The Mermaids Singing by Val McDermid
2nd June 2020. 4 stars.
One of the joys of crime fiction is the number of series available, whether by established or new authors. While many police procedurals are similar or different versions of the same formula, some are more distinctive.
The Mermaids Singing, written in the 1990s, introduces psychological profiler Tony Hill. He’s a damaged character with a lot to prove, especially to police forces used to solving crimes by the book. After three murders the police refuse to connect, he’s brought in secretly to help identify and capture a serial killer. He’s teamed with Carol Jordan, an ambitious fast-track detective inspector, who’s also got a lot to prove to her male colleagues.
The killer, who’s obsessed with torture, is a meticulous planner, well ahead of the police. The trouble is, they won’t acknowledge him and give him the credit and publicity he feels he deserves. When Tony Hill enters the arena, you know there’s going to be a battle of intellects and wills. After all, this is a thriller at heart.
While the chapters relating to the killer were disturbing, they were restrained and essential to the thriller element of the story, increasing the tension as the story headed for an inevitable confrontation.
The characters of Jordan and Hill were well drawn and realistic. The pace was steady, building to an exciting climax with a neat, if predictable twist. It posed a few unanswered questions, but didn’t detract from my overall enjoyment.
I would certainly recommend the book as the writing is first rate, the story well told, and the atmosphere deadly but electric.
You always remember the first time. Isn’t that what they say about sex? How much more true it is of murder…
Up till now, the only serial killers Tony Hill had encountered were safely behind bars. This one’s different – this one’s on the loose.
Four men have been found mutilated and tortured. As fear grips the city, the police turn to clinical psychologist Tony Hill for a profile of the killer. But soon Tony becomes the unsuspecting target in a battle of wits and wills where he has to use every ounce of his professional nerve to survive.
A tense, beautifully written psychological thriller, The Mermaids Singing explores the tormented mind of a serial killer unlike any the world of fiction has ever seen.
Tags: Crime fiction, Police procedural, Psychological thriller, Thriller