Karen Pirie review: Lauren Lyle is a star to watch

Karen Pirie -- Courtesy of BritBox
Karen Pirie -- Courtesy of BritBox /

If you’re looking for something to get you through Droughtlander, look no further than Karen Pirie on BritBox. Here’s our review of Season 1.

All Outlander fans are looking for ways to get through the break. The good news is that BritBox has us covered time and time again. The latest offering is Karen Pirie starring Lauren Lyle. This is a crime drama, but it offers us much more than a whodunit mystery.

The story takes place in two time periods. The first is in 1995, when the crime happened. The second is in the present day with Lyle’s Karen Pirie investigating the cold case in the hope of finally catching the killer.

This is based on Val McDermid’s books, and there is hope for a second season of the series. You’ll certainly want it once you watch the first season. There are only three episodes, but they’re all 120 minutes long, so it’ll feel like a full TV season.

Karen Pirie is a refreshing take on the crime drama

Something that immediately stands out about Karen is that she’s nothing like the usual detectives we meet. Usually, we meet a man who is in the middle of his career. He has a couple of divorces under his belt, drinks a lot to cope with the job, and is generally a grumpy human with no friends.

That’s not the case in this series. Karen is fresh in her career, and she is ready to make a name for herself. She wants to solve the case, and not just for her own career. This becomes something important due to the nature of the crime. As a woman, she knows only too well what it’s like if one thing goes wrong on one night out.

At the same time, most leading women in TV shows are the “good girls.” We don’t get many flaws, but there are plenty of them when it comes to Karen. She’s sarcastic and doesn’t always fit in, but she is also a sexually-empowered woman. There is everything to love about her, and it makes for a refreshing take on the crime drama genre.

There is no doubt that Lauren Lyle is a star to watch. As Outlander fans, we’ve known that for years, and it’s amazing watching her grow in the world of TV and movies.

A twisty case with a modern-day element

If you’ve read the first book in the Karen Pirie series, you’ll know the case. In the books, the original case happened in 1978 and we pick up 25 years later with Karen solving it. This is a world without cell phones being everywhere. The internet was still relatively new, and there was still talk of the Millennium bug.

The TV series brings the story to the modern age. This case reopens all thanks to a true crime podcaster who wants to get to the answers. The characters now have the internet at their disposal, but is that always going to be a good thing?

The best thing is the modern changes don’t take away from the story itself. There is still the creepiness to the original case, and we still have this murder mystery to solve before it’s too late. Karen still uses normal policework to get to the bottom of it all. There’s just that element of Only Murders in the Building thrown in.

Opting for three, two-hour-long episodes was perfect. The case is contained well, bringing us the parts of the book that we needed, offering time to fully develop the characters, and wrap things up before things get stale.

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Karen Pirie is coming to BritBox on Tuesday, Oct. 25.