a way of spying on her. As she struggles to manage the new addition to her unit, guess her boss’s motives and stay one step ahead of her, she finds herself pulled into situations that ultimately threaten her career.

The discovery of a body in a peat bog seems like a reasonable thing for a cop to investigate, but as part of Scotland’s Historic Cases Unit (HCU) Karen isn’t usually on scene to examine a murder victim. However, when Dr. River Wilde calls her to tell her about the victim that’s been recovered, Karen heads straight for Clashstronach and finds herself under fire from her boss for agitating the local police and not following chain of command.

While her new team member is secretly reporting her every move to Markie, Karen manages to find herself in more hot water when she stops in at a favorite coffee shop and overhears a discussion she decides to address. A woman who alleges her husband has assaulted her is planning to confront him at the family home and Karen cautions that this might not be a good idea. Those aren’t her only concerns and when the situation turns deadly, Markie learns about Karen’s peripheral involvement and tries to use it against her.

Karen must navigate office politics, identify a victim and find their killer, while addressing her own guilt about how she handled the situation at the coffee shop. Meanwhile, the man who owns the property where the body was found is worth a second look, and Karen struggles to determine whether or not she can trust him… and whether or not she might be ready for a second chance at love.

There’s a lot going on in Val McDermid’s latest novel. I’ve never read a novel by McDermid that I haven’t enjoyed and Broken Ground is a compelling addition to McDermid’s impressive list of publishing credits. This is one part thriller, one part suspense, one part procedural and all character. The intensity builds as the story progresses and the core plot never gets in the way of Karen’s growth and personal journey. All the key elements to a great story combine in perfect measure and kept me turning pages late into the night because McDermid has delivered, yet again, an unputdownable read. Want to read a damn good crime fiction thriller? Pre-order now. Fans of Scottish crime fiction, fans of police procedurals, fans of strong female protagonists and fans of stories with a bit of a historical twist all have something to champion with Broken Ground. And fans of Val McDermid can rest assured that she’s at the top of her game with her latest offering.