When is Val McDermid series Karen Pirie on TV? What’s it about?

The cold case crime novels are getting a TV adaptation

Crime author Val McDermid

Book lovers and crime fans rejoice! An upcoming ITV series will adapt the work of Val McDermid, whose novels have sold 16 million copies worldwide.


Her popular Karen Pirie series has been going since 2003 – so there will be plenty of material for the show to work with.

Here’s everything we know about Karen Pirie so far…

When is Karen Pirie on TV?

A release date for Karen Pirie is yet to be confirmed.

The series was announced in February 2020, with filming taking place over the following months. Watch this space!

Which book is Karen Pirie based on?

The show is based on The Distant Echo by Val McDermid, the first book in her long-running Karen Pirie series.

McDermid’s novels have been adapted before; her Tony Hill and Carol Jordan series were used as the basis for ITV crime drama Wire in the Blood.

What is Karen Pirie about?

The Karen Pirie novels follow a young Scottish detective in the Scottish university town of St. Andrew’s.

The series will see her reopen the investigation into a 1995 murder case after the popularity of a provocative true-crime podcast, after no charges were made despite suspicion falling on the three drunken students who found her body.

Twenty-five years later, Karen will see if these men know more than they previously let on, uncover several flaws in the initial investigation and find resistance from the police force itself from the officers who led the original inquiry.

Emer Kenny (Getty)
Emer Kenny (Getty)

Eastenders writer and actress Emer Kenny will pen the adaptation, which will come from the producers of Bodyguard and Line of Duty.


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.”