There is a reason Val McDermid has been crowned Queen of Crime, the evidence why is in every line of this book.

As usual I shall do the regular disclaimer that she is one of my favourite authors, always on my 'must-read' list. But there is a reason she has stayed there so long, and that's because she's bloomin' brilliant. I never get the sense of her simplifying procedures for her readers, and in fact I love that she is such a wordsmith that I generally look up the meaning of at least one of the words contained in her books.

And so to the book! Out of Bounds is a great story - totally immersive and engaging. Karen Pirie is a great leading character, and the way she and Jason "the Mint" Murray tiptoe around the death of Karen's partner Phil, is both painful and touching, and Phil's ghost echoes through the story. (Can I just tell you I have only this minute worked out Jason's nickname! Honestly. In fairness, it was a bad couple of fog days - but even so...duh!) The cold case, and recent crimes are equally intriguing, and I enjoyed Karen's feistiness and inability to ignore her suspicions even if it did land her in trouble.

The side plot of the refugees was sympathetically written and brought to life some of the problems they face in this country. I don't understand how refugees are supposed to survive without any form of help, it seems an unfair circle they have to go through, especially when like the refugees here - many of them are skilled and actually want to contribute to their communities. Anyway, needless to say there is enough plot here to keep anyone well entertained.

See I feel now like everything I write just comes back down to me enthusing about Val McDermid, pretty much in the same way as my rant about Mark Billingham. I know even before I start reading that I'm in for a treat, she has a total grasp of everything - plot, setting, characters, and she moulds them like a sculptor.

I have suddenly realised that I've told you very little about the book, but in all honesty I don't really need or want to. With this, as with any other Val McDermid book, you buy it or hunt it out at the library, then sit back and enjoy. You will never be disappointed.