Val McDermid grew up in a Scottish mining community and then read English at Oxford. She was a journalist for sixteen years, spending the last three as Northern Bureau Chief of a national Sunday tabloid. She is now a full-time writer and divides her time between Cheshire and Northumberland.
McDermid (A Clean Break) enters new ground with a dark tale that is more complex, more carefully crafted and far more disturbing than her Kate Brannigan mysteries. By the time the police admit that Bradfield, a fictional city in northern England, has a serial killer, four men are already dead, each tortured in a different way and then abandoned outdoors in town. Baffled by a lack of physical evidence left by the meticulous sociopath, police bring in Tony Hill, a Home Office forensic psychologist who profiles criminals. Tony, who begins each day by ``selecting a persona,'' devours crime data with a fascination approaching admiration for the killer. The interest distracts him from obsessing over his own sexual impotence and over the ``exquisite torture'' of salacious phone calls he's been getting from a strange woman. DI Carol Jordan, a mercifully normal person who is Tony's liaison with the force, quickly grasps the profiling approach while keeping her policing instincts. Carol and Tony forge an uneasy relationship; but, as they pursue ``the Queer Killer,'' a cloddish policeman undermines them, a local reporter blows the case to get a byline and the murderer closes in on a new quarry. A warning: woven into this powerful story are journal entries in which the murder discusses torture in loving detail, an aspect that makes this graphic, psychologically terrifying tale almost as off-putting as it is impossible to put down. (Dec.) FYI: This novel won Britain's Gold Dagger Award for best crime novel of 1995.
'Truly, horribly good' Mail on Sunday 'Gripping, intelligent stuff' The Times 'A superb psychological thriller' Cosmopolitan
First published in Great Britain in 1995, this title marks a clean break from McDermid's Kate Brannigan/Lindsay Gordon series. Here, criminologist Dr. Tony Hill and Detective Inspector Carol Jordan search for an arrogant serial killer who tortures his victims and leaves no clues. A safe bet.