I am a big fan of Val McDermid's works. No sooner have I finished one novel I find myself reaching for the next. I have read all the Tony Hill books and now all the stand-alone thrillers, the latest being Killing the Shadows. I'm sad to say it was my least favourite.
I ploughed through the first two-hundred-odd pages with growing excitement at the story's multi-layered action and the possibilities that lay ahead. Crime writers being picked off one by one, ritualistic murder in Spain, a good honest cop's efforts to put right a previously-botched murder investigation, and, playing quietly in the background, the unsolved murder of the central character's sister. Great stuff! I ploughed on.
My mistake, and the reason for my disappointment, was in thinking that all the events would remain relevant. Looking back it does seem unlikely that so much content could. How could so much believeably tie together in the end?
The second half of the story was a let down. I can see the faint relevance of the Spanish murder investigation to the story, but did it warrant so much attention early on in the book? The revealing of the crime-writer murder was surprising, but in a flat and disappointing way, and the motive for murder is far from convincing. The final confrontation scene is a little too unbelievable and the 500-page build up deserved better.
Val McDermid is a great writer - The Distant Echo in particular stands out as a truly rollercoaster of a ride right to the last page - but if you reading her for the first time I'd skip Killing the Shadows and start elsewhere to avoid disappointment. She has done much better.