The fourth book in Val McDermid’s successful series featuring psychologist and profiler Tony Jordan and DCI Carol Jordan opens with Jordan on extended leave following the events that took place in the previous book. She is approached to head up a new squad based at her old station in Bradfield which will focus on high profile cases and, when there aren’t any of those, will look at cold cases. Just as they receive a break in a recent cold case involving two missing boys a new murder requires the team’s immediate attention. A prostitute has been brutally tortured and murdered in exactly the same way as several women murdered two years previously. The only problem is that irrefutable forensic evidence convicted a man for those murders and he’s still locked up, having not spoken a word in two years.
I don’t know if the violence in some crime fiction has gotten worse or I have simply had my fill but I just don’t want to read another graphic description of the brutal rape, torture and murder of women (and it is almost always women). Is it not enough for the plot that a woman is raped and murdered? Is a story really made better by having a razor-blade impregnated object used for the purpose? Does each murder really need to be more bloody, more awful, more unimaginably painful and degrading than the last? For this book anyway the answer to that question seemed to be yes.
The worst thing is that not only did the violent depictions and language add nothing of value to the book but they weren’t in place of decent plotting and characters as would be the case with lesser writers The plot is cleverly constructed with all the threads being kept active at the right pace. There was a good balance of story advancement and personal interactions between the team members and the relationship between Carol and Tony Hill is now so fraught with emotional problems on both sides that it could generate a book of its very own. The razor-blade rapes and crude language detracted from these elements in the same way that people who swear constantly lose any capacity to underline a particularly strong emotion or point with a single well-placed curse word.
What about the audio book?
Vari Sylvester is a terrific narrator and because she is female I didn’t keep forming an image of Robson Green as the character of Tony Hill which I did when I listened to an earlier book in this series narrated by a man.
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
My rating 2.5/5
Author website http://www.valmcdermid.com/
Narrator Vari Sylvester
Publisher ISIS Audio Books 
Length 13 hours 54 minutes
Format audio CD
Book Series #4 in the Tony Hill/Carol Jordan series
Source Borrowed from the library