Atlantic Monthly Press
Atlantic Monthly Press
Atlantic Monthly Press

Past Lying

by Val McDermid

In this superb new addition to Val McDermid’s masterful crime series, DCI Karen Pirie returns in a propulsive thriller of deceit and vengeance, set against the disquiet of a global pandemic

  • Imprint Atlantic Monthly Press
  • Page Count 464
  • Publication Date November 14, 2023
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-6149-9
  • Dimensions 6" x 9"
  • US List Price $27.00
  • Imprint Atlantic Monthly Press
  • Publication Date November 14, 2023
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-6150-5
  • US List Price $27.00

Britain’s reigning “Queen of Crime” (The Scotsman), Val McDermid is the award-winning, internationally bestselling author of over thirty novels. The long-awaited seventh novel in the acclaimed series that has captivated audiences for twenty years, both on the page and now in the Edgar Award–nominated ITV/BritBox show, Past Lying is a full tilt novel of ego, retribution, deceit, and just how far one will go to settle the score.

It’s April 2020 and Edinburgh is in lockdown. It would seem like a strange time for a cold case to go hot—the streets all but empty, an hour’s outdoor exercise the maximum allowed—but a mere pandemic doesn’t mean crime takes a holiday. When a source at the National Library contacts DCI Karen Pirie’s team about documents in the archive of a recently deceased crime novelist, it seems it’s game on again. At the center of it, a novel: two crime novelists facing off over a chessboard. But it quickly emerges that their real-life competition is drawing blood. What unspools is a twisted game of betrayal and revenge, and as Karen and her team attempt to disentangle fact from fiction, it becomes clear that their investigation is more complicated than they ever imagined.

A tense, atmospheric page-turner, Past Lying reaffirms McDermid as one of the most talented crime writers of her generation.

Praise for Past Lying:

Nominated for the Edgars’ Sue Grafton Memorial Award
Amazon Editors’ Pick for Best Mystery, Thriller & Suspense – New and continuing series

“Val McDermid manages to stay at the top of her game . . . McDermid, an avid gamer and early adopter of social media, moves effortlessly between scenes of a musty archive, old-fashioned shoe leather and cutting-edge technology. She captures the camaraderie of those who toil in the keyboard trenches and the never-ending competition for the spoils of literary success.”—Lisa Levy, Washington Post

“McDermid negotiates her ceaselessly exciting book’s twists like a master.”—Tom Nolan, Wall Street Journal

“McDermid is at the peak of her game with this story of obsession and a blood feud between two devilishly clever writers . . . [A] marvelous psychological novel with the dense atmosphere that McDermid readers expect. Not a weekend book. You need to go slow and savour the prose.”—Margaret Cannon, Globe and Mail

“One of the best books [McDermid] has ever written . . . Past Lying is a wonder to behold.”—Bookreporter

“McDermid outdoes herself with the thorny, semi-meta plot; even the book within a book, a device that can be tedious, is irresistible. Trying to figure out who’s playing whom while relishing McDermid’s behind-the-scenes take on Tartan Noir should keep readers up past their bedtimes.”—Air Mail

“Even into her seventh decade, McDermid could never be accused of coasting. Her new Karen Pirie cold-case novel, set during the pandemic, is sharper than ever, as Karen investigates a dead writer’s manuscript that looks like a blue print for murder. Even the book-within-a-book ploy works!”—Lisa Hendrickson, Air Mail

“Gripping . . . [R]atcheting up the tension from the get-go . . . McDermid masterfully uses the lockdown as another character in the book, making the novel especially atmospheric . . . The book-within-the-book of Stein’s manuscript is fascinating, and the twists and turns the case takes will keep readers guessing until the final pages. Tartan noir at its finest, Past Lying is perfect for fans of Ian Rankin or Denise Mina.”—Jessica Howard, Shelf Awareness

“Often described as the queen of crime, McDermid brings all her subtlety and skill to this deliciously creepy story . . . With echoes of Patricia Highsmith’s Strangers on a Train, but with an originality all its own, the elegant story slowly reveals the betrayal and revenge that lie at its heart.”—Daily Mail

“[An] elegant story from McDermid, who richly deserves the title of queen of crime.”—Daily Mail Online

“Truly chilling . . . Ingenious, humane, and all too telling as a reminder of the costs of the pandemic even on its survivors.”Kirkus Reviews

“Both longtime fans and newcomers alike will be able to jump right into the building suspense . . . Past Lying is another finely plotted Karen Pirie page turner that will leave readers wanting more.”—BookPage

“While many writers have avoided this period because of the plot constraints, McDermid forges ahead and creates almost the same level of activity as we expect from works in this genre . . . While the author’s style drives the story with excellent pacing, she takes the time to insert some arch characterizations . . . McDermid’s novel is a generously sized, big book with an entertaining puzzle within a puzzle.”—New York Journal of Books

“Pirie is [McDermid’s] most sympathetic protagonist and Past Lying one of her most devious and delightful cases.”­­The Times (UK)

Past Lying is probably [McDermid’s] best novel for some time . . . [McDermid] is always very good at creating vivid and compelling scenes that make the most of Scotland’s history and scenery, and in Past Lying she ably brings back the horror and uncertainty of the pandemic.”—Deadly Pleasures

“By far the best murder mystery Val McDermid has written . . . This is the seventh Karen Pirie novel and it’s beyond terrific . . . McDermid doesn’t hand you anything on a platter, you have to work for it — the book within a book requires the skill of a reader who can follow Antony Horowitz.”—Nick Martin, Winnipeg Free Press

“McDermid is clearly in her element here . . . It’s a clever and intriguing case with a gripping ending that is sure to please fans of crime fiction.”—Mystery & Suspense

“Riveting . . . McDermid keeps the twists coming hard and fast, and she bolsters them with sharp observations about the toll of Covid on the public psyche. This page-turner grips from the outset and doesn’t let go.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Atmospheric . . . The novel-within-a-novel is not a new device, but McDermid uses it to memorable effect in a piece of fiction that vividly recreates the anxious early months of the Covid pandemic.”Sunday Times (UK)

“The twists and turns are satisfying, especially the meta quality of a crime writer writing about crime writers and the book-within-a-book structure.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune

“McDermid makes [the pandemic lockdown] an effective handicap to Pirie, whose investigation of a not-quite-stone-cold case must accommodate the public health restrictions . . . The parallels between Stein’s real life and his fictional book are striking, so that the narrative takes on the characteristics of nested dolls . . . [H]ead and shoulders above many crime novels.”—Crime Fiction Lover

“Queen of crime is a title that gets bandied about a lot, and with her meticulously plotted and atmospheric murder mysteries, McDermid has a reliable claim.”—Sydney Morning Herald

“A fascinating, atmospheric crime story.”—Canberra Daily (Australia)

“A twisty plot of murder and vengeance . . . set against the dramatic backdrop of a global pandemic. By the novel’s end, no one has been left unscathed.”First Clue Reviews

“[Past Lying] is a delight, traversing all its atmospheric nooks and crannies. The colorful Gaelic-sprinkled dialogue is another bonus for the armchair traveller . . . Reading Past Lying offers a comforting sense of Schadenfreude.”—Avril Janks, Law Society Journal

“McDermid’s fans know better than to trust . . . a simple solution. She ingeniously flips over the rug and examines the pattern in reverse. Karen and her supporting cast are absorbing, providing insight into the restrictions on police work during the pandemic and plenty of Scottish flavor . . . Fans of the Karen Pirie television series . . . will be eager to read.”Booklist

“McDermid [has] fun describing the inner workings of the crime-fiction profession, including the creation of stories and the politics, favouritism, resentment, jealousy and score-settling found behind the scenes . . . The two imaginary chess-playing novelists are masterpieces of nastiness.”—Literary Review (UK)

“The Queen of Crime shows no sign of abdicating. Past Lying is as complex, as satisfying and as readable as anything she’s written – which makes it another jewel in Val McDermid’s crown.”—Mick Herron, author of The Secret Hours

“A chilling, twisting triumph. Past Lying is a classic mystery, brilliant, heart-stopping and seamless. No one does it better than Val McDermid.”—Chris Whitaker, author of We Begin at the End

“The motive and modus operandi of the crime are absorbing to read about, and as a procedural, the novel is very diligent in its path.”—Harish’s Substack

“A writer at the top of her game . . . With an intricate plot, authentic dialogue, rich details, and masterly McDermid twists and turns, this book will delight Pirie fans, existing and new.”Library Journal, starred review

“[An] excellent series.”—Vannessa Cronin, Amazon Book Review

“The long mystery is kept entertaining by the quality of McDermid’s writing, particularly the characterizations of Pirie and her team.”—Bob Burnett, The Berkeley Daily Planet

“McDermid does not disappoint . . . we are all reminded of what an excellent writer she is and how lucky we are that the pandemic lockdowns are over.”—Anne Corey, Reviewing the Evidence

Praise for Val McDermid:

“[A] relentlessly engrossing series.”Wall Street Journal on Broken Ground

“There are few other crime writers in the same league as Val McDermid. Her stories are ingeniously plotted, moody . . . Absorbing . . . It’s Karen’s character that’s the enduring draw of this series . . . Out of Bounds is another terrific and intricate suspense novel by a writer who has given us 30 of them. As I said, there are few other crime writers in the same league as Val McDermid.”—Maureen Corrigan, Washington Post on Out of Bounds

“We read crime fiction for enjoyment, comfort and reassurance. McDermid provides all this . . . Still Life shows that she is still at the height of her powers; it is deeply enjoyable, one of her best.”Scotsman (UK) on Still Life

“McDermid is at the top of her game and readers will be highly rewarded for taking this new journey at her side.”CrimeReads on Still Life

“A thriller as steely and superlative as its heroine.”—O, The Oprah Magazine on Broken Ground

“No one writes sturdier mysteries than Val McDermid.”Chicago Tribune on Out of Bounds

“McDermid remains unrivalled . . . brilliant.”—Observer (UK) on How the Dead Speak

“Further evidence that her ‘Queen of Crime’ status will not be challenged.”—Scotsman on How the Dead Speak

“Chock-full of crime . . . fans and newcomers to the series will enjoy the twists and turns.”—Library Journal on How the Dead Speak

“McDermid’s books are relentlessly excellent, with sympathetically flawed characters, well-crafted storylines, a clever twist or two, and crisp dialogue. It’s no wonder she’s considered the queen of Scottish crime fiction.”BookPage on Broken Ground