Val McDermid, Wire in the Blood
In recent years Val McDermid has become one of the most popular of the female crime writers. She progressed from Scottish journalist Lindsey Gordon whodunits to feisty red-headed Kate Brannigan crime investigations in Manchester, and then a third series, the profiler Dr Tony Hill. Her versatile repertoire includes historical mystery and she is an allround enthusiast for crime fiction as her reviews will confirm. This is the second Tony Hill novel, the title made famous by the television series. The creator of Dalziel & Pascoe and one of the great talents of modern crime Reginald Hill did the appreciation.
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In recent years Val McDermid has become one of the most popular of the female crime writers. She have published twenty-five novels and along the way has received many awards – notably, the CWA Gold Dagger for The Mermaid’s Singing (1995) and the Diamond Dagger for her body of work in 2010.
What is interesting looking back is her development as a writer and how she pitches a book. Most crime and mystery writers start with a background and situations of experience which comes from what is familiar. Val began with a Scottish journalist narrator Lindsey Gordon, and stories that were contemporary whodunits.
The whodunit was still pretty much the pre-eminent mode of detective/crime fiction back in 1987 when Report for Murder was issued. She moved up a gear or two with the feisty red-headed Kate Brannigan PI series based in Manchester. Val was now reaching for the readership that was formed around the “women on the case” sub-genre – the pattern was found in the characters such Anna Lee in Britain and Kinsey Millhone in the USA. Then came a move away from her previous work and a most courageous step. The Mermaid Singing introduced police profiler Dr Tony Hill and Val found a way to get below the surface of social reality by stepping into the area of which Ruth Rendell and Margaret Yorke had occupied with urban chillers – peopled with weidos underneath the surface of ordinary everyday folk. Val McDermid has also demonstrated how versatile she is with historical mysteries and we must not forget that she is an all round enthusiast for crime fiction as her reviews of others will confirm. This is the second Tony Hill novel, the title made famous by the television series.
Plotline: Young girls are disappearing around the country. Everyone assumes they are teenage runaways, headed for the big city and bright lights. They vanish without trace — society’s disposable children, There is nothing to connect them to each other, let alone the killer whose charming manner hides a warped and sick mind. Nobody moves around inside the messy heads of serial killers like Dr Tony Hill. Now heading up the recently founded National Profiling Task Force, he sets his team an exercise: they are given the details of thirty missing teenagers and asked to use their new techniques to discover whether there is a sinister link between any of the cases. Only one officer comes up with a concrete theory, but it is ridiculed by the rest of her group … until a killer murders and mutilates one of their number. Could the outrageous suspicion possibly be true? For Tony Hill, the murder of a member of his team becomes a matter for personal revenge. Aided by his previous colleague, Carol Jordan, he embarks upon a campaign of psychological terrorism – a game of cat and mouse where the roles of hunter and hunted are all too easily reversed.
The Wire in the Blood is Val’s most famous book for it carries the weight of the highly successful television series with Robson Green and Hermione Norris. It was issued in an edition of 85 numbered and signed copies and a small number of presentation copies. The creator of Dalziel & Pascoe and one of the great talents of modern crime Reginald Hill did the appreciation for this edition. Val McDermid has herself written perceptive appreciations of Carol O’Connell, Julia Wallis Martin, Ruth Rendell and Karin Slaughter. She also had a short story in the anthology No Alibi. The featured image is of the deluxe presentation copy. If interested do let us know.