First Chapter First Paragraph: The Skeleton Road

eca8f-fistchapEvery Tuesday Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea hosts First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros to share the first paragraph sometimes two, of a book that she’s reading or is planning to read soon.

This week’s first paragraph is from her third Karen Pirie book,  The Skeleton Road by Val McDermid, a book I’m about to read.

The Skeleton Road


Chapter 1

Fraser Jardine wanted to die. His stomach was knotted tight, his bowels in the twisted grip of panic. A teardrop of sweat trickled down his left temple. The voice in his head sneered at his weakness, just as it had since boyhood. Biting his lip in shame, Fraser forced open the skylight and pushed it outwards. He climbed the last three steps on the ladder one at a time and gingerly emerged on the pitched roof.

Never mind that tourists would have paid for this sensational view of a city classified as a World Heritage Site. All Fraser cared about was how far he was from the ground.

I can empathise with Fraser – I’ve never liked heights and always get that terrifying feeling that I’m about to fall whenever I climb up to the top of a tall building.


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, spanning the dark days of the Balkan Wars.

Karen’s search for answers brings her to a small village in Croatia, a place where people have endured unspeakable acts of violence. Meanwhile, someone is taking the law into their own hands in the name of justice and revenge — but when present resentment collides with secrets of the past, the truth is more shocking than anyone could have imagined . . .

I’ve read the first two Karen Pirie books and enjoyed them both, although I think the first one, The Distant Echo, is better than the second, A Darker Domain.

What do you think?  Would you continue reading? 

12 thoughts on “First Chapter First Paragraph: The Skeleton Road

  1. I’ll be interested to see what you think of this. I had reservations, but I don’t want to influence your response so I’ll tell you what they are after you’ve read it.


  2. I have never read Val McDermid which seems shocking considering how much crime fiction I read. I’d give it a go based on the blurb.


    1. Emma, I’ve only just go into reading Val McDermid’s books – for years I’ve been put off as I couldn’t bear to watch Wire in the Blood on TV – far to gory for me. But these Karen Pirie books aren’t like that!

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  3. I like Val McDermid’s books but I didn’t finish this particular one – I’m not sure whether it was a timing issue on my part or not though so don’t let my response influence your enjoyment


  4. At last I have the first Karen Pirie book, been waiting months for my reservation to come in. Can’t wait, have a feeling I’m going to like this series. Oh and I can’t stand heights either…


  5. I liked it, Margaret, and felt she handled the Croatia stuff well. It is very dark, darker than the only other one I’ve read in the Karen Pirie series, but there are some touches of humour to lighten it up a bit. Hope you enjoy it! 🙂


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