cover image The Skeleton Road

The Skeleton Road

Val McDermid. Atlantic Monthly, $25 (416p) ISBN 978-0-8021-2309-1

The discovery of a man’s skeleton atop an Edinburgh building slated for demolition kick-starts Diamond Dagger Award–winner McDermid’s hit-or-miss follow-up to 2008’s A Darker Domain. Det. Chief Insp. Karen Pirie identifies the remains as those of Gen. Dimitar “Mitja” Petrovic, an intelligence expert with ties to the Croatian army, NATO, and the U.N. Karen learns that he had lived for years with Oxford University professor Maggie Blake, who met the general during her time as an academic in Dubrovnik during the Balkan conflict. Maggie, who hasn’t seen or heard from Mitja in eight years, always assumed that he returned to Croatia. The answers lie in the past, particularly the bloody Serb-Croat conflict in the 1990s, so it’s inevitable that Karen and Maggie end up traveling to Croatia. McDermid does a fine job recreating the brutal Balkan years, but the characters lack depth, leaving readers yearning for the richness of her long-running Tony Hill and Carol Jordan series. Agent: Jane Gregory, Gregory & Company. (Dec.)