Cover Image: Past Lying

Past Lying

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Unfortunately, I was unable to download this book before it was archived and so am leaving this as a review/explanation. I have already bought a copy and will leave a review on places like Amazon, Goodreads, Waterstones, Barnes & Noble, etc, once I've completed it and formed my thoughts on it. Apologies for any inconvenience and thank you for the opportunity.

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I thoroughly enjoyed the first 6 books in the Karen Pirie series, and when #6 ended on the cusp of the Covid lockdowns, I had a bit of trepidation as to where Val McDermid would go with #7. Would she jump right into the thick of lockdown, or would she fast forward to the post-lockdown world, with occasional references to the difficulties of that time? Alas, no time jump for us - she takes us into the thick of the difficulties of that period, not just for the general population, but the particular difficulties for the police, especially those who are investigating cold cases, which many would consider to be "low priority". At times it felt like "Nope, too soon" to be reminded of all the aspects of lockdown. But McDermid does a nice job of balancing a complex mystery with the complexities of that period. An unpublished manuscript seems to have remarkable parallels to a very real missing persons case. Is it all coincidence? Or is there an elaborate plot afoot to frame someone? Karen Pirie and her team need to employ all their tricks to investigate as best they can with the restrictions placed on them. There are a couple of side plots as well that put interesting spins on other issues of the day. Overall I enjoyed it (despite lockdown) - Pirie and her team are fascinating characters and I look forward to the next book in this series.
Thanks to Netgalley and Grove Atlantic for providing a copy for an unbiased review.

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Past Lying is set during the pandemic lockdown and initially I wasn't sure if this would hamper the story. What happens is quite the opposite, the claustrophobic vibe enhances the feel to the investigation. I should have trusted McDermid after all these years! Karen Pirie and her team's historical crimes unit has been effectively put on hiatus due to lockdown. When junior officer Jason gets a call from his contact at the National Archives he's definitely intrigued. A historian has been trawling through the papers and personal documents of a recently deceased famous author. What she finds is a unfinished manuscript with startlingly coincidental aspects to the disappearance of a local student. The question is are they connected and is the deceased author involved. I loved this book. Thank you NetGalley for my advance copy.

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Val McDermid is one of my favorite authors and her Karen Pirie novels make up my favorite of her series. So, I was delighted to start reading this book. 

Past Lying takes place in Scotland during Covid. McDermid brought back painful memories for me of what it was like to live with lockdown (though I was not in Scotland). The pandemic complicates policing due to the many restrictions that are in place. 

There are several plots in these pages. One has to do with a writer who may (or may not) have planned a perfect murder in order to incriminate a fellow novelist. This story line leads to there being a novel within the novel. A second thread has to do with an illegal migrant who risked his life to expose the corruption in his country. A third story has to do with the police officers known as the Mint. His mother is very ill with Covid and in the hospital. What has Jason’s (the Mint) brother been up to?

In addition to the story, McDermid takes the opportunity to talk quite a bit about writers and what they do (at least in this book) to be successful. This may include book signings, courses and responsiveness to what the public wants. In a minor criticism, I did not enjoy this aspect of the book as much as others. 

Readers will welcome spend time catching up on the character’s personal lives. Karen still mourns Phil and has to decide how she feels about Hamish. Daisy may be starting a new relationship. There is also the relationship between the two writers and the wife of one who becomes involved with the other.

I found Past Lying to be a bit slow to get into but then it most definitely took off. Readers of the other novels in the series will surely want to read this. Ms. McDermid will undoubtedly garner some new fans as well.

Many thanks to NetGalley and Grove Atlantic for this title. All opinions are my own.

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Karen Pirie is back!

She is handling a cold case involving crime writers, flanked by her two teammates, whilst navigating Covid rules in the midst of Edinburgh. Fortunately, in this installment we get to see the former Karen back, the one with compassion and emotions for those in need and ruthless for those who break the law. And I'm so glad that I decided to still go on with this series, as the previous book was such a letdown for me. But here, the author did what she does best and it results in a whirlwind of a mystery build on strong and believable characters.,

Setting the scene against the Covid lockdown was smart; it already seems such a long time ago that we were locked in for the sake of greater good. Also smart is a allowing us a peek behind the scene of crime writers, their gossip and their grievances. I actually never thought of writers as a community, just imagining them secluded behind their laptop in a cottage writing grueling stories for our pleasure, we the readers snuggled in a warm sofa with a cup of tea.

Thank you Mrs. McDermid for providing us again with a perfect book for the holidays. I can't wait to read the next installment!

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4 stars-A twist on the Val McDermid type of novel that I am used to. This was a novel within a novel, early on we meet an archive librarian who has a final manuscript of a now deceased crime writer. The story resembles a case of a missing young woman, and tells what exactly may have happened to her. It’s not a whodunit, that’s pretty easy to figure out, but how they investigate the crime that this book is about. There are some very clever details along the way, and I found the fake novel just as enjoyable as the real novel. Definitely a must read for McDermid fans!

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I loved this story set in Edinburgh during the lockdown in 2020. I loved all the twists and turns that DCI Karen Pirie encounters while trying to solve a cold case. I enjoyed getting to know a bit about Jason and Daisy. I really liked that I could figure out the main characters even though I have not read all the books in this series. I could not put the book down. I received a copy of the book from the publisher for a fair and honest opinion that I gave of my own free will.

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I've dipped in and out of the Karen Pirie series over the years but Past Lying is one of my favourites in a while. There's a lot to love about it. It's set during the throes of COVID - in the first lockdown = and McDermid notes at the end the words came later as she tried to recreate that time when things were so surreal. It certainly jolted me back to early 2020 and I'm both surprised how easily that's been 'forgotten' if you like, but also how we all just adopted that life that was foisted upon us at the time - particularly in the early days. I think McDermid does a good job at capturing that fear and uncertainty but also the acceptance that came with it.

I also loved that this book features a writer... well two writers. One dead and one living and a story about a woman who's been murdered that is so frighteningly similar to the disappearance of a woman a year earlier, that it's referred to Pirie's 'Historic' Case team. I'd not remembered the police's adamance that it's not a 'cold' case... that cases are never forgotten or 'cold'.

The answers seem fairly obvious here - a now-dead writer writing about a murder he commits solely to set up another writer who's stolen his wife.... and his success.

But of course things are more complex than thought and I loved the twists McDermid throws in. I also enjoyed the challenge of carrying out an investigation amidst lockdowns and social distancing - interviewing people in parks and the like.

As a complete aside (and really only of interest to me) is that - because I've seen and heard McDermid speak a few times now (in Australia and then in Harrogate recently) I find myself hearing her voice and her accent as I read her words. And sometimes I continued thinking in that accent after I shut down my iPad.

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This is the seventh book in McDermid’s Detective Chief Inspector Karen Pirie series, set in Scotland during the COVID-19 pandemic (more on this later). Pirie is assigned to the Historical Cases Unit - or cold cases as we know them. Lara Hardie, a college student and aspiring author, disappeared a year earlier. Mystery crime writer Jake Stein is dead and his papers have been sent to the National Library where an archivist comes across an unfinished novel which seems to be connected to Lara. The underlying theme of the novel is “how to commit the perfect murder.” The information is passed along to Karen’s team where it becomes the seed for pursuing the investigation - it is during the lockdown so there isn’t much else going on. What follows is a fairly complex story (although there are a couple of story lines that just seem to be page fillers) filled with interesting characters and plenty of false leads and plot twists. Could have been a 5 star rating - but I lived through the pandemic and really do not want to relive it. The only thing the pandemic did for this story was offer a reason why the team could take up the case and to rehash all of the lockdown protocols that drove us all crazy for a couple of years. My thanks to Grove Atlantic and NetGalley for the ARC of this novel.

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Past Lying is another engrossing instalment in Val McDermid's series featuring Edinburgh-based Detective Chief Inspector Karen Pirie.

It's April 2020 and Scotland has been in lockdown for three weeks, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. DCI Karen Pirie is in a domestic "bubble" with her HSU colleague, DS Daisy Mortimer in her partner Hamish's upmarket Edinburgh apartment. DC Jason "the Mint" Murray is in lockdown in the flat he shares with his fiancée.

The team is called in to investigate a possible link between some papers recently donated to the Library of Scotland and a missing person case that is barely historical. A partial manuscript found amongst the papers of recently deceased crime novelist Jake Stein, contains details which are eerily similar to those surrounding the real-life unsolved disappearance of Edinburgh student Lara Hardie a year previously. Other details within the story seem to echo events in Stein’s personal and professional life over the period preceding Lara’s disappearance. Is this simply a case of an author drawing upon real life events interwoven with thinly veiled autobiographical details to create an imaginative story? Or could it be a devilishly clever plot designed to incriminate an innocent party in a real-life crime?

Val McDermid cleverly leverages the circumstances of the Covid-19 lockdowns, with which all readers will be personally familiar to some extent, as a means to further develop her series characters while they're in extremis, and also to add a layer of complexity to the police investigation plotline itself. Past Lying brought to my mind Josephine Tey's 1951 masterpiece The Daughter of Time, and Colin Dexter’s Inspector Morse mystery The Wench is Dead, itself an acknowledged homage to Tey's work, both of which employed a mechanism for the detective protagonist to solve a crime while physically restricted from undertaking the "usual" investigative process.

Past Lying is another high quality police mystery, with a twisty plot and convincing, well-developed characters, both those that have featured throughout the series and those who appear only in this story. McDermid's use of misdirection and intrigue are up to her usual superlative standard, and she draws upon her own decades of experience in the crime-writing community in building the background to the mystery. While the Edinburgh setting is necessarily narrowed in its depiction by the characters' enforced isolation, there remains a distinct Scottish flavour throughout, incorporated through the use of vernacular language, subtle cultural references and the characters' occasional opportunities to leave the confines of lockdown while carrying out essential face-to-face interviews, viewing crime scenes and gathering evidence.

I'd enthusiastically recommend Past Lying to any reader who's enjoyed previous series instalments over the past 20 years, and to those new to either D.I. Karen Pirie or Val McDermid's substantial body of much-lauded work.

My thanks to the author, Queen of Crime Val McDermid, publisher Grove Atlantic, Atlantic Monthly Press, and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this engrossing title.

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EXCERPT: He really believed it was a madcap game. A joke. A dare, played out between old friends. Why would anyone imagine otherwise? Writing twisted scenarios didn't mean he believed they happened in the real world. Strangers on a Train had the brilliant premise of two unconnected people swapping murders, but he didn't believe anybody would be daft enough to try it for real. Not even a card-carrying psychopath like the character in Highsmith's novel.
It had genuinely never crossed his mind that his best friend would actually commit a murder solely to demonstrate that the perfect crime was possible, and that he was capable of committing it. Not until he had to deal with the revelation that there was now a dead body in his garage.

ABOUT 'PAST LYING' (KAREN PIRIE #7): It’s April 2020 and Edinburgh is in lockdown. It would seem like a strange time for a cold case to go hot—the streets all but empty, an hour’s outdoor exercise the maximum allowed—but a mere pandemic doesn’t mean crime takes a holiday. When a source at the National Library contacts DCI Karen Pirie’s team about documents in the archive of a recently deceased crime novelist, it seems it’s game on again. At the center of it, a novel: two crime novelists facing off over a chessboard. But it quickly emerges that their real-life competition is drawing blood. What unspools is a twisted game of betrayal and revenge, and as Karen and her team attempt to disentangle fact from fiction, it becomes clear that their investigation is more complicated than they ever imagined.

MY THOUGHTS: I love books about books or people who write books and the twisted minds of authors. Past Lying is a complex book, but a tense and riveting reading.

Set at the beginning of the Covid lockdown, McDermid uses the eerie emptiness of the streets to great advantage as Pirie stretches the boundaries of the lockdown rules to further her investigation and rescue a refugee.

There is 'a story within a story' as the team read through manuscripts, authors notebooks, and diaries, then struggle to extract fact from fiction in order to catch a killer.

But there is plenty more going on to keep everyone busy and interfere with the investigation: a Syrian refugee whose life is in danger; the Mint's mum contracting Covid and his brother once again running off the rails; the strain of Karen and Daisy living and working together; Daisy's certainty that Karen is up to something that she doesn't want anyone else to know about; and the increasing strain on Karen and Hamish's relationship.

This is a very clever story of lies, manipulation and revenge set in a world where publicity is king, and gossip and scandal the common currency. I loved it.


#PastLying #NetGalley

I: #valmcdermid @groveatlantic

X: @valmcdermid @groveatlantic

THE AUTHOR: Val McDermid, FRSE, FRSL is a Scottish crime writer, best known for a series of novels featuring clinical psychologist Dr. Tony Hill in a grim sub-genre that McDermid and others have identified as Tartan Noir. At Raith Rovers football stadium, a stand has been named after McDermid.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Grove Atlantic via NetGalley for providing a digital ARC of Past Lying by Val McDermid for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

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NOTE: the first paragraph is copied from an earlier (2020) review.

“I have a history with Val McDermid, and her wonderful protagonist Detective Chief Inspector Karen Pirie of Police Scotland. Back in 2016, I read and reviewed Out of Bounds by Val McDermid, #4 in the series with this feisty female protagonist. At that time, I said, “I’m not sure why I haven’t read Val McDermid before, or why I wanted to read this one, but I am so glad it happened…McDermid fans may already be familiar with Chief Inspector Karen Pirie of Police Scotland, as Out of Bounds is #4 in the series. I plan to read the first three in the series (The Distant Echo, A Darker Domain, and The Skeleton Road), but this story doesn’t require any prior knowledge, and functions as a standalone novel.” Then, in 2018, I read and reviewed Broken Ground, #5 in the series, and admitted I never got to the first three, but I definitely would since I had really enjoyed #5.”

So here we are in 2023, and Ms. McDermid has brought another winner! This is #7 in the series and, like prior ones in the series, it functions just fine as a standalone, so if you haven’t yet discovered Chief Inspector Karen Pirie, not to worry! Set in the lockdown era of 2020 in Edinburgh, the story finds Karen enduring lockdown in her boyfriend Hamish’s penthouse, so she isn’t suffering too much…although having invited a co-worker to stay with her, she then has to listen to what feels like nonstop chatter. And although the city is totally locked down, that doesn’t prevent McDermid from writing a superb thriller with a twisty plot and intricately plotted unraveling of the mystery. I may have enjoyed this even more, as I had just returned from San Diego where I fulfilled a long-standing bucket list item by attending Bouchercon, the annual gathering of thousands of crime/mystery writers, readers, bloggers, podcasters, and just plain fans. Great fun! Same goes for this book. Five stars.

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I have read many of Val Mcdermid’s books and enjoyed them ,this one is no exception. This one is slightly different because it is set in the first COVID lockdown. It features DCI Karen Pirie and her team. This is book seven of the series and the first one for me. I don’t think that hindered my reading however it might have spoilt reading the others because I now know what happens to some of the characters. It was a very intriguing mystery that worked well around the COVID restrictions. A manuscript of a recently deceased author has been flagged to the police as having similarities to a real life missing persons case. What follows is a fast paced mystery which keeps the pages turning and the reader guessing . Plenty of twists and turns and as always some gruesome forensic discoveries. There were a lot of COVID references which I can understand why but for me spoilt the enjoyment slightly. I like Karen’s character and definitely want to read more of her.

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I’d like to thank Grove Atlantic and NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to read ‘Past Lying’ written by Val McDermid in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

I appreciate that this ARC I’ve been sent of ‘Past Lying’ is an uncorrected proof but it’s impossible to read on my Kindle in its current format. From the beginning there’s not one complete paragraph and sentences/words are all over the place and although I hoped it was an early blip this is happening all through the book. Such a pity as I was looking forward to reading this latest Val McDermid’s thriller with DCI Karen Pirie of whom I’m a great fan.

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Val McDermid’s DCI Karen Pirie of Scotland Police’s Historic Crime Unit (HCU) is back in this seventh episode of the series. It’s April 2020 and like most of the world, Edinburgh is in lockdown during the early days of the covid 19 pandemic. While Hamish, her boyfriend/partner/lover (she’s really not sure what to call him), is in the highlands looking after his croft, she’s holed up in his apartment with her sergeant, Daisy Mortimer, for company. This way they can still work on reviewing the backlog of historic crimes together without needing to go into the office. Although, now she’s wondering whether it was such a good idea to invite someone she didn’t know well to form a bubble with her, and is very glad she can still escape daily to walk the eerily deserted streets of Edinburgh.

When Karen’s team member, DC Jason Murray, receives a troubling call from his friend Meera, an archivist at the National Library, he passes on her concerns to his boss. Meera has been working on archiving the library’s latest acquisition of manuscripts from Jake Stein, a crime writer who died recently. She’s come across an unfinished manuscript outlining the framing of one crime writer by another for the murder of a young female university student. The problem is that the disappearance of the young woman sounds uncannily like that of female university student Lara Hardie who disappeared almost a year ago and was never found. The fictional writer and his chess-playing friend could easily be fictional versions of Jake himself and his writer friend and chess opponent, Ross McEwan.

Despite the problems of being in lockdown, Karen and her team throw themselves into investigating whether Jake Stein’s unpublished book is based on fact or is pure fiction. It’s a complex case with dates to check, lists of people who attended events to obtain and many re-interviews required (mostly by phone, facetime or zoom) but they all relish the chance to be busy during this strange period of lockdown. They also need to be discrete in keeping the investigation to themselves so that their boss, ACC Ann Markie doesn’t turn it over to the original investigative team.

McDermid is clearly in her element here, writing about crime writers, book events, publishers, the scandals and the gossip that circulate the publishing world. She brilliantly portrays the uncanny silence of the streets of Edinburgh during lockdown and, when Jason’s mother contracts covid, the anguish and heartbreak of those with loved ones dangerously ill in hospital who they cannot visit. As the investigation finds more and more similarities between fact and the manuscript, the suspense rises inexorably. It’s a clever and intriguing case with a gripping ending that is sure to please fans of crime fiction.

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Val McDermid presents a story within a story. When an author’s papers are donated to the National Library, an archivist discovers a manuscript containing a character that closely resembles a young woman who went missing a year earlier. Karen Pirie, the head of the Historic Case Unit, reluctantly agrees to read the manuscript and look for any possible connection. Jake Stein’s characters are obviously based on himself, his wife and Ross, an author on his way up. As Ross comes to the public’s attention and develops a following, Stein is invoked in a scandal that destroys his career. His resentment of Ross grows as his marriage crumbles and he begins to plot Ross’ destruction with a blueprint for the perfect murder.

Past Lying is set at a time when the Covid death rate was rapidly rising. Pirie and her team must investigate while complying with the restrictions imposed by the lockdown. Her concern is for the victim’s family and she is willing to bend some of the rules to bring them answers while keeping her own team safe. The more parallels that she finds between the story and recorded events, the more she believes that they may have found an answer. McDermid introduces a number of twists that will have you questioning what really happened. Her stories never disappoint and this is an emotional ride as Covid touches a member of her team. I would like to thank. NetGalley and Grove Atlantic for providing this book for my review.

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Love Val McDermid but this book had everything going against it for me: it was seventh in a series I hadn't read, and set during the pandemic. But I absolutely loved this story of rival mystery writers, one of whom might have just planned and committee dthe perfect murder to frame the other.

Loved the Edinburgh setting and the pandemic aspect didn't bother me much, but instead made me think about how challenging police work was during that time.

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Could not read and review this because a kindle option was never made available. That's too bad because Im a big fan of McDermid.

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This new Karen Pirie case placed in 2020 when the world had to live in a different way than usual because of the lockdown, kept me glued to my Kindle and forced me to come back to it as soon as I could just to continue reading. The aerie and vivid descriptions of the situation, people struggling with the pandemic, and solving the case in the middle of it were beautifully written by Val McDermid and I thoroughly enjoyed while reading. Can't wait to read the next installment of the series, and the other works by this acclaimed author. Thank you to NetGalley, Val McDermid, and Grove Atlantic for providing me with an ARC of this publication.

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3.5 stars
It was great to spend time with Karen Pirie and the gang, even if it’s in the middle of the Covid pandemic lockdown. I liked how it handled trying to continue investigations with all of the obstacles in their way. When the blurb said that there were many twists and turns, it didn’t lie. I got confused a bit in the middle about all of the epistolary issues (books within books) but it all came together in the end!

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