If you enjoy reading “tartan noir”, Val McDermid's Karen Pirie series is one worth checking out. The series deals with cold cases in Scotland, and they're perfect for anyone who enjoys a great deal of character and backstory along with their mysteries.
All of Val McDermid's Karen Pirie Book Series in Order
The Karen Pirie series is set in and around St. Andrews in Scotland (a coastal town a bit north of Edinburgh). Though some books take the action away from St. Andrews at times, most of the books are focused on that area.
The area is perhaps best known for it's famous golf courses, but it's also notable for its university. Fans of the British royal family will also note it's the town were Will and Kate attended university together.
Karen Pirie Series, Book 1 | The Distant Echo
In the early hours of the morning, a group of St. Andrews students stumble upon the body of a young woman, Rosie Duff, who's been raped, stabbed, and left for dead in an ancient cemetery. The students appear to be the only suspects.
Twenty-five years later, a cold case review coincides with a new set of murders – this time, someone's targeting the students who found the body all those years earlier. The first dies in a suspicious house fire, and a second is killed soon after. It seems the only thing that can save former student Alex Gilbery is if the original murder is solved.
Karen Pirie Series, Book 2 | A Darker Domain
When a young woman reports her father missing, DI Karen Pirie (head of the Fife police Cold Case Review Team) isn't interested until she learns the man disappeared during the 1984 miners' strike. The case will lead her into deep into two decades' worth of violence, betrayal, and secrets.
Karen Pirie Series, Book 3 | The Skeleton Road
In historic Edinburgh, developers are preparing to turn a Victorian Gothic building into luxury flats. They're not expecting the skeletal remains found within.
Identifying the remains and solving the mystery of their burial will lead cold case detective Karen Pirie to possible war crimes in the former Yugoslavia.
Karen Pirie Series, Book 4 | Out of Bounds
When a teenage joyrider crashes and ends up in a coma, a blood test reveals ties to an unsolved murder from 22 years earlier. It seems like a relatively simple case, but it will prove to be anything but.
At the same time, a grieving Inspector Karen Pirie is drawn to a mystery she shouldn't be touching – one rooted in terrorist activities during the Troubles.
Karen Pirie Series, Book 5 | Broken Ground
In the Highlands, a woman finds a buried treasure…but she also finds a body. While DCI Karen Pirie handles this case, she'll also find herself in the middle of one involving domestic violence.
Karen Pirie Series, Book 6 | Still Life
When a lobster fisherman finds a dead body in the Firth of Forth, DCI Karen Pirie is drawn into a case involving a disappearance, art crimes, and secret identities. At the heart of it lies a talented mimic who seems capable of convincingly copying any painter.
At the same time, she's investigating a traffic accident that's led to the discovery of a body in a suburban garage. On a more personal level, she'll be dealing with the release of a man who brought about the death of someone close to her.
Karen Pirie TV Adaptation
In the not-too-distant future, we can look forward to a Karen Pirie TV series. Emer Kenny (aka Bunty on Father Brown) is writing the adaptation for screen, and its been commissioned by ITV.
It's too soon to know anything about premiere dates or where it might air outside the UK, but it shouldn't be too long before they release more details.
Will There be More Novels in the Karen Pirie Series?
The most recent Karen Pirie book, Still Life, was published fairly recently, in 2020. Though a seventh book hasn't been announced (as of August 2022), there's no reason to think there won't be more in the future.
Author Val McDermid has a number of series going at any one time, so not every series gets a new book every year.