cover image 1989


Val McDermid. Atlantic Monthly, $27 (432p) ISBN 978-0-8021-6010-2

McDermid’s stellar sequel to 2021’s 1979 finds Allie Burns, now a seasoned journalist, removed from her investigative post at Glasgow’s Clarion by its narcissistic owner to a post in Manchester, England. Resentful, she begins to rethink her future in journalism. After one of her best friends needlessly dies of AIDS, Allie determines to reveal what pharmaceutical companies are withholding from dying patients desperate for a drug that will prevent HIV from turning into AIDS. When Allie hears about labs in East Berlin having success with new drugs, she flies to West Germany to interview a scientist she thinks can help her, Colin Corcoran. Colin gets Allie past the East Berlin checkpoints and into the offices where classified information is stored. The catch is that she must swap identities with Colin’s girlfriend so the girlfriend can escape East Berlin. In a heart-pounding episode, Allie is caught by the fearsome Stasi police. McDermid creates a vivid sense of doom in these scenes, which will stun readers. Allie’s girlfriend, Rona, introduced in 1979, has grown into a marvelous character now integral to this powerful, addictive series. McDermid is writing at the top of her game. Agent: Jane Gregory, David Higham Assoc. (U.K.). (Oct.)