"The slap of spades in dense peat was an unmistakable sound. They slipped in and out of rhythm:overlapping, separating, cascading, then coming together again, much like the men's heavy breathing."
A body? Almost definitely, I thought. But it's not. And if I gave you a thousand guesses, I doubt you'd guess what they're burying in peat (unless you've read the book).
Back at the office, DCI Karen Pirie has a new boss. You'd think, since she's a woman, life would be better for Karen, but no - the DCI and DC Jason "The Mint" Murray have DS Gerry McCartney foisted upon them, ostensibly to spy and report to Ann Markie (Dog Biscuit). Their Historic Case Unit investigates cases younger than 70 years, but "cold" in terms of evidence. Meanwhile, Karen's friend, River, a forensic anthropologist gets the peat mystery.
Karen and Jason must navigate the bad politics, blurry lines drawn between cases, while they cannot escape the feeling that one bad move will have them blown up and out of jobs.
Val McDermid weaves an imaginative plot, including Highland games, a real highlander, and ties to spy-training units in WWII.
I thoroughly enjoyed the pace, the tension, the detail and the resolution, even though it did come a little suddenly.