Val McDermid — The Wire in the Blood

There were numerous departures in this book from the episode of Wire in the Blood that was based upon it, so I was able to read it and have no idea what was going to happen, which is always a good thing with a mystery novel. Whether or not I liked it more or less than the television show, I’m not quite sure… and it will be hard to explain without spoiling either one.

The Wire in the Blood reunites DCI Carol Jordan and Dr. Tony Hill, outside of Bradfield. Hill is heading a unit of police detectives being trained as profilers in order to better pursue serial offenders. Jordan has been promoted, and is heading her own new squad. In the background is Jacko Vance, a golden boy and serial killer of young girls. Hill’s students, in the course of their research, stumble upon a “cluster” of similar missing girls that will end up leading them on the right track, but with tragic consequences…

What I like about these books is that while we know who the killer is, whether he will be caught, and how, is what drives the plot. It’s not someone out of left field, but he’s a tricky character, and we can follow along with the police as they desperately try and apprehend a monster. McDermid’s writing is taut with suspense, though again a little dated, definitely a product of the ’90s. The violence is sickening, which is a little hard to read, but again it’s a balance of attempting to make sure the reader is invested in the outcome vs. making it unpalatable to read.

It’s Hill and Jordan that take the center stage, however, their intuitive and analytical take on the murders, as well as their interesting personalities. There are hints of Hill’s past tangled tantalizingly in front of the reader. The ending, I think, I liked better in the television show (and it’s frustrating because I don’t want to say exactly WHY), but the book might be truer to life, and as sad as that is, it definitely made for suspenseful reading, where everything still remains at stake…


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