Val McDermid is simply one of the best crime writers around. I have loved every book she's written. She has a number of series. Out of Bounds is the fourth novel featuring Inspector Karen Pirie. But you could absolutely read this as a stand alone.
Pirie is working cold cases. When a DNA sample from an accident victim turns up a match with a twenty two year old unsolved murder, Karen hopes for a quick solve to an old case. But it's not as straight forward as she hoped. And being Karen, she can't help but follow a case that interests her. Even when it's not hers. A terrorist bombing, also from twenty plus years ago is one she can't let go.
Karen is a wonderfully flawed character, struggling to overcome her own tragedies and doubts, while still maintaining a professional demeanor. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. But you can't help but be in her corner. She's fierce and driven to find answers. The mental and verbal sparring between her and her superior is such fun to read. Her partner Jason is not as quick, but they make a good team. And it's impossible not to like him.
Where McDermid's books shine are in the plotting. Complex and not easily sussed out. I enjoy following the police work needed to unravel the answers, discovering the connections along with the characters. McDermid adds a nice (and timely) piece of social commentary with Karen befriending some Syrian refugees.
Absolutely recommended. (As are the previous twenty nine books she's written!) Read an excerpt of Out of Bounds.