The Mermaids Singing by Val McDermid – Book Review


This is the first of the Hill/Jordan series that were adapted for television under the name Wire in the Blood. The Mermaids Singing won the Crime Writers’ Association Gold Dagger for Best Crime Novel of the Year.

Tony Hill is a profiler in the UK in the mid-nineties and faces a police force who are not all ready to accept this type of assistance in their cases. However, when the police are finally prepared to admit that the several bodies discovered in the gay district of Bradfield, they take him on to advise them. He is put to work with DI Carol Jordan, a rising star in the department, but their relationship quickly becomes complicated. And as they discover more and more gruesome facts about the cases, the hunt intensifies.

It’s extremely graphic; that is one thing that you really need to know going in. The killer is twisted, and McDermid is not at all afraid to get stuck right in. Plus, there are cops who are so flawed, and with some flaws very familiar in depiction of police in the nineties (homophobic, racist, only slowly moving out of the world where that was acceptable, and lazy, always looking to set someone up rather than do the hard yards to get the case solved). Then there are the flaws of Tony Hill – oh so many, and so unpleasant.

I’m very pleased to have started on this series as I do like a good quick crime book and I am very interested to see where McDermid takes these characters.

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