Rebecca McCormick. Powered by Blogger.

1989 by Val McDermid - Review

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

You may remember that I read Marple last year - it's a collection of twelve new stories about Miss Marple by some of today's best authors. I really enjoyed it and was glad I read it. Then around Christmas I saw this reading list featuring all the authors, and I thought it sounded like a fun reading challenge for me for 2023. I have already read four of the books on the list - The Power, Nothing More to Tell, The Locked Room, and The Paris Apartment, and I'm not sure about the Kate Mosse book Warrior Queens and Quiet Revolutionaries, although I might give it a go. We'll see! But that left seven books to read, and I picked up 1989 last week as it was on my Kindle. 

I haven't read a lot of Val McDermid books but when I do I always enjoy them. I didn't realise this was the second in a new series featuring journalist Allie Burns to start off with, but I would definitely be interested in reading the first one. This book is partially set in parts of Manchester that I know, so that was fun to read about. The book is set is 1989 which makes it quite weird - it is long enough ago to be historical but close enough to remember. I was five in 1989 so do remember parts of it, especially the big news stories of the year like the Hillsborough Disaster and the fall of the Berlin Wall. Val talks a little bit about writing historical fiction set in the recent past at the end of the book, which I found interesting too. 

So much happens in this book that it felt wacky to me as I was reading as it just kept going! But it's testament to Val's skill as a writer that it never felt clunky or out of place. 

So, Allie Burns is an investigative journalist. She's currently the northern correspondant for a big paper, owned by Ace Lockhart, a media mogul who is clearly based on Robert Maxwell. Allie lives in Manchester with her girlfriend, Rona, who is also a journalist. Allie starts investigating why so many of Scotland's HIV and Aids patients have moved to Manchester. She discovers that there had been a drug trial in Edinburgh that got stopped abruptly; she goes there to discover why and finds out that the trial has been moved to East Berlin, in the Soviet bloc. She goes to Berlin to talk to a scientist and finds herself embroiled in a scandal there. 

Meanwhile, Ace Lockhart is having financial problems. After buying a New York newspaper he has almost no money to spend on the rest of his empire, so he borrows from the pension fund to bankroll everything (which is what Maxwell did!). His daughter, Genevieve, is head of their science publishing arm, Pythagoras, and she is insure about the loan from the pension fund. But she is keen to keep her father on side, so she keeps quiet. Ace knows that revolution is coming to the Soviet bloc and thinks it needs facillitating from West Berlin, so he sends Genevieve there to do some digging. 

There's lots more, including the Hillsborough Disaster, the reading of which absolutely floored me as I wasn't expecting it. It's done in a completely respectful and brilliant way and the experience makes Allie rethink her life and whether she wants to be a journalist. 

I really enjoyed the book, I am giving it five out of five. A worthy addition to the Marple challenge!

No comments:

Post a Comment


Blogger news


Most Read