A Darker Domain, by Val McDermid

Karen Pirie is a police detective working in the cold cases unit (UK version of The Closers I suppose). Within the space of a week, two investigations crop up. First, a woman reports her father, who disappeared over twenty years ago, as missing, and second, fresh evidence emerges relating to a bungled kidnapping - which also took place about twenty years ago. Apart from the dates, there's no obvious connection between the two cases.

I thought this was a fairly weak effort. It's a different genre to the more gruesome stuff in the Tony Hill stories - I suppose it's good that she doesn't get stuck in a rut, but this was just not that gripping. I don't think it was as bad as Killing the Shadows or Report For Murder, but it just felt a bit mechanical: she hadn't made much of an effort to make the plot interesting.

The trigger for the missing person report is that the woman looking for her father has a child who needs a bone marrow transplant or something, for which she needs a blood relative. That might have been OK, but when as the details emerged of her father's disappearance, it became more difficult to believe they'd left it so late before doing anything. Then there were various peculiar aspects of his disappearance which could have made for interesting plot twists but turned out to have cop-out explanations.

And the final denoument felt a bit of a cop-out too: it seemed to me that McDermid had set up some promising situations without having a plan on how they'd be resolved. So it all petered out a bit really.

It was fairly readable, but I wouldn't recommend it.

Completed : 29-May-2009

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