Val McDermid’s Karen Pirie Scottish Detective Series to Begin Filming

In some cases, we earn commissions from affiliate links in our posts.

Val McDermid's Karen Pirie Scottish Detective Series to Begin Filming 5
  • Save


Scottish crime writer Val McDermid is about to see another one of her detectives come to life on screen in the very near future. In the past, her works have been adapted into Place of Execution and Wire in the Blood (with Robson Green), but this is the first to be adapted within the last 10 years.

If you're a fan of tartan noir, you'll definitely want to check this one out.

What is the Karen Pirie Series About?

The Karen Pirie series is based on the cold case murder mysteries of “tartan noir” author Val McDermid, and they're primarily set in the lovely Scottish university town of St. Andrews (where Will and Kate met). Karen is an exceedingly normal, unglamorous young woman with a quick mouth and clever mind. 

After a promotion to Police Scotland's Historic Cases Unit, she's assigned to reopen the investigation of a young woman's murder 25 years prior. It's become the subject of a true crime podcast, and while suspicion originally fell on the three male students who found the body, they were never charged. 

As she carries out her investigation, she'll uncover an investigation full of problems. Those discoveries will put her in conflict with the same officers who originally worked the case.

What Do We Know About the Karen Pirie TV Series (So Far)?

Val McDermid's Karen Pirie Scottish Detective Series to Begin Filming 6
  • Save
Ruins of St Andrews Castle, Fife, Scotland, United Kingdom (the area is the primary setting for the Karen Pirie series)

First off, we know the series is primarily based in St. Andrews, Scotland – though in the books, some cases do take Inspector Pirie to other areas. 

The television series will be based on the first novel in the series, The Distant Echo. It's been commissioned by ITV's Head of Drama, Polly Hill. 

Karen Pirie will be executive produced by Simon Heath, World Production’s CEO.

Cast details haven't yet been released, but casting sites updated it as “filming in April 2021” in late December 2020, so it sounds like things are well underway and more details should emerge soon.

It's too early to have any details about premiere dates or streaming services, but we'll update when we know more.

Emer Kenny (Harlots, Save Me, Eastenders) is a writer and actress who will be writing the adaptation for screen. Many will know her as Bunty from Father Brown. Of the series, she 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 is the queen of crime for good reason and I’m honoured to be bringing her creation to a TV audience, especially for ITV which has been home to some of my favourite detective shows, from Broadchurch to Prime Suspect. Of course, I’m delighted to be working with World Productions again, who really know their way around a crime drama.

What Books are in the Inspector Karen Pirie Series?

Val McDermid's Karen Pirie Scottish Detective Series to Begin Filming 7
  • Save

To date, there are six novels in the Inspector Karen Pirie series, with the most recent one published in October 2o2o.

  • The Distant Echo – In the wee hours of the morning, a group of St. Andrews students stumble upon the body of a young woman who's been raped, stabbed, and left for dead. Twenty-five years later, a cold case review coincides with a new set of murders – this time, someone's targeting the students who found the body all those years earlier.
  • A Darker Domain – When a young woman reports her father missing, DI Karen Pirie (and head of the Fife police Cold Case Review Team) isn't interested until she learns the man disappeared during the 1984 miners' strike.
  • The Skeleton Road – In historic Edinburgh, develoeprs are preparing to turn a Victorian Gothic building into luxury flats. They're not expecting the skeletal remains found within. Cold case detective Karen Pirie will soon find connections leading to possible war crimes in the former Yugoslavia.
  • Out of Bounds – When a teenage joyrider crashes and ends up in a coma, a blood test reveals ties to an unsolved murder from 22 years earlier. At the same time, Inspector Karen Pirie is drawn to a mystery she shouldn't be touching – one rooted in a terrorist bombing two decades prior.
  • Broken Ground – In the Highlands, a woman finds a buried treasure…but she also finds a body. DCI Karen Pirie will be dealing with both this case and another involving domestic violence.
  • Still Life – When a lobster fisherman finds a dead body in the Firth of Forth, DCI Karen Pirie is drawn into a case involving a long-off disappearance, art forgery, and secret identities. At the same time, she's investigating a traffic accident that's led to the discovery of a body in a suburban garage.

Will You Be Tuning in for Karen Pirie?

Though Wire in the Blood was occasionally a little darker than what I usually prefer, I do love a good Scottish mystery, so I'll definitely be tuning in. Will you give it a go? Share your thoughts in the comments!


Save it to Pinterest!

Val McDermid's Karen Pirie Scottish Detective Series to Begin Filming 8
  • Save
Val McDermid's New Scottish Mystery Series, Karen Pirie, to Begin Filming in 2021

Get the Free British TV Newsletter
Stay up to Date on Your Favourite Shows and all things British TV

Get updates on new shows, premiere dates, new British TV lists, & more!


  1. I will definitely be tuning in, Val McDermid is my favourite author by far.I have the complete box set of Wire in the Blood which is brilliant and the Karen Pirie novels are also excellent in their own way.The first novel The Distant Echo has excellent twists throughout.

  2. Look forward to seeing how it turns out. Loved ‘Wire In The Blood’. It was the first thing we saw Robson Green in, as well as Hermione Norris. Quite dark, but riveting.
    This has an ‘Unforgotten’ sound to it, but with a Scottish flavor. We’ve not found a Scottish show yet that we didn’t love 🙂 Especially intrigued to see that “Bunty” is the one adapting it for the screen! Can’t wait to see where it turns up, and look forward to more details as they become available.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.