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A Darker Domain Hardcover – 1 Feb 2009

4.1 out of 5 stars 85 customer reviews

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Hardcover, 1 Feb 2009
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 355 pages
  • Publisher: Harper (Feb. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061688983
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061688980
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 3 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (85 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 6,322,031 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

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.


One of the world's leading mystery writers. --The Observer

Absorbing modern mystery... McDermid's mix of historical and literary clues with modern detection is handled with panache. --The Times --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is the first book I've read by Val McDermid. I've really enjoyed the tv serialisation of Wire In The Blood and finding out Val McDermid was the writer is what led me to her - books are usually better than films/tv adaptations. This book does not feature Tony Hill and is more of a stand alone book - although since reading it I have found it does have a predecessor - I should have read more of the review on here beforehand as I believe the cold cases that this book is based on were featured in the earlier book.

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.
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By Matt TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 5 Sept. 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Val McDermid is best known for her gory serial-killer thrillers featuring Dr Tony Hill, but personally I have always preferred her stand-alone novels such as 'A Place Of Execution.' In these she tones down the violence of her other work and focuses more on the psychology of her characters, which I find far more engrossing than the wince-inducing torture and depravity Tony Hill and Carol Jordan regularly face - although I do enjoy the Hill books too. This, her latest, doesn't altogether count as a stand-alone novel, as it is a sequel of sorts to an earlier book, 'A Distant Echo' (and anyone who intends to read that book should do so before this one, as 'A Darker Domain' reveals its predecessor's ending), but in style and tone this is very much one of her slow-burning psychological thrillers.

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.
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Format: Hardcover
A Darker Domain
By Val McDermid
October 2008
ISBN: 978-0-06-168898-0
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.
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