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on 20 November 2013
Northern England has become a very scary place in several bestselling British crime writers' contemporary novels based on true events. David Peace's quartet which began with Nineteen Seventy Four (Red Riding Quartet, Book One) tells of police corruption set against a backdrop of the Yorkshire Ripper murders that occurred between 1975 and 1980. Scottish crime writer Val McDermid explores the she knows well... in her series of novels loosely grouped together as A WIRE IN THE BLOOD featuring hardboiled DCI Carol Jordan and eccentric psychological profiler Tony Hill. She bases her most infamous villain Jacko Vance on real-life Sir James Wilson Vincent Saville, an English television personality and charity fundraiser. A year after his death, Jimmy Saville was exposed as one of Britain's most prolific pedophiles and molester of underage girls; McDermid had interviewed Saville in 1977.

CROSS AND BURN is the eighth installment of the excellent Carol Jordan/Tony Hill series. At the end of the last disappointing installment The Retribution, this electrifying detective duo had severed both their personal and professional relationship. They are trying to pick up the pieces of their lives destroyed by Vance who had wreaked havoc after escaping from prison. Carol Jordan has resigned from the crack squad at Bradfield's Major Incident Team that she led and is gutting the restored barn where her brother Michael was slaughtered. Tony Hill is living on a houseboat after Vance burns the estate he inherited from his father that he had hoped to share with Carol.

This installment is narrated in part by Paula McIntyre, a former member of Jordan's MIT squad, now promoted to Detective Sergeant who becomes the chief interviewer for a recent case assigned to a new boss, DCI Alex Fielding. Two women, blonde hair, blue eyes, have been savagely beaten and murdered. Same haircut, similar height and build, professional women "who go to work suited up"...dead ringers for ex- DCI Carol Jordan. Paula enlists the help of her friend and profiler, Tony Hill, to find the killer. And looks up her old boss when DCI Fielding arrests a suspect whose DNA is found on the clothing of the first victim.

As Anthony "Tony" Valentine Hill languishes in jail as a major suspect, Paula searches for Carol Jordan. Will Jordan stop burning the bridges of their former relationship and come to Hill's aid?

A late night call to the best criminal defense attorney in Northern England and a Deep Throat meeting in a deserted city-centre car park begins an exciting search for the real killer using "old fashioned coppering with new fashioned methods." Several other members of Jordan's former squad are enlisted to help. And the fans of one Val McDermid are left with 130 pages of pure reading joy!

Welcome back...queen of crime Val McDermid
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 10 October 2013
This is a book of two halves: half is excellent as we follow the emotional fall-out of the past which has left Carol Jordan and Tony Hill both severely traumatised and alienated from each other and from the police force. In this part of the book, McDermid shows herself to be a sensitive, emotionally-intelligent writer with a fine streak of darkness running through her fictional world.

The other half is a run-of-the-mill psychopathic, misogynist serial-killer plot where, once again, we are shown a man who hates women and wants to re-make them into Stepford wives. The gratuitous sexual violence is sickening, and the plotting feels half-baked: it's obvious from the start who the perpetrator is because the clues are clumsily dropped and, apart from a single red-herring, there's no-one else it could be. The `investigation' is also all a bit pat, and leaves loose ends (the fingerprint on the phone?).

So this is like a very good book and a mediocre `me-too' one crushed together. I can't work out why McDermid falls back into the generic and derivative when she is clearly capable of so much better: a sop to her long-time fans? publisher pressure? who knows. But the contrast between the two halves demonstrate that she is a far better novelist than this book overall shows.

(This review is from an ARC courtesy of the publisher)
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on 27 September 2015
Four stars for this because I missed the interaction of the MIT. Unavoidable, due to the path that this tale takes us down. That said, once more a great read. A serial killer is at work again, and this time Paula is on her own with a new boss who can't see beyond what is in front of her, no 'thinking out of the box, no empathy' no team support from her recently disbanded MIT colleagues., or Carol Jordan and Tony Hill. We pick these last two up with their personal problems on going, still to be resolved; will they? This killer is twisted and heartless and hates women. It needs the skills of Tony Hill and Carol Jordan and the MIT working together to resolve these murders, but these things are not possible. How will Paula McIntyre make it so? A great read, showing at times the frustrations of having to work within budgets when lives are at stake, also the difficulties women police officers have with some of their own male colleagues' attitudes to them, which runs through the series of books.
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on 16 January 2016
Val McDermid can do no wrong when it comes to writing a novel.But the Tony and Carol(Wire In The Blood)series are the ones her fans look forward to the most and I'm no exception.They are,in my opinion,THE best duo to grace crime fiction.The honest and naturally written relationship between them,the ups and downs,the emotional punches we've endured, the tender moments we've shared with them,over the years has become just as important and gripping as the fiendishly dark plots they've been embroiled in.When you finish one of Val's books you actually feel a little like you're saying goodbye to couple of friends.Until next time.Which can never come quick enough.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 1 November 2013
DCI Carol Jordan has given in her badge and been replaced with ambitious DCI Fielding. Her 'bagman', also a central character of the novel, is DS Paula MacIntyre from the Major Incident Team. Profile psychologist Tony Hill has become detached from detective work since the Jacko Vance killings of Carol's brother and his wife. Carol blames Tony who accepts his error of judgement. Grief and guilt have driven them apart. Val McDermid describes their individual feelings and predicaments beautifully, reflecting on aspects of their longstanding relationship. A serial killer is now on the loose. His victims bear a remarkable resemblance to Carol Jordan. His sadistic torture of his abducted women does not make for comfortable reading. After a friend of Paula's goes missing, Paula uses her initiative to investigate, crossing her new boss who is blinkered to recognising the obvious and following the suspicions of her colleagues that point to the likely killer who stands out early into the novel. Instead she takes a hard line backed up by forensic evidence that implicates the most unlikely suspect killer.

Earlier, Paula has called on Tony Hill for his help that has ramifications that draw Carol Jordan back into the mess that has occurred to try and unravel the misdirected murder inquiry. This is a thrilling page-turner of a novel. Paula McIntyre is easily warmed to as a character who is a committed professional also struggling with her personal life as opposed to DCI Fielding who is not one for admitting mistakes. The saga of Carol Jordan and Tony Hill may have taken a side step to the psychopathic murderer but their plight seemed better written and of more interest than the horrific crimes he committed. Where Val McDermid takes them from here is another matter. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel as with most of this author's works.
Hardback Review.
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on 27 November 2015
I always enjoy this author's books. She is very good at describing her character's moods and feelings and I find it easy to empathise with them all. These books are not for the faint hearted and in this book she follows the demolition of the relationship between the two protagonists. My heart bled for them both and I look forward to the next book with eager anticipation!!
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Published a couple of years after the previous Tony Hill novel things have certainly moved on in the world created by Val McDermid. Carol Jordan has left the police force altogether and because of the break-up of MIT Paula McIntyre is now a sergeant and just starting to work for DCI Fielding.

It has to be admitted that this story does start off a little bit wobbly as we are brought up with events from the last book, as well as laying the groundwork for a serial killer. It is only really into the second half of this book that things pick up and start to take off. With an obvious killer on the loose in the Bradfield area it seems he only goes for one kind of woman, indeed similar to Carol Jordan. But what are his motivations, and what was the trigger?

Paula asks Tony Hill for help, but it isn’t long before DCI Fielding has him in her sights as the prime suspect. With feelings still running high from the last tale we had in this series, can people be brought together again, not only to try and get Tony out of the frame, but also to find the real killer?

As far as McDermid’s tales goes this isn’t one of her best, as because so much groundwork has to be laid here the actual story of the killer is rushed a bit too much, and this could have actually done with being a little longer to take away that feel, and to give a bit more depth to some of the elements here. In all this will probably keep some happy, but if you are starting out reading this series by McDermid then I would suggest that you try another novel instead, as this isn’t up to her usual quality.
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on 12 March 2014
..and I havn't read any other reviews.

Last book , Vanishing Point, was the occasional dud but McDermid is back on more familiar ground...perhaps even too familiar given that you probably need to have read the other Tony Hill books to follow the (sub) plot.

It has its flaws (some leaden dialogue, a narrow cast of whodunnit, I'm on page 300.and reckon I know) and not for the first time so far the lesbian count is higher than the body one.

But I don't care..because last night it was 3am before I put the book down and I shall finish it tonight.

Readable page-turning is all I want from a crime thriller..and on form no-one does it better.
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on 30 September 2015
First Val McDermid book I have read, I was pleasantly surprised, I really enjoyed the twists and turns.
My big criterism is I kept getting confused with all the characters, see I'm not very bright these days and my memory isn't very good.
The story was good and I assume it would appeal to all Val McDermid fans.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 10 October 2013
First of all, thank you to the author and publishers for the advance copy of this novel via netgalley. I was overjoyed to receive it as I'm a long time fan of Tony Hill and indeed all books from Ms McDermid. My beautiful Hardback copy remains on pre- order. Hey, Bookshelf OCD. Can't have a missing one from the collection...

So, the latest instalment finds Tony and Carol at odds in the aftermath of "The Retribution"..meanwhile Paula Mcintyre takes front and centre as she takes on the case of a missing friend...and also begins the hunt for a killer alongside her new Boss, someone she is not sure of. Paula can't resist getting Tony involved, this must mean that Carol will not be far behind....surely?

I'm used to a high standard from these novels - I will admit to some slight concern about what would come next, The Retribution having had such an emotive storyline for those of us who are fans of the Carol/Tony pairing...and leaving us with such huge consequences for their relationship. How could she top that I wondered? I kept the faith though and my faith was more than justified. Here we have not only a top notch mystery as usual but a wonderfully written continuation of our favourite characters ongoing story.

By cleverly giving more focus to Paula, a character I have always been inordinately fond of anyway, and for at least the first portion of the book putting Tony and Carol very much in the background of the story as it relates to the current investigation, Ms McDermid created for this reader, a thing of beauty. I was equally enthralled with the new case and with Paula's struggles to come to terms with new relationships..both personal and professional. And then flipping the coin and seeing just how Carol is coping with her life and how Tony is trying to cope in his world that simply, at this moment, does not have Carol in it.

Other characters, both old and new make an appearance, a little twist to Paula's case gives us some unease and I had to make myself slow down a little and appreciate the writing - I could happily have read this one in a few hours straight when as usual it is a thing to be savoured....
Pulling together the strands of the story, Ms McDermid polishes things off in her indubitable style and gives us, her constant readers, a satisfactory conclusion and yet...a very real need to find out whats next for Tony, Carol et al. Oh dear, here comes my chronic impatience again...
So for the readers. If you are already immersed in this world then this instalment will more than satisfy you..I have no doubt. If you have yet to meet Tony Hill and Carol Jordan then don't start here - you COULD, in fact you could start anywhere, but I would highly recommend that you start at the very beginning. Tony and Carol have had a whole life before this. "The Mermaids Singing" begins their story...where it will end we have yet to discover.
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