A Darker Domain by Val McDermid

‘A Darker Domain’ is the 2nd novel in Val McDermid’s DI Karen Pirie series and in this novel Pirie has a much larger role than in the first novel.

Pirie and her team are working on 2 cold cases in this novel. In 1984 Sir Broderick Maclennan Grant’s daughter Catriona and grandson Adam were kidnapped. The ransom payment was bungled and as a result Catriona was shot dead and Adam was never seen again. Now more than 20 years later, new information has come to light that may lead to the kidnappers and news of Adam. Pirie’s boss has given this case top priority and believes that this is the only case she is working on.

But Pirie has been intrigued by the case of a coal miner who also went missing in 1984 and is only now being reported. When Mick Prentice went missing during the miners’ strikes, the union and his family thought that he went scabbing. His daughter has recently tried to find him where he was thought to have been with no success. Karen Pirie sneaks around her boss to investigate this case as well.

As the cases are methodically progressed by Pirie and her team, Grant sets up his own investigation independently – throwing money around and withholding information from the police. His attempts to find his grandson have disastrous results.

Eventually Pirie finds the solution to both cases which unsurprisingly are related. But due to Grant’s interference the result is a hollow one.

Meanwhile in Pirie’s personal life, her relationship with her 2nd in charge Phil Parkatka starts to develop.


I found this novel very difficult to get into. It was written in such a way as to interleave the past and the present and interleave the two cases. This was confusing at the beginning and I never really got comfortable with it. I also found some of the story a bit predictable.

Still the writing was typically brilliant McDermid and it was good to get to know Karen Pirie and Phil Paratka a bit better.

I have already read the 3rd and 4th novel in this series but I’m hoping that there will be more.


Published 2008


See a full list of books by Val McDermid


Filed under Book Reviews, Detective, Domestic, McDermid, Val, Series Fiction, Thriller

2 Responses to A Darker Domain by Val McDermid

  1. Pingback: The Distant Echo by Val McDermid | Written Gems

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