A Darker Domain Hardcover – 1 Sep 2008
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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
‘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 SundaySee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
The way the book links 2 seemingly unrelated cold cases is very well done and the book is well written.
The first plot follows the reporting of miner Mick Prentice as missing by his daughter - 23 years after he disppeared, presumed to be a scab.
The second plot covers a kidnapping that happened around the same time (22 years ago) in which the daughter and grandson of a wealthy business man were held to ransom and the daughter was subsequently killed.
The first half of this book had me gripped and I found it thoroughly enjoyable, the plot was sound and I could relate to the characters.
However, I have 2 main problems with this book. By the time I was half way through I had figured out the ending, I persevered in the hope that I was wrong and there would be an unexpected twist. There wasn't.
My second problem was the ending in itself, it was very rushed with the loose ends all being tied up very quickly (within a few pages) and in a very unimaginative way.
The first half of this book was brilliant and makes me see what a talented writer Val McDermid could be (and probably is in other books). The last half was too predictable for my liking and the ending left me disappointed.
In fact, for the majority of the book it represents the author at her best: the characters are believable, the dialogue convincing and the plot gripping. The story concerns two cold cases which originated within a few weeks of each other at the end of 1984 and beginning of 1985. One is the disappearance of a striking miner, the other is the kidnapping of the daughter and grandson of a wealthy and influential businessman. Gradually new evidence is uncovered which suggests there may have been a link between the two events, and it's up to DI Karen Pirie and journalist Bel Richmond to uncover the long-buried truth. The Miners Strike forms a backdrop to the story; Val McDermid grew up in a mining community and her passionate anger as she describes the hardships suffered brings home just how devastating the consequences were for the miners and their families. It all adds up to a rich, thought-provoking read.
However, a couple of major flaws emerge towards the end.Read more ›
By Val McDermid
Paperback, $15.95, 271 pp.
Reviewed by Gloria Feit
The "darker domain" of the title is the world of the coal miner. The author comes by her knowledge of that world almost genetically, as both of her grandfathers were coal miners.
One story line arises out of the national miners' strike in the UK, coincidentally something I, living in the US and not familiar with that struggle, had just seen brought to creative life in the current theatrical staging of Billy Elliot. At the height of the hardships and tensions engendered by the lingering strike, Mick Prentice, for reasons best known to himself, leaves his wife and children alone and ostracized in their community, giving his family "instant pariah status." Nine months into the strike, he was one of six men who "disappeared [apparently] . . . to Nottingham to join the blacklegs," i.e., strikebreakers. Mick's daughter Michelle ("Misha") Gibson files a missing persons report with Karen Pirie, DI and head of the Cold Case Review Team of the Fife Constabulary in Scotland. Though her mother had received money from time to time, postmarked from Nottingham but with no return address on the envelopes, a search following a present family crisis has made Misha aware of the fact that her father has well and truly disappeared. She tells Karen: "Take it from me, Inspector. He's not where he's supposed to be. He never was. And I need him found.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Just getting underway but just what I wanted. Arrived early allowing me to start early.Published 23 days ago by Al B
I love Val McDermid and have read her books for 25 years or more. Whilst I enjoyed 'A Darker Domain', I don't think that it's one of her best. Read morePublished 2 months ago by boingboing
Belle Richards discovered something that would surely boost her journalistic career to the next level. She was dreaming of it becoming the next big story. Read morePublished 2 months ago by D. Coto
A consumate author - excellent story line - fast paced and thrilling! Really enjoyed it - characters were totally plausible and identifiable. Another good read. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Helen Mackenzie
Very good story lines which keeps you interested. I like the way the writer has structured the two stories and made the reading and layout easy to followPublished 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
Enjoyable read, some of characters seemed a bit stereotypical. Not the page turning roller coaster of Wire in the blood.Published 6 months ago by chickendaisy