International best-selling crime writer Val McDermid is one of the most dependable professionals in the mystery and thriller business, whose acutely suspenseful, seamlessly plotted novels have riveted millions of readers worldwide. In her latest, The Skeleton Road, she delivers a gripping standalone novel about a cold case that links to the Balkan Wars of the 1990s.
In the center of historic Edinburgh, builders are preparing to convert a disused Victorian Gothic building into luxury flats. They are understandably surprised to find skeletal remains hidden in a high pinnacle that hasn't been touched by maintenance for years. But who do the bones belong to, and how did they get there? Could the eccentric British pastime of free climbing the outside of buildings play a role? Enter cold case detective Karen Pirie, who gets to work trying to establish the corpse's identity. And when it turns out the bones may be from as far away as the former Yugoslavia, Karen will need to dig deeper than she ever imagined into the tragic history of the Balkans: to war crimes and their consequences, and ultimately to the notion of what justice is and who serves it. The Skeleton Road is an edge-of-your-seat, unforgettable read from one of our finest crime writers.
©2014 Val McDermid (P)2014 Recorded Books
I ignore genre labels. Some of my favorite books are outside my genre comfort zone. Listening to audiobooks is still reading. Not theater.
I quit reading McDermid's Hill/Jordan series after the 2nd book in the series, because I thought there was simply too much gratuitous violence and gore that added nothing to the story, often actually interrupting the flow of the plot, and because the relationship between the two principals seemed forced and unnatural to me. They didn't seem like people that would ever connect on any level - professional or personal. And in a series, if I can't buy into the main characters, it is hard to keep me interested.
But despite the excessive gore and violence and the fact that I didn't like the main characters, I still recognized McDermid's talent. Her attention to detail is amazing. There are no slip ups in character or location detail. And sometimes her prose is quite lyrical. I just think that when she gets stuck in her plot and isn't sure how to move forward, she inserts unnecessary gore and violence.
So I decided to try this book, which is not part of the series. With Davina Porter narrating I figured that even if this book became mired down in violence and gore, her melodious and soothing narration would negate the impact.
And actually, McDermid didn't go too overboard on the violence detail. Plus, I found the discussion about the Balkan wars and Britian's role in mediating the peace and assuring justice very interesting. Unfortunately that is about all I found interesting. This is one of those stories that would have worked well if an editor had cut about a third out of it. It just moved too slow to keep my interest. And I found none of the characters interesting or sympathetic. Everyone either seemed crooked or weak. Porter's narration added nothing to the book, which may be a first, in my opinion.
If you are a McDermid fan I am sure you will appreciate this book. After reading it though I have unequivocally determined that I am not a McDermid fan.
crazy rottie mom
It's always a pleasure to have a Val McDermid book at hand and even more of a treat when Davina Porter narrates.
With Lotsa Love from gaz regn
I tried to listen to this book twice, but just couldn't get through it. It seems out-of-style compared to all the other fabulous books I've listened to by this author, and I found there was no central character that I was rooting for, and the storyline was different (and boring as far as I'm concerned) from any of her previous work.
Overall I liked the book. Seemed to have a slow start. It took me several chapters to get used to the narrator's style and a few more to buy in to the story. It did pick up and I did enjoy the characters and the build up of events. However, it became a little predictable. The parts of the story I wanted more of were glossed over for things that I had figured out in earlier chapters.
Yes. I still enjoyed the read.
The background subject was unique.
Several, but spoilers
Fair enough. I usually enjoy the speech patterns from "across the pond" but this was a little thick for me.
Too much analysis may punch gaps in the logic, but I enjoyed the story. I found the background of Yugoslavia fresh. Val McD always gives a good ride.
Great mystery and humanity story. McDermid has a way of bringing today's world into her mysteries and that way it all feels authentic. This story is about a skeleton discovered with a bullet hole in the head on top of a building that has been abandoned for the past 20 years. It goes to the cold case squad and DCI Karen Pirie is in charge. There is a connection to Oxford and the university and to the Balkan Wars. There are two different investigations under way. One is looking for a vigilante killer of war criminals and another is looking for the killer of the skeleton. As in past books by McDermid, the investigations swerve into each other but don't merge. It is a fast paced and intriguing book. It left me thinking about it long after I finished listening to the marvelous Davina Porter narrate it. It takes place mostly in Scotland but there are side trips to Croatia and to Oxford. If you haven't read McDermid, do yourself a favor and get with it. She has been writing for years. This book is the 4th in her newest series involved Karen Pirie but she has earlier series that I plan to start soon.
Davina Porter is a perfect narrator for Karen Pirie.
Something different from Val Mcdermid, though with a familiar character. A complex and engrossing story, well-narrated. No sugar-coating, tough plot lines, but worth it.
I gave it a 3.5. I wouldn't say it was a waste of time.Yes
Yes. There were parts of the book I liked including the backstory about the war in The Balkans. I also liked the murder investigation.
Davina Porter is one of the best.
There were parts such as the ending which I disliked. Even if revenge is sweet I just couldn't buy the motivations for someone to become a killer; hypocrisy just doesn't cut it unless you are Dante. There are 3 ongoing narratives, one is the main characters' past during the Balkan War, another is a present day murder investigation, and the last is an investigation by a war crimes tribunal trying to find out who their mole is. The tribunal investigation is a weak part of the story. Even though they obviously have a mole they can't even be bothered by it until several of their suspects are murdered by a vigilante. The whole vigilante story line is rather weak and it is not difficult to figure out who this murderer is though the reasons are stupid (they might not get convicted). My main problem is that the motivations of people are unrealistic. 3.5 (less)
Yes I would recommend to a friend. Karen Pirie's investigating techniques are down to earth and technologically advanced. The reader learns the background of the Balkan's in a through a relationship, which made that information more personal and meaningful. I am new to reading Val McDermid but plan to read more and Davina Porter's narration is beautiful.
One of the most memorable moments of The Skeleton Road is hearing the storing of the massacre in Micha's hometown. It is a moment I will never forget.
Absolutely loved Davina Porter's performance.
Yes if had time.
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