The Complete List of Val McDermid Books in Order

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People who are big fans of murder mysteries and psychological thrillers must take a look at the brilliant and intriguing books by Scottish author Val McDermid. McDermid has written scores of great books and multiple successful book series.

With so many great series and books, it can be challenging to know which book series to pick or which book to start with. So to help you begin with Val McDermid’s books, here is the complete list of all the books by the author arranged in their book series and reading order.

Here are all the series included in this article, and then we’ll start with brief details about the book series and the reading order of the books. Let’s get started.

Book Series by Val McDermid

Sr. No.
Publication Date
Print Length
Where to Buy
11979October 5, 2021320 pagesAtlantic Monthly PressAmazon
2The Distant EchoOctober 1, 2003384 pagesMinotaur BooksAmazon
3Dead BeatJanuary 1, 1993207 pagesSt Martins PrAmazon
4Report for MurderJanuary 1, 1990196 pagesSt Martins PrAmazon
5The Mermaids SingingJanuary 1, 1996276 pagesHarper PrismAmazon
6Non-Fiction BooksApril 5, 2016320 pagesGrove PressAmazon
7A Place of ExecutionSeptember 2, 2000416 pagesMinotaur BooksAmazon
8Short Story CollectionsNovember 1, 199748 pagesRevolverAmazon
9Graphic NovelsMay 20, 2021160 pagesWellcome CollectionAmazon
10NovellasMarch 1, 2007128 pagesHarperCollinsAmazon

Allie Burns Books

Allie Burns is a great book series with just two books. So anyone who wants to read some excellent murder mystery or crime thriller but does not want a long list of books along with it goes with this series.

Start with: 1979

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1979 is a magnificent murder mystery/ crime thriller with a brilliant plot, a host of great characters, and the perfect atmosphere to return to the gritty and dark alleys in the late 70s. 1979 does a fantastic job of creating the environment to capture readers in its world.

This novel is about two things; the rampant crime and corruption that plagued most of the 70s and 80s and the blatant and ubiquitous sexism at both workplaces and homes. McDermid uses both of these elements perfectly to craft a gripping story that, despite being a bit slow-paced, gets very exciting.

Allie Burns is a journalist who has a knack for the adventurous. She wants to explore and report on the underbelly of the town, the crime, murders, and corruption. She wants to investigate these serious topics so that she can be considered seriously at her work.

Like every other field, journalism in the late 70s was dominated by males, and females were considered merely as props in the office. But Burns is motivated to prove this wrong and work on a breakthrough investigation. She gets help from a “wannabe” investigative journalist named Danny Sullivan (who soon becomes her great friend.)

The pace of the story is slow, but readers can ignore that with the great and complex characters of Allie and Danny’s characters. Both the characters are given enough time to grow and develop along with the plot.

The crimes are horrible, and the plot is intricately crafted. While you’ll have to wait for the story to unravel, it will all be worth it in the end. A great series with just two books. Here are the book arranged in reading order:

Inspector Karen Pirie Books

Karen Pirie book series has some of the most emotionally gripping elements and engaging plots. You’ll be emotionally attached to the protagonist of this series, making the series even more fun to read.

Start with: The Distant Echo

The Distant Echo
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The Distant Echo is a brilliant murder mystery novel that explores not only the real-world impacts of murder but also the toll it takes emotionally. The story is about four friends who discover the dead body of a woman.

Alex and his friends are drunk. While walking, they stumble upon a dead body. The woman lying dead is Rosie, a barmaid. Naturally, the whole town starts thinking that these four men are the prime suspect. But there’s not enough evidence to find the truth.

Then there’s a leap of 25 years when this cold case is reopened, along with the reopening of old wounds. Things are changing, and Alex can feel it. Two of his mates are murdered, and there is something going on, something sinister.

Without giving too much of the story, all we can say is that the writing is crisp, the characters are complicated and very welll defined, and they connect very deeply with the readers. The writing is also straightforward, which makes this story more enjoyable and less of a reading strain.

There are six books in this series. Here are all the books in reading order:

Kate Brannigan Books

Another excellent crime thriller series with plots of explorative nature. As the stories progress, readers get to learn a lot about the places where the books are set and the environment around the characters.

Brilliant and fast-paced writing paired with great characters and plot is what makes this book series so fun to read.

Start with: Dead Beat

Dead Beat
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“Dead Beat” is a very light, enjoyable, and fun-to-read murder mystery novel with a roster of great characters, especially the protagonist and private investigator Kate Brannigan.

The plot is simple but entertaining and engaging. Kate is asked to track down a missing girl named Moira. While she is reluctant about taking the case, she finally accepts it. It is when the plot gets thicker and more complicated.

We see the underbelly of London through the eyes of Kate and the places she ends up following this investigation. There’s a murder and a big mystery that soon sizes up to become a big case, getting the police involved.

With a list of suspects with the needle of suspicion pointing to almost everyone, can P.I. Kate Brannigan find the murderer or allow the culprit to take another life? The plot is fun and fast-paced, with great dialogues, brilliant world-building, and great characters.

There are six great books in this series. Here are all of them arranged in reading order:

Lindsay Gordon Books

The Lindsay Gordon book series is the most polarizing book series on this list. Readers either love it or hate it; there is no in-between. The biggest reason for it is the protagonist of the series. But pick the first book and keep pacing through the series; you might love it.

Start with: Report for Murder

Report for Murder
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Report For Murder is the first book in the Lindsay Gordon book series, and it introduces us to the lead of this series, Lindsay Gordon. Gordon is a feminist and a journalist who gets tangled in a very bizarre murder mystery.

The plot starts with Gordon visiting her old boarding school to write about the grand fund-raising event. A renowned singer and former student named Lorna Smith-Couper is also going to be at the event for a performance.

But things go south when the singer, Lorna, is murdered, and a teacher is blamed for it. The headmistress asks Gordon to investigate the case and get to the bottom of it. It is where the murder investigation starts, and things get exciting.

Many people might not like the character of Gordon in this book. She comes off as too abrasive, rude, obstinate, and arrogant. But this is what the character starts with, and it changes as the story progresses in the other books.

There are six books in this series. Here are all of them arranged in reading order:

Tony Hill / Carol Jordan Books

The Tony Hill/ Carol Jordan book series is the most twisted, gory, and disturbing book series on this list. The crimes are visceral and very well described. This book series is not for people with a weak stomachs. But if you are a fan of gory books with great mystery plots, then go for it without a second thought.

Start with: The Mermaids Singing

The Mermaids Singing
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“The Mermaids Singing” is McDermid’s most intense, gory, dark, and twisted murder mystery novel, and it gets graphic very soon. It is also the reason why this book and the series are loved by murder mystery fans. 

The plot involves two brilliant protagonists, Tony Hill and Carol Jordan. Hill is a doctor, while Jordan is a detective inspector. They are together to hunt down a killer who has very peculiar and grotesque methods of taking the lives of the victims. 

The mystery will leave your head scratching, while the writing, plot, and fast-paced storytelling of Ms. Mcdermid will leave you in awe. This book and the series are so popular that she wrote over ten books for it. Here are all of them in reading order:

  1. The Mermaids Singing
  2. The Wire In The Blood
  3. The Last Temptation
  4. The Torment of Others
  5. Beneath the Bleeding
  6. Fever of the Bone
  7. The Retribution
  8. Cross and Burn
  9. Splinter the Silence
  10. Insidious Intent
  11. Footloose
  12. How the Dead Speak

Non-Fiction Books

Forensics What Bugs, Burns, Prints, DNA, and More Tell Us About Crime
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Van McDermid has written three brilliant non-fiction novels that are just as interesting as her fiction book series. Take, for example, “A Suitable Job for a Woman,” which is about the lives of women private investigators. 

She writes so many insightful things in this book that would interest not only her fans but anyone who is interested in knowing more about the world of detectives, PIs, and crime investigations. 

Other books, such as “My Scotland,” “Forensics: What Bugs, Burns, Prints, DNA and More Tell Us About Crime” offer great insights into the inner processes of crime investigations, methods, and the life of McDermid. 

Here are the three non-fiction books by McDermid. Since these are non-fiction books, there is no reading order to them. Pick any book you want to read:

Standalone Novels

Start with: A Place of Execution

A Place of Execution
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“A Place of Execution” is a dark and twisted psychological thriller with a multilayered plot that will keep you intrigued and glued to the book. McDermid has gone all out (and a bit gory) in writing this book, and it shows.

For people who are not comfortable with references to child abuse and other related crimes, stay away from this book. This book is quite extensive, with over 600 pages. But if you are a fan of dark and haunting psychological thrillers, then go for it.

Or if you want to choose something else by McDermid that’s not a part of any book series, there are many options to go with. There are five standalone novels by McDermid. Here are all of them:

Short Story Collections

Writing on the Wall and Other Stories
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If you are looking for something small and quick, then select any of the three great short story books by Van McDermid that exhibit her style of writing, great characters, and brilliantly written plots. 

Since these are short story collections, there is no reading order for them. Here are all the short story books by McDermid:

Graphic Novels

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The versatility of Val McDermid is shown in the variety of genres she has written. For younger readers, there are some great graphic novels. Here’s the list of all the graphic novels by McDermid:


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“Cleanskin” and “Life’s Too Short” are two great novellas by McDermid that readers should read if they want to get an idea of what her writing style is without getting into big book series.

These books are enjoyable and fun to read, perfect for quick evening reads while you enjoy coffee or tea. Here are the books arranged in release date order:


That was the entire list of all the books Val McDermid has written over decades. She specializes in writing investigative books on murder mysteries. The amount of research she has put in while crafting the stories deserves all the praise it gets.

So pick up the series you want to start with and get reading.

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