Val McDermid: Insidious Intent review – dark and expert crime writing…

Tony Hill and Carol Jordan are back, on the hunt for the ‘Wedding Killer’

Val McDermid has written close on 30 award-winning thrillers and suspense novels, in four series, since the late 1980s, all of them featuring a lead female protagonist. She herself worked as a journalist and a crime reporter, and the atmosphere is grittily realistic.

Insidious Intent is the tenth volume in the only McDermid series to feature a partnership – one both emotional, albeit reticent and repressed at times, and professional. Once again, as in all these novels, the title is a phrase from TS Eliot, here “The Love Song of J Albert Prufrock”:

Streets that follow like a tedious argument
 
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question…

Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”

Let us go and make our visit.

McDermid, once an English scholar, has a captivating rhythm to her writing – perhaps because of her underlying apprehension of poetry, and affinity with her chosen poet and his ability to plumb human nature. To set the scene, she quotes from De Quincey’s On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts. The interplay of understanding and collaboration between the high-ranking policewoman Carol Jordan, and the clinical psychologist, a profiler of criminals, Tony Hill, is crucial.

Both are middle-aged adults with complex characters and complex histories. They are people of integrity, but all too aware that things are never black and white. Both are heavily compromised by past actions, undertaken perhaps for the best of motives but marred by misjudgements, as well, of course, by the law of unintended consequences.

They are utterly human, weighed down with difficult pasts and unresolved grief and conflict. Tony is more or less living in Carol’s renovated barn, once home to her murdered brother and sister. Their relationship is platonic but stressed, as both may want more; she is also an alcoholic who has gone cold turkey and is desperate, as the story unfolds, for a drink. The reader can practically feel her physical and mental pain as she longs for her fix of choice. Carol is also being stalked by an investigative journalist who seems partly motivated by malice. Lurking behind the present sequence of events is a spectrum of past failures and successes in dealing with the most horrible violent crimes, some psychopathic in nature.

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Vera creator Ann Cleeves in South Shields…

BY TOM PATTERSON

Crime story fans are being offered an evening with an award-winning North East novelist sas she shares her writing secrets.
Author Ann Cleeves, whose best-selling books – Shetland and Vera – have both been made into TV series’, will be at South Shields’ The Word: National Centre for the Written Word on September 8.

The event will see Ann interviewed, discuss her latest novel from the Vera series: The Seagull, and answering questions about her successful career as an author.

Since starting writing 30 years ago, Ann has gone on to publish more than 30 books, with some of her bestsellers being adapted for both radio and TV.

Seven series of Vera, the ITV adaptation starring Brenda Blethyn, have been broadcast in the UK, and sold worldwide. There have also been three series of Shetland, based on her Shetland novels – and a fourth is in preparation.
Tania Robinson, Head of Marketing and Culture for The Word: National Centre for the Written Word said: “September is a brilliant month for crime fiction fans at The Word.

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Book review: Val McDermid shows no sign of a lost touch in Insidious Intent…

In the 30 years since her first novel was published, Val McDermid has written 30 books, both fiction and non-fiction. She shows no sign of slowing down, with her 10th novel featuring Dr Tony Hill and DCI Carol Jordan hitting the shelves this week with their most bewildering case yet.

A car is on fire on a remote road. Inside is the body of a woman. The Regional Murder Investigation Team, a newly created unit headed by Jordan, is called in to solve the mystery. Unfortunately, the fire brigade reached the car first and washed away potential evidence while putting the blaze out.

Then another woman is found in similar circumstances. Forensically aware, the killer leaves no clues to his identity or his reasons for killing two very different women. With the press on their heels, and a disgruntled senior police officer willing her to fail, Jordan and her team are under pressure to solve the case.

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Category: Interviews (page 4 of 19)