Broken Ground ★★★★
Little Brown, R325
Val McDermid is not known as the Queen of Tartan Noir for nothing — apart from her cleverly crafted plots she serves up fabulously atmospheric settings. In this latest offering we find ourselves deep in the Highland countryside where a body is unearthed from a peat bog. As it has evidently been there so long it falls to DCI Karen Pirie and her historic cases unit to solve the mystery. Pirie, described as “a dumpy wee woman with bad hair and terrible dress sense” is a deliciously grumpy character, given to such observations as “What they needed was support, not some strutting Glasgow keelie who thought he’d been sent to be their saviour.” Rich with idiom and description, this is a satisfying escape.