The Skeleton Road, Paperback Book
3.5 out of 5 (1 rating)


When a skeleton is discovered hidden at the top of a crumbling, gothic building in Edinburgh, Detective Chief Inspector Karen Pirie is faced with the unenviable task of identifying the bones.

As Karen's investigation gathers momentum, she is drawn deeper into a dark world of intrigue and betrayal.

Meanwhile, someone is taking the law into their own hands in the name of justice and revenge -- but when present resentment collides with secrets of the past, the truth is more shocking than anyone could have imagined ...From number one bestseller, Val McDermid comes an atmospheric, spine-chilling tour de force -- her richest and most accomplished psychological thriller to date.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Crime & mystery
  • ISBN: 9780751551280

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This was not Val McDermid's best novel though that still leaves considerable scope for it to be very good, and she (and it) delivered.There are two separate plotlines, one revolving around the discovery of a decayed corpse, with a bullet in the skull, in the attic of an abandoned building in Edinburgh while the other relates to the murder in Crete of a Balkan war criminal. The Edinburgh investigation is led by Detective Chief Inspector Karen Pirie, whose first challenge is to identify the remains and establish when the death might have occurred. McDermid takes us through the forensic aspects with great detail, though never lets her extensive insight into police process to compromise the development of the plot.Meanwhile, two British lawyers working for the International Criminal Tirbunal for the Former Yugoslavia, which has been hunting down, and then seeking to prosecute, alleged war criminals from the Balkan genocides. As the novel opens they find themselves berated by their new boss who is eager for advancement. It emerges that yet another suspected war criminal, who had been tracked down to Crete where he is living a domesticated new life, has been murder by someone taking justice into their own hand. While no-one is distraught at the death of such a man, his death represents the eighth such vigilante killing of a suspect under the scrutiny of the Tribunal, and the boss is anxious to find the leak.McDermid always writes with an honesty and clarity of expression that reflect her own determination that criminals should be apprehended, and that the stable application of law and order, with complete equality before the law, are paramount. She does not, however, allow her protagonists to be too self-righteous, and they are always highly plausible. I felt that this novel was a little over-long, but the plotting is deft and watertight, and the suspense is maintained throughout.

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