1984. The National miners' strike is dividing the country, and in a struggling coal-mining town, the miners and their families are living at the edge of their resources. They have no money, and there is no food or heating. On the 14th of December, five miners break ranks to travel to Nottingham and work. For those who stay behind, this is an unforgivable betrayal, and the men are branded as scabs. 23 years later, a young woman is asking the police to trace her missing father: miner Mick Prentice vanished, never to be seen again, although money has been sent to his family; he was widely considered to be one of the scabs. Soon, D I Karen Pirie and DS Phil Parharta find themselves investigating a forgotten disappearance.
This is the provocative premise of Val McDermid's latest novel, A Darker Domain, and this utterly compelling book is further proof that McDermid is determined to stretch the parameters of what crime fiction is supposedly capable of. McDermid has always been prepared to freight serious issues into her work, and this novel -- which, in many ways, is an examination of the conditions that produced the Britain we live in today -- demonstrates the continuing high level of her ambition.
In fact, Karen Pirie, when taking on this new assignment, is already involved in a case of kidnapping that took place 22 years earlier (in which a woman was killed during a bungled handover of money). Journalist Bel Richmond makes a startling discovery concerning the MacLennan kidnapping while on holiday in Tuscany, and as the three protagonists dig deeper into ever-more labyrinthine mysteries, they are to make some remarkable discoveries -- discoveries which throw light not just on the crimes involved, but on the whole of British society.
As all of this might suggest, the stakes here are as high as one is likely to find in a crime novel, and Val McDermid demonstrates that she is as capable as ever of integrating the demands of the page-turning crime narrative with a discussion of the things that make society tick. McDermid fans who may be lamenting the fact that this is not another novel featuring Dr Tony Hill will quickly change their minds as A Darker Domain exerts its cobra-like grip. --Barry Forshaw
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
‘An absorbing novel, one of her best’ The Times
‘Val McDermid is a born storyteller… absorbing reading’ Sunday Telegraph
‘A searing piece … McDermid orchestrates the tension with authority… After reading McDermid’s novel, readers may wish that more crime fiction would have the guts to take on serious issues’ Express
‘Torture, warped psyches, unspeakable cellars: Val McDermid sends you to bed with lights blazing’ Sunday Times
‘One of the best modern writers of crime fiction … Excellent’ Scotland on Sunday