“Broken Ground” unfolds with several story lines told separately and then alternating. Some cases are mundane, some historic, and some shocking, but all are interesting, colorful, and refreshing. The adventure begins in 1944, Wester Ross, Scotland as a hole is painfully yet carefully dug in the peat; two large crates are slowly lowered and quietly covered.
Edinburgh Detective Chief Inspector Karen Pirie works Historic Cases because she believes people deserve answers. She provides readers with background information about personal relationships, job dynamics, and friendships as she and her team go about their jobs and everyday activities. They are a unique group with plenty of dedication as well as processional conflicts, tempered by humor, sarcasm, and wit. They have “fun” nicknames such as Dog Biscuit and Mint, and are constantly plagued by “Bloody traffic on the bridge.” The team has several complex cases requiring solid detective work. When a long buried body is discovered buried in a peat bog, they conduct an intense and far-reading investigation, searching through old records, drudging up a past that no one wants to remember, and finding things that were meant to remain hidden.
McDermid also gives readers a feel for Scotland’s unique geography, poetically describing mountains that rise from the plateau and make an abrupt statement; land that sweeps upwards to peaks and ridges, some rounded and gentle, others jagged and savage, and a crisp blue sky with tattered shreds of clouds that enhance every color. Lyric language, unique cadence, and expressive vocabulary make every line exceptional and distinctive.
“Broken Ground” is compelling and beautifully written. I was given a review copy of “Broken Ground” by Val McDermid Atlantic Monthly Press, and Ingram Publisher Services. I now want to get an audio copy just to hear the gorgeous tone and rhythm of the narrative.