Daily Express

1979 Val McDermid


Sphere, £20

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.

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