It seems hard to believe now, but there was a day when Val McDermid was just another crime writer. True, her Kate Brannigan novels were highly accomplished and well-honed pieces of work, and if McDermid had written nothing else, they would have assured her a solid place in the history of the genre. But Beneath the Bleeding
(as with most of the other work the author has done more recently) is a much more ambitious and considerable novel, written on a grander scale, tackling pertinent social issues and (most importantly) developing two highly memorable characters: forensic profiler Tony Hill and his police ally DCI Carol Jordan.
The new book, as disturbing as it is compulsively readable, continues to add new levels to the psychological thriller -- something that McDermid seems able to do in every new book. A star footballer has been murdered in the city of Bradfield. Shortly after, an explosion rocks the town's football stadium, wreaking mass carnage. In the current climate of fear regarding home-grown terrorism, it is inevitable that suspicion falls in this direction but is money -- or something else -- involved here? Such as a bloody working out of some kind of revenge scenario against the football team? Needless to say, this is quite a different case from those that Tony Hill and Carol Jordan have previously been involved with, and the customary relationship (swinging between confrontation and admiration) is worked out with all the rigour that we expect from McDermid. Of course, this is an author who always has more fish to fry than the simple exigencies of the crime novel, and astringent commentaries on many aspects of British society are provocatively incorporated here (always, though, inter alia -- never at the expense of a forward-moving narrative). If you're a fan of the Wire in the Blood TV series, you should do yourself a favour and investigate the original novels such as Beneath the Bleeding. They offer a considerably more involving experience. --Barry Forshaw
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
‘McDermid is at the peak of her murderous craft’ Mirror
'The Queen of serial killers in this country keeps her end up…. few can scoop Val on throat-clutching narrative… Marvellous' Daily Mail
‘All the craft, panache and pace that we have come to expect from this outstanding writer… Vintage stuff: unplug the phone, lock the door and prepare to read in a sitting’ Guardian
‘Peerless … One of the world’s finest crime writers, McDermid is currently at the top of her game’ Glasgow Herald
‘McDermid’s writing gets better and better’ Spectator