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Book Reviews

Spring 1997

The Wire in the Blood
book cover; Wire in the Blood by Val McDermid; 90x142
The Wire in the Blood, Val McDermid
This is a sequel to McDermid's serial killer/profiler novel Mermaid's Singing. Before you read it, and other books that take you into the twilight mind-worlds of cops and killers, you should decide just how well-informed you want to be.

I read this book in practically a sitting, learning that part of the development of a serial killer is the torturing and murdering small animals phase. My beloved cat Buffy the Vampire Slayer disappeared in the early hours of the following morning. Yep, I really needed more fodder for my ever-active imagination.

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But to the point, like all the McDermid books I've read before (fiction or non-fiction), this was something I was in a hurry to finish, and left me wanting another book, NOW!

Tony Hill has his first class of British profilers, and in an exercise one of his pupils, the ambitious Shaz Bowman believes she has discovered the real thing. While Tony and her fellow pupils dismiss her, we know better.

In Melbourne recently McDermid told of her nagging fear that she had taken all the suspense away by revealing the identity of the serial killer in the first couple of pages. There is, however, suspense in our wanting to know, "what happens next?", "who will be killed before the killer is caught?", "how will he be caught?, and since this is the nineties, "will he be caught?".

Maybe if Tony joins forces with his old ally. Carol Bowman is breaking in a new command in the sticks when she is asked to allow Tony's class to participate in searching for a serial arsonist. Before you can say "psychiatric disorder" Carol, Tony and the gang are offending the rich and famous, putting their careers in jepoardy and generally having a busy time.

As usual, the characters, their environment, their motivations, and the petty personal crises that we all are heir to are drawn with care. The book has a texture, not just a slick, formula story, but a slice of (unpleasant) life.

By comparison, Cannell's Final Victim doesn't quite make the grade. They make an interested pair of novels to read, albeit a touch disconcerting.

Although this is the sequel, you can read Wire in the Blood before Mermaid's Singing without losing anything of importance. This is the same for any of the Brannigan titles that you might see around.

by Ali Kayn

Also by Val McDermid:
A Suitable Job for a Woman.
Blue Genes
Coming up: An Interview with Val McDermid

Series Series, Kate Brannigan page

Check out the Sisters in Crime feature, Death on the Internet

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ISSN 1328-8008
Published in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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