1979 Val McDermid
Before she became the queen of Scottish crime fiction, Val McDermid was a tabloid journalist in Glasgow.
She recently recalled working in a newsroom rife with misogyny back in the late 1970s: “To survive [as a woman], you had to be twice as good as the guys.”
Now, in her 35th novel, McDermid mines her past as she launches her new series. Allie Burns is a young reporter
and desperate to prove herself in the testosterone pit that is the Daily Clarion.
It’s the year of the 1979 devolution referendum and Allie pursues a story involving militant Nationalists.
She also helps fellow reporter Danny Sullivan as he discovers that his brother is involved in a money laundering scam and he puts the pursuit of truth before family loyalty.
Although Allie and Danny place themselves in grave danger, this is not a non-stop suspense novel but a superb evocation of the humiliations and triumphs of being a junior reporter, set against the backdrop of the broken Britain of 1979.
It may not be as nail-biting as the serial killer yarns McDermid is famous for but, thanks to the magic of her storytelling, it’s just as riveting.