New drama based on Val McDermid’s cold case series coming to ITV

Scottish detective Karen Pirie is the lead character in several novels

Emer Kenny

ITV has commissioned a three-part drama series based on a book by Scottish writer Val McDermid.

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Karen Pirie, the drama’s working title, will follow a “refreshingly normal and charmingly unfashionable” police investigator who is promoted to Scotland’s Historic Cases Unit, according to the show’s synopsis.

From there, she will reopen a murder case from nearly 25 years ago, where a teenage barmaid was stabbed to death and three drunken students were suspects in the crime.

Her pursuit of justice will pit her against the very officers who led the original investigation, when it emerges that mistakes were made in its conduct.

The story is based on The Distant Echo, a novel published in 2003 that has been adapted for the screen by Emer Kenny (Harlots and EastEnders).

Kenny said: “From the moment I read that Karen Pirie orders a Bacardi Breezer as her after-work drink (other brands of alco-pop are available) I knew that she was the detective for me. Val [McDermid] is the queen of crime for good reason and I’m honoured to be bringing her creation to a TV audience.”

McDermid is a prolific crime writer who also wrote the Tony Hill book series, which were the basis of Robson Green television show Wire in the Blood.

“I’m sure this adaptation will bring Karen many new fans as well as delighting her existing ones. Karen and the Historic Cases Unit are in very safe hands,” McDermid added.

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At the time of writing, Karen Pirie has no confirmed air date or cast.