1989 (Allie Burns #2), by Val McDermid

Eight stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Val McDermid, andGrove Atlantic for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

Always eager to to read the works of Val McDermid, I readily reached for her latest novel. Allie Burns and her journalistic prowess are back for another adventure, using the backdrop of history to spin a story like no other. McDermid packs of punch with this novel, which explored a number of issues from 1989, both social and historical, while providing her reader with something well-worth their invested time. I can only wonder where McDermid will take things next, but am sure fans are in for another treat.

Allie Burns has come a long way in a decade. Now in a senior role within the Sunday Globe, Allie has come to terms that her passion for investigative journalism must be shelved as she tries to cater to readers with tabloid-style writing. Sent to cover the Lockerbie memorials after a plane exploded over the small Scottish town, Allie soon realises that she is meant to be a pretty face digging in the mud of societal grief.

After tripping upon a story about AIDS in Edinburgh, Allie discovers that there is more to it than labelling the city as the disease’s European hotspot . A drug trial aimed at stemming the effects of HIV is quickly stopped by UK authorities. As Allie digs a little deeper, she learns that trials for the drug continue in East Germany, though little is known about what’s going on. Allie vows to get answers and heads behind the Iron Curtain to get to the truth.

While in East Germany, Allie learns much about the pharmaceutical industry, but has another hot potato story land in her lap. The apparent suicide of a media magnate has ties to Nazi Germany and Allie is keen to get to the bottom of this as well. While she tugs on a string or two, Allie soon realises that she has unraveled quite true story and won’t stop until she gets to the truth. The world is changing around her, but Allie Burns is one woman who won’t watch it pass her by! Another stunning story by Val McDermid that will keep the reader flipping pages well into the night.

I have long enjoyed the work of Val McDermid, who never shies away from controversial things while highlighting the wonders of Scotland. There is so much going on in this piece that it is difficult to summarise with ease. McDermid encapsulates a great deal within the pages of this book and keeps the reader wanting to know more. Society and the world at large come under the microscope in this piece, which is both reflective and refreshing in equal measure.

McDemrid is able to develop a strong narrative from the outset, which serves to guide the story along for most of the ride. There are strong themes that resonate out of what McDermid has to say and she’s keen to address them in detail. Great characters offer the reader some entertainment throughout, though it is the depth to which they take the novel that is their greatest purpose. A few key plot twists, complementing the historic goings-on, prove to be the best part of the story and keep the reader learning as they make their way through this gripping tale. I wonder if there is more. to come and what year Mcdermid will choose next.

Kudos, Madam McDermid, for a great piece and wonderful collection of historical moments. You never ceases to amaze.