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The Wire in the Blood (Tony Hill and Carol Jordan, Book 2) Paperback – 6 Feb 2006

4.5 out of 5 stars 208 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; New edition edition (6 Feb. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007217129
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007217120
  • Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 17.8 x 4.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (208 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 739,997 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


'The book [has] a sense of gravitas and intelligence utterly beyond lesser writers in the field … This is a wholly satisfying read which cleverly subverts tradition and expectation’ Ian Rankin, Scotland on Sunday

'This is a shocking book, stunningly exciting, horrifyingly good. It is so convincing that one fears reality may be like this and these events the awful truth' Ruth Rendell

'The Wire in the Blood is truly frightening, McDermid's capacity to enter the warped mind of a deviant criminal is shiveringly convincing … Tony Hill, driven and disturbed, is an appealing and original character. This is a writer who just gets better and better' The Times

'Terrific chiller from Manchester's answer to Thomas Harris … Thank God for Tony Hill and psychological profiling' Guardian

'Val McDermid is an accomplished storyteller, and this scary, fast-moving tale is engrossing' Daily Telegraph

From the Back Cover

Young girls are disappearing around the country. Everyone assumes they are teenage runaways, headed for the big city and bright lights. They vanish without trace – society’s disposable children. There is nothing to connect them to each other, let alone the killer whose charming manner hides a warped and sick mind.

Nobody moves around inside the messy heads of serial killers like Dr Tony Hill. Now heading up the recently founded National Profiling Task Force, he sets his team an exercise: they are given the details of thirty missing teenagers and asked to use their new techniques to discover whether there is a sinister link between any of the cases. Only one officer, Shaz Bowman, comes up with a concrete theory, but it is ridiculed by the rest of her group … until a killer murders and mutilates one of their number.

Could Bowman’s outrageous suspicion possibly be true? For Tony Hill, the murder of a member of his team becomes a matter for personal revenge. Aided by his previous colleague, Carol Jordan, he embarks upon a campaign of psychological terrorism – a game of cat and mouse where the roles of hunter and hunted are all too easily reversed.

Taut, suspenseful and shocking, 'The Wire in the Blood' is a ferociously readable thriller from one of Britain’s leading young novelists.

Val McDermid grew up in a Scottish mining community then read English at Oxford. She was a journalist for sixteen years, spending the last three years as Northern Bureau Chief of a national Sunday tabloid. She is now a full time writer and lives in south Manchester.

Val McDermid has written five crime novels featuring Kate Brannigan, the third of which, 'Crack Down', was shortlisted for the CWA’s Gold Dagger Award and the Anthony Award. She has also written a non fiction book, 'A Suitable Job for a Woman', lifting the lid on the world of female private detectives, and five novels featuring journalist sleuth Lindsay Gordon.

'The Mermaids Singing', which introduced clinical psychologist Tony Hill, won the 1995 CWA Gold Dagger Award for Best Crime Novel of the Year.


“Compelling and shocking”

“Terrifying but stylish, cruel and compassionate”

“Gripping, intelligent stuff”

“A superb psychological thriller”

“Think of psychological profiling and TV’s 'Cracker' springs to mind, but McDermid’s latest thriller goes one better … a must for all crime fiction lovers”

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By O E J TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 4 Nov. 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Val McDermid is one of the very best thriller writers of our time, and although I have only recently finished reading this 1997 novel, it must rank as representative of VM at the peak of her abilities. Wire in the Blood is really hard to fault, and it's one of the very few books that I have read that isn't something to do just to pass the time - no, it's worthy of top choice on any list of means of entertainment. Cancel all appointments and read this first, it's amazing value!

Val is confident enough to name the killer on the first page yet develop and sustain tension for the reader until the very last one. Furthermore she has the ability to create and develop several characters that the reader can truly believe in, and build up a sense of strong like or dislike for more than one. The bad guy is one Jacko Vance, our feelings of hatred for him perhaps cleverly manipulated by the author by way of his iconic status as an adored public hero within the context of the story. The question is how will he be stopped? Fortunately his adversaries are the Hill-Jordan team, which might sound a little Formula One for anybody new to this series but in fact Home Office profiler/psychologist Dr Tony Hill and DCI Carol Jordan are in every sense a well-matched pairing, each with their own wardrobe skeletons and worthy of keen reader attention be they working alone or together. It's perhaps worth mentioning that Tony Hill is possibly the only male character in this story who comes out with any sense of respect or integrity, outnumbered as he is by several shining female roles. Even then, his potential status as Leading Man is undermined by his apparent impotence and subsequent inability to consummate the relationship that exists between he and Carol Jordan, who we assume has no such incapacities.
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Format: Paperback
Dr. Tony Hill has finally put together a team of young, keen profilers. His National Profiling Task Force's first commission is to discover why certain teenagers have gone missing. Though their assignment is supposedly an exercise only, excitement builds within the group when clever, attractive Shaz Bowman comes up with the theory that the crimes have all been committed by famous t.v. personality, Jacko Vance. Vance, the villain of the novel, is plausibly drawn as an important media star who was once a top athlete who lost the use of his arm in a heroic rescue of a lorry driver whose vehicle had been involved in a multiple pile up on a foggy motorway. Vance is a likely serial killer having had a poor childhood, been rebuffed by his fiancee after the accident, and above all being a total control freak. As we learn not only why Vance commits the murders but how in The Mermaid's Singing type of gruesome graphic detail, we are drawn into a world of horror and violence. The fact that we learn early on the identity of the villain moves this novel out of the realm of the whodunit into that of the whydunit and howdunit. McDermid is clearly fascinated by the psychology of her characters and not interested in giving her readers an old-fashioned puzzle to solve. After the mutilation of a member of his group, Hill again teams up with Inspector Carol Jordan who is working in CID in East Yorkshire, encountering all the typical male prejudice of the blunt Yorkshiremen. While Carol helps Tony, she also works to find out who is setting fires in her town, using her own knowledge of a serial offender's signature. The two themes of the efficacy of justice and police efficiency, which are apparent in McDermid's other novels, are also much in evidence in this latest series.Read more ›
Comment 12 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback
To categorise this as a "Police Profiler" story underestimates the sheer power of Val McDermid's prose. For a UK reader, her domestic locations add a realism missing from the American equivalents.
This is not, however, a cosy English mystery along the lines of Agatha Christie or even Colin Dexter. It is a modern commentary on our willingness to be sucked in by the artificial goodness of media heroes and how we prefer to ignore people of greater intellect than our own on the basis that their insights are somehow suspect.
This is the second of McDermid's longer mature works and proves that the expert command of detail and timing shown in the first was no fluke. Definitely worth full marks.
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After reading The Mermaids Singing by the same author I was extremely hesitant about this one, the second in the series and hopefully not the last, could she do it again? The answer is an emphatic YES, another brilliant piece of fiction! The style of this book, which involves the same characters (Tony Hill and Carol Jordan) as the last one, is completely different in that the killer is unusually revealed before the story begins. Even so the tension Val McDermid creates as the team close in on their man is incredible. The refusal of the Police to believe that someone as famous and 'nice' as Jacko Vance could be involved in murder, despite the building evidence, is as frustrating for the reader as for Tony Hill. Will they save the latest victim despite having to work without the help of the Police?
While I still think that The Mermaids Singing has the edge this is another great book.
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