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The Skeleton Road

(Inspector Karen Pirie #3)

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  4,505 ratings  ·  550 reviews
In the center of historic Edinburgh, builders are preparing to convert a disused Victorian Gothic building into luxury flats. They are understandably surprised to find skeletal remains hidden in a high pinnacle that hasn’t been touched by maintenance for years. But who do the bones belong to, and how did they get there? Could the eccentric British pastime of free climbing ...more
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published December 2nd 2014 by Atlantic Monthly Press (first published 2014)
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3.84  · 
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Oct 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook
McDermid continues to impress with another novel, adding an historic twist to keep readers enthralled. A skeleton is lodged high in a Victorian-era building in the heart of Edinburgh. The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTFY) have a number of war criminals from the Balkan wars in their crosshairs and seek one at the top of their list, a ruthless Croatian. Such begins the latest Karen Pirie novel and pulls the reader deep into the narrative. Now a Detective Chief Inspe ...more
Feb 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Book #3 in the series, and I’m still enjoying Karen Pirie. This one had a historical slant involving the Balkans. I don’t know much about their history, but I did recognize place names from their being in the news.

A skeleton is found in a weird place up on a roof of a derelict building in Edinburgh, and it’s a very difficult place to do an investigation or gather forensic clues. Handle it they do, and it ties into events during the Balkan Wars in the 1990’s. Professor Maggie Blake, who lived thr
Oct 07, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: kindle, crime-fiction

I've been reading Val McDermid's novels for a long time. Many of them of them I've liked a lot, others not so much. This is one in the not so much category, although a bit more than I liked her last effort, The Vanishing Point.

Set in Edinburgh, Oxford and Croatia, the plot deals with two investigations: one conducted by Scottish police into the murder of a man whose skeletonised remains are found on the roof of a condemned building and the other conducted by two hapless International Criminal T

The old Victorian John Drummond School in historic Edinburgh had been abandoned for the last twenty years – it had had its share of squatters and the like, but now the building was being checked for stability; the old battlements, turrets and pinnacles needed to be assessed before it could be converted into flats. The unexpected shock of finding skeletal remains in one of the turrets would haunt the young man forever, he just knew it.

Cold case detective Karen Pirie was called in to start th
Sep 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime
This is probably going to turn out to be one of my favourite reads of the year – it is one of those reads that makes me wish I was good at gushing. I loved it. DCI Karen Pirie is called in to investigate when a skeleton is discovered on the rooftop of an abandoned building – a skeleton with a bullet hole in the head. The investigation takes the reader from Scotland to Oxford, to Greece and Croatia as a story unfolds that literally took my breath away. I loved reading about each setting and the d ...more
Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede

Jag hade helt glömt bort att jag hade läst en tidigare bok i denna serie. Och, jag är tacksam över det då det inte var en bok som jag fann speciellt intressant. Jag är en stor fan av Val McDermids Tony Hill och Carol Jordan serie men jag har inte direkt utforskat hennes andra böcker så det var intressant att läsa denna bok och till viss del tyckte jag det var riktigt bra, dock så var det rätt så lätt att lista ut vem som låg bakom mordet på mannen som hittades skjuten upp på take
I forgot to add this book, which I finished last week. I am reading this series out of order as I started with the fourth. In this novel Karen Pirie is called in after a skeleton is found on the roof of an abandoned building. Pirie works in the "historic cases" unit, or what is more commonly called the cold case unit. Her inquiries lead her to the former Yugoslavia after she links a missing persons case from several years back to this case.

The Balkan Wars of the recent century are mostly forgott
Mar 22, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery-suspense
I have read quite a few of McDermid's books, and though I often felt the ending was a bit dissatisfying, her writing is such that you feel instantly engaged.'A Place of Execution' is probably her best, so if you want to start with a McDermid book, I would recommend you start there. Now to 'The Skeleton Road'.
I was very intrigued by the premise of this mystery, as it focuses on the Balkan conflict, about which I knew, certainly, but had never read any novel about. Apparently this is part of a se
Michael Robotham
Sep 07, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When you pick up any novel by Val McDermid you know you are in the hands of a true pro, who can craft characters and stories that will transport you and make you care. This one is a very fine stand-alone. It didn't matter to me that I picked certain elements - I was enthralled by the journey.
Maxine (Booklover Catlady)
Aug 10, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Crime Fiction Fans, Historical Crime Fans
Firstly let me say that I am a big fan of previous books by the talented Val McDermid. Sadly, I did not love this book quite as much as some of her others. Don't get me wrong, the book itself is written extremely well but I just couldn't get particularly excited about the plot.

What's the book about?

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
Sep 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
What did I think of this book? Well, first off, it's written by Val McDermid and yes, I am terribly biased. I love her writing. Second, I love her writing because she can write for adults who want to read an adult mystery/thriller story and she writes at an educated level that shows respect to her readers. And third, author McDermid can bring together the storylines of a skeleton found on the roof of a building, involving Police Scotland and DCI Karen Pirie; an Oxford professor of geopolitical s ...more
Claire Kittridge
Dec 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thrillers
Great characters and great plot timing. The Skeleton Road is smartly written with historical tie-ins, multiple love interests, and a hard-edged unsentimental finish. A great book that I couldn't put down until I was done.
Vi ❤ Inkvotary
Bildergebnis für university of oxford inside:

Style and Language
In this crime novel comes a war into the game, which left many scars and even more dead. Val McDermid uses a clear but powerful language, her writing is simple but effective and she has a brilliant way to get the reader into the pages. This crime novel is very haunting, full of great dialogues and scenes and shows a psychological finesse which is extraordinary. There is no word wrong placed, no line too much or something missing at all.

From the first till the last line your ca
Sep 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
A welcome return to form...

When a long-dead body is found on the roof of a derelict Edinburgh school, the case is handed to Detective Chief Inspector Karen Pirie of the Historic Cases Unit. Calling on her friend and colleague, forensic anthropologist Dr River Wilde, for help in identifying the body, Karen soon finds that the victim is of Eastern European origin. So begins a case that is as much about the history of the Serbo-Croatian war of the 1990s as it is about a murder investigation.

When Va
Sep 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: best-crime-2014
Thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for my review copy.

I’m a big fan of Val McDermid and her Tony Hill and Carol Jordan series. ‘The Skeleton Road’ is a standalone novel and is McDermid at her very best. The story follows Karen Pirie, in charge of cold cases in Scotland Police. A skeleton is found in Edinburgh on a roof top and this leads Pirie to Oxford and Croatia, in search of answers.

The book takes the reader on a journey to the dark days of the 1990s, when the former Yugoslavia was being
Sep 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book works best when the focus is on Maggie. While I enjoy the fact that Karen is not the sterotypical good looking women as well as the fact that she has friends. I even liked the Mint, her less than sharp sidekick. But the book truly sings when the focus is on Maggie because Karen's plot points are slightly been there, done that.

The book is good and riveting, however. It is a good read and ride.
David Highton
Jan 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant novel as a skeleton is found atop an abandoned school in Edinburgh, and leads Pirie back into the Balkans conflicts. Several strands moving along in parallel allow a complex plot to maintain good momentum. And Pirie has a major shock in her personal life just as she closes in on the answer to the puzzling plot.
Liz Barnsley
Sep 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Publication Date: Available Now.

Source: Publisher Review Copy

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 world of intrigue and betrayal, spanning the dark days of the Balkan Wars.

So a standalone book this time, (Not Tony Hill) an excellent and very involving read showing once again
Amanda Patterson
I’ve read a lot of Val McDermid’s books, and I am usually a fan. In The Skeleton Road, I realised who the killer was on page 40 of the 400-page book. Given that the book is about the mystery of who did it, I thought McDermid was introducing a red herring. Sadly, she was not.

A skeleton is found on the roof of an abandoned building in Scotland. It is estimated to have been there for more than five years. Cold Case detective, Karen Pirie has to discover who it is and how he ended up there with a bu
Tracey Walsh
Sep 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A stonking story interwoven with a lesson in modern European history that pulls no punches.
"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 world of intrigue and betrayal, spanning the dark days of the Balkan Wars."
My overriding feeling on finishing was guilt. The events described took
Aug 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
When a skeleton with a bullet hole in its skull is found at the top of a long-abandoned building in Edinburgh, Karen Pirie of Police Scotland's Historic Cases Unit doesn't realize that she's about to be drawn into a case that will see her enmeshed in the complexities of the bloody civil war over a decade earlier in the countries of what was once Yugoslavia, joined as they were in a common bond of mutual hatred . . .

That's a fair (albeit overly brief) description of this novel, but it's really qu
Jul 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
A solid book but it fails to transcend it's genre. But then so do most of us, don't we?
Books can transport us to some wonderful places. Books can transport us to some terrible places. Often, the place is the same with the perspective different. The place can be a vast geographical landscape, or it can be the confines of a mind. Reading allows us to see the beauty and the ugliness of that same place so that making a black and white judgment becomes obstructed by the full disclosure of knowledge. We are forced to be less judgmental and more understanding. Val McDermid is the master ...more
Oct 03, 2014 rated it liked it
For me, reading this book was like trying to start a car where the engine just didn't want to cooperate. It had a lot of promise, but for me it just didn't do it.

There were scattered parts in the novel where I got excited about turning the next page, but they were separated by chapters which, frankly, I felt like skipping half of the time. Lots of tedious information, lots of long-winded character descriptions with convenient timing. Lots of allusions that I didn't understand (but that is proba
The Pfaeffle Journal (Diane)
Started reading this and thought that it sounded familiar, so I checked around and found that I had downloaded this from Audible in December 2014. I must have listened to it and never recorded it. This is one of the reasons I use Goodreads so I don't read the same books over and over. Marking this read and not writing a review.
Pam Baddeley
This is the third of the three books by this author that I picked up cheaply in charity shops or library discard sales recently, and of the three was the one I enjoyed the most until the ending rather undercut that. It is one of a series about Detective Chief Inspector Karen Pirie, but I found it worked as a standalone novel. Unusually, it takes the Balkans conflicts as its background, which I haven't encountered as a setting for fiction previously.

Early on in the story, skeletal remains are fo
Debby Hallett
Mar 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Really superb. It opens with a scene in Chania Crete. That’s where I go on holiday every year. Then it has much action taking place in Oxford. That’s where I live!

And then it’s about the Balkan conflicts in the 1999’s. That’s something I’ve wanted to learn about for a long time. I even bought some history books. But this fictionalised account is much MUCH better.

Outstanding. Recommended.
Ray Palen
Dec 09, 2014 rated it liked it
The Balkan Wars of the 1990's --- also labeled the Yugoslav Wars --- took place over a period of 8 years and featured a battle for the ethnic identity of the territory formally known as Yugoslavia. It involved specific battle between Serbs and Albanians. Like all wars, there were moments of deep horror and war crimes that left scars not easily healed over time.

This conflict is at the heart of Val McDermid's latest novel, THE SKELETON ROAD. A stand-alone novel that starts out as a simple cold cas
Val Penny
Jul 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have read several books by Val McDermid over the years and I have enjoyed them. The Torment of Others and Fever of the Bone are reviewed on this site:, She is a noted Scottish crime writer, whose writing has won many awards. McDermid is best known for a series of suspense novels featuring Dr. Tony Hill. However, Tony Hill did not appear in The Skeleton Road. The chief protagonist is a police detective, Karen Pir ...more
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Sep 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
For some reason I have only read one other Val McDermid book, so I made sure to put this on my to read list. I actually picked this up a couple of months ago but after the first couple of chapters put it back down. Sometimes, I know I’m not in the mood for a book so I go back to it and in this case I’m glad that I did. The story features an introduction where a skeleton is found hidden iside an Edinburgh building. Detective Chief Inspector Karen Pirie is called to the scene and takes the case ho ...more
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Kindle English My...: The Skeleton Road by Val McDermid 4 23 Oct 26, 2014 07:17AM  

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Val McDermid is a No. 1 bestseller whose novels have been translated into more than thirty languages, and have sold over eleven million copies.

She has won many awards internationally, including the CWA Gold Dagger for best crime novel of the year and the LA Times Book of the Year Award. She was inducted into the ITV3 Crime Thriller Awards Hall of Fame in 2009 and was the recipient of the CWA Cart

Other books in the series

Inspector Karen Pirie (5 books)
  • The Distant Echo (Inspector Karen Pirie, #1)
  • A Darker Domain (Inspector Karen Pirie, #2)
  • Out of Bounds (Inspector Karen Pirie, #4)
  • Broken Ground (Inspector Karen Pirie, #5)