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Val McDermid has written some wonderful crime fiction tales in her time but she is probably best known for the series involving psychological profiler Dr Tony Hill and DCI Carol Jordan, based in the fictional Yorkshire city of Bradfield. Expectations are bound to be high for this, the fifth in the 'Hill-Jordan' collection of novels so far, following hot on the heels of the fifth in the associated Wire in the Blood TV dramatisations. In effect there are two stories running in parallel with each other, one the hunt for a serial killer and the other the search for a mass murderer, each person displaying very different methods but sharing an obsession for careful planning and forward thinking.

Knowing that the author herself recently went through considerable pain and discomfort as a result of major knee surgery, I cannot help but regard her decision to place Tony Hill in a hospital bed recovering from - guess what - major knee surgery for very nearly the entirety of this story's time span as something of an indulgence on her part, possibly a gesture of thanks to those who treated and cared for her, I don't know, but I got the impression that this strand of the plot was slightly at odds with everything else that was going on. It did however enable the author to introduce Tony Hill's mother in a thread that promised interesting developments but ultimately faded into insignificance. On the other hand it did offer an insight into the complicated personality of Dr Hill, and in that respect the mission was successful. Of course, anyone who has seen the Wire in the Blood series on TV will visualise actor Robson Green as Tony Hill in this book, personally I did not find this a distraction at all as the actor plays the part very convincingly.

The modus operandi of the serial killer is compared to a hypothetical character in an Agatha Christie novel, something of a cop-out in my opinion, so as to confess to such an analogy before the reader can make such an accusation. But the thoughts, emotions and objectives of the bomber are by comparison absolutely contemporary, relevant and described with chilling effect. It is almost uncomfortable to read at times as it feels like a peep into the mind-set of individuals responsible for suicide bombings (successful or otherwise) which is of course very much a happening-right-now issue in the world we live in.

Beneath the Bleeding is described on the back cover as `The new Tony Hill thriller' but I consider that almost unfair, as in this, just as in the previous four in the series, Carol Jordan plays an equally important and leading role. At the end we are hardly any the wiser as to the status of their personal relationship, one which was rather strangely tested to the limit in this latest outing. I felt that Carol's animosity towards Tony for the majority of this story, in response to his efforts to solve the two murder hunts, lacked any real foundation. Carol and her team, despite their best efforts, continually made no progress at all while Tony was putting forward suggestions that Carol should have taken more seriously, based on their long-running professional respect for one another.

Hand on heart this is not quite up to the brilliant standard of THE MERMAIDS SINGING (the first in the Tony - Carol series, published in 1995) but no fan of Val's will be disappointed, she continues to demonstrate a highly professional approach to story-telling and she will surely gain many new admirers for her writing skills, especially in the crucial area of characterisation.
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on 30 July 2007
The latest book in the Tony Hill/Carol Jordan season. Leading on from the Torment of others, Tony and Carol share a house and a complex relationship of co-dependency and intellectual intimacy.
The beginning of the book sees Tony injured by one of the patients in his pyschiatric hospital, and hospitalized for most of the book. This leads to a change in the dynamic of their relationship, with Carol doubting his conclusions due to lack of trust in his ability to reason whilst recuperating. It also leads to Tony utilising Carol's team to assist his lines of enquiry, leading to further antagonism between them.

The new character introduced, Tony's unforgettable mother, Vanessa, tells us more about his troubled background.

The book was excellent with well realised characters and excellent dialogue as Val's readers have come to expect. The hospital storyline did lead to some frustration as much of the flow of the book seemed to be halted by this.

Also, there would be a query over how long such an intimate, but non consumated relationship can remain that way without it escalating into a very difficult position.

It has been left open for the next installment, bring it on, Val!
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on 27 September 2016
Title: Beneath the Bleeding
Series: Tony Hill & Carol Jordan (#5)
Author: Val McDermid
From: Amazon
Genre: Crime, Thriller
Release Date: 2007
Challenges: 2016 Read the Books You Buy, 2016 Prequel & Sequel Challenge (2 points)
Links: Goodreads - Amazon
Synopsis (from Goodreads): The residents of Bradfield are devastated when their star midfielder dies, the victim of a bizarre, seemingly motiveless murder. In a hospital, recovering from injuries, criminal profiler and psychologist Dr. Tony Hill struggles to make sense of the fragments of information he can gather in order to help his ally, Detective Chief Inspector Carol Jordan, bring a killer to justice. Then an explosion rips through a soccer stadium, leaving dozens dead and many more injured, and Jordan finds herself pushed to the margins of the investigation by the intelligence services. Despite the dark places in their relationship, Tony and Carol remain the best hope for uncovering the truth about an ever-increasing series of unspeakable crimes. Are they terrorist attacks, a personal vendetta . . . or something even more sinister?

While my previous reviews of the books in the Tony Hill & Carol Jordan series have been rereads, this is the first time that I have read Beneath the Bleeding (or any of the other books in the series going forward - I have the others on my kindle already). While this revolves around standalone crimes, I do believe that it is advantageous to have read the previous books in order to know the background and complexity of Carol and Tony's relationship. Reading The Torment of Others (book 4) also introduces Carol's team and gives background on them. This review should be spoiler free.

Some of the characters, most notably Carol, Tony and Paula, are recovering from traumatic incidents in their pasts still and I liked the way in which McDermid treats this. There is no quick fix and each of them suffers the lasting effects of their traumas. However at the same time it doesn't clog up the book, and there is plenty going on that keeps the plot moving.

I love Tony and Carol's relationship, I have done since the very beginning. They're basically in an odd place between being friends and being a couple, but they've been stuck there for years. It means that while their relationship does seem to progress, it isn't always in expected ways and that gives it a realistic edge. Plus they're too great characters individually too.

I'm really glad I reread The Torment of Others earlier this year though or I think I would have lost something in the 7 or 8 years since I read it the first time. A lot of the characters introduced as a part of Carol's team in the previous book returned in this one, and they worked well together. I liked having the secondary characters with a bit more to them too, and seeing Carol and Tony from a different perspective.

There were two main crimes going through this book. The first was the murder of a high profile athlete, and the seconf was an incident whose perpetrater was followed around by the narrative but it wasn't always clear what he was planning or why. Both plots unravelled towards the later part of the book and the resolutions worked well and were interesting.

This was a great read, and like normal I've ended up feeling a bit sad that its over now!
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VINE VOICEon 5 August 2007
I looked forward to reading this book having read all four previous books in the Carol/Tony series. It is an excellent top quality crime thriller yet it somehow felt that it was missing something compared to the previous books.

The story centres around an unexplained murder. Another serious crime takes place midway through the book, however the suspense is somewhat spoiled because the blurb on the cover tells you what this crime is and therefore you know it is going to happen and not be foiled. The story is paced well but is not quite as suspenseful as some of McDermid's previous books, perhaps because it doesn't have quite the same sense of immediate danger that 'The Last Temptation' and 'The Torment Of Others' had.

Throughout most of the book Tony is in hospital following an assualt at work. It was interesting to see how Tony coped with this but I was expecting something more to come out of the events at the very beginning of the book and the storyline featuring Tony's mother. As it stands it felt like the very first part of the book was simply a plot device to get Tony into hospital since there is very little reflection/repercussions from this event.

Carol's team from 'The Torment of Others' are back and it's great to see their characters being developed and the occasional reference to events from previous books. Carol has a slightly worrying habit which I thought would come to be important but again nothing happened about it.

Overall it was a good book with a satisfying ending. With any other author I would have given it five stars, however it's just not quite on a par with McDermid's superb earlier novels.
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on 8 July 2004
If you're interested in beginning to read the works of Val McDermid, this is not a book I'd recommend you start with. This may sound somewhat strange advice, after all, where better to start than the beginning? However, it must be said that McDermid's later works are generally considered to be of a higher calibre than her earlier publications.
This aside, the Lindsay Gordon novels are still a gripping read. The writing isn't so mature, but the story lines are gripping enough for it to be passed over. As the first of the series, this book introduces Lindsay as a character and gives a brief background that is not fully built on until the fourth novel, Union Jack. From the off, it's obvious that Lindsay isn't your average protagonist. Anyone who describes herself as a 'cynical socialist lesbian feminist journalist' has got to break the mould just a touch.
The book works very much to the formula of an Agatha Christie novel, with Lindsay and her new lover Cordelia running around gathering alibis, establishing motives, and narrowing down the list of suspects. The plot takes a number of twists and should leave you guessing until the last chapter as to the real culprit.
Alongside the murder investigation, emphasis is also put on Lindsay's developing relationship with Cordelia, which makes for an interesting sub-plot. Some of the dialogue is somewhat wooden, and McDermid never lets you forget where Lindsay's political and social ideals lie. Nevertheless, the characters are engaging and have a knack of making you care for them and their lives.
Overall, if you're looking to discover what all the recent rave reviews about McDermid are about, this isn't the book for you. But if you're interesting in an entertaining and enjoyable read from a strongly feminist slant, then this may well be the book for you.
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on 3 February 2008
I can't believe some people thought this wasn't Val at her best - why? Tony and Carol are satisfyingly and convincingly at loggerheads here, and Tony's confinement to a hospital add tension to the plot because he can't move (it's a bit like Hitchcock's 'Rear Window' - the sense of paralysis adds to the suspense). Great double-stranded plot, as readable as all Val's books. I didn't find Tony's icy mother entirely credible as a character, but still - few people can write thrillers as well as Val McD, and this one had a less guessable ending than 'The Torment of Others', in which I guessed early on who the psycho-killer was. Brilliant moment too, in this one, where one line of dialogue changes everything - can't say any more without giving away something crucial. Read it - it's fab!
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on 12 November 2007
I was looking forward to this book and eagerly dropped another half way through when this arrived.

Unfortunatley it differs from previous Tony/Carol books. There's no real plot as such and we don't get an interesting killer or insights into their psyche. With Tony being sidelined he gets little to do but be perfect and right in every point he makes. The killings - such as they are - aren't particularly note worthy and both plot strands are wrapped up almost as an afterthought in the last few pages.
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VINE VOICEon 8 July 2006
From what i gather this is the first book of Ms Mcdermids to ever be published (but dont quote me on that! :) ). A lot of people say she started off badly and matured into the great writer that she is but I can't agree with that. Yes, she has improved over the years but the characters and stories she tends to write now are darker than the initial Lindsay Gordon ones. This means a lot of wit and humour has been lost from the early years.

If you like a good laugh mixed in with your basic whodunnit then you'll love this book.

Lindsay Gordon is a journalist down on her luck and short for cash which leads her to take a job covering an event at an all girls school. Not long after a body is discovered and she gets embroiled in trying to solve the crime since one of her friends gets accused of the murder.

She manages to start up a relationship along the way too!

A good, relatively short read to relax to on a saturday afternoon.

Happy reading..
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on 28 August 2016
I don't think this was Val McDermid's best. The characters were built up quite well but I felt it went on a bit too long and became a bit repetitive going over the same clues. All in all a reasonable read
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on 7 July 2015
In the long wait for the new Tony Hill novel, as I am a particular fan of Val McDermid, I turned to this earlier book, with a journalist cum amateur detective as the main character. Unfortunately, "amateur" is the word that kept coming to mind. This was a story out of a Girls' Own comic, propelled more by wishful thinking than any real life logic or likelihood. Gordon herself comes across as an immature teenager, flaring up belligerent at the slightest provocation (and very often a provocation only in her own mind). Difficult to see how she could ever make friends, let alone keep the inexplicably loyal ones she has. Other characters are silly - people just don't behave like that (the headmistress of a prestigious - and very Establishment - private school asking a journalist to investigate, rather than the police?!! What's more, a journalist who is politically opposed to the concept of the school itself - I mean, really!)
And that is the nub of this book. It just doesn't stack up. The reasons for the characters' actions and conclusions are flimsy and superficial, and don't really ring true. It was so disappointing, like when that favourite bottle of wine is corked.
I now notice that it was published in 1987. I can only assume (and hope) that McDermid was still learning her craft at this stage. Though I am not inclined to try any others in this early series.
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