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Karen Pirie Books in Order: How to read Val McDermid’s series?

Karen Pirie Books in Order: How to read Val McDermid’s series?
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From Val McDermid, the author of Tony Hill/Carol Jordan series.

Who is Karen Pirie?

Karen Pirie is just one of crime writer Val McDermid’s iconic characters, with Tony Hill/Carol Jordan, Kate Brannigan, and Lindsay Gordon.

Karen Pirie is a young Scottish detective who is promoted to Police Scotland’s Historic Cases Unit and her career in this department begins with reopening the investigation into the murder of a teenage barmaid that has been the subject of a provocative true-crime podcast.

There is now a Karen Pirie TV Show written by Emer Kenny starring Lauren Lyle launched in September 2022 on the British TV channel ITV.

Karen Pirie Books in Order:

Every book in the Karen Pirie series works as a standalone story, but the lives of the different characters evolve from one novel to the other.


  1. The Distant Echo – Four drunken students stumble upon the body of a woman in the snow and became the only suspects. Twenty-five years later the police mount a ‘cold case’ review of Rosie’s unsolved murder and the four are still suspects. But when two of them die in suspicious circumstances, it seems that someone is pursuing their own brand of justice.
  2. A Darker Domain – Twenty-five years ago, a woman and her baby son were kidnapped and held for ransom. Catriona Grant ended up dead and little Adam’s fate has remained a mystery ever since. When a new clue is discovered in a deserted Tuscan villa – along with grisly evidence of a recent murder – cold case expert DI Karen Pirie is assigned to follow the trail.
  3. The Skeleton Road – When a skeleton is discovered hidden at the top of a crumbling, gothic building in Edinburgh, Detective Chief Inspector Karen Pirie is faced with the unenviable task of identifying the bones. As Karen’s investigation gathers momentum, she is drawn deeper into a dark world of intrigue and betrayal.


  1. Out of Bounds – When a teenage joyrider crashes a stolen car and ends up in a coma, a routine DNA test could be the key to unlocking the mystery of a twenty-year-old murder inquiry. Meanwhile, Karen finds herself irresistibly drawn to another case, one that she has no business investigating. And as she pieces together decades-old evidence, Karen discovers the most dangerous kinds of secrets. Secrets that someone is willing to kill for.
  2. Broken Ground – When a body is discovered in the remote depths of the Highlands, DCI Karen Pirie finds herself in the right place at the right time. Unearthed with someone’s long-buried inheritance, the victim seems to belong to the distant past – until new evidence suggests otherwise, and Karen is called in to unravel a case where nothing is as it seems.
  3. Still Life – On a freezing winter morning, fishermen pull a body from the sea. It is quickly discovered that the dead man was the prime suspect in a decade-old investigation when a prominent civil servant disappeared without a trace. DCI Karen Pirie was the last detective to review the file and is drawn into a sinister world of betrayal and dark secrets.


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