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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 6 September 2009
I haven't read a Val McDermid book before but was most impressed by this. While there is clearly a cast of characters here that have been built up through a series of other adventures, this doesn't prevent the reader from soon picking up the personalities and the relationships lying between them.

At first sight, there's nothing unusual about the cold cases being investigated by DCI Carol Jordan and her elite investigation unit - only difficulties and impediments put in her way be a new Chief Constable who wants to shake things up a bit in the Bradfield police force. Soon however their talents are called upon in the case of a serial killer case who after much preparation and grooming of young teenagers on an Internet Social Networking site, has just started to draw his victims in and execute them, his motives a complete mystery. With profiler Tony Hill out-of-bounds under the new regime and having some personal issues of his own to deal with, Carol Jordan and her team need to be a bit more creative than usual.

The serial killer element may not initially appear to be particularly original, nor the manner in which the police procedural elements of the investigation are clearly laid out, but McDermid's writing makes this compelling reading, taking the time to lay-out the personalities of the victims, their parents and their lives, and making the damage done so much more intense than that of anonymous discovered mutilated bodies. The police procedural aspects are brilliantly drawn, showing the political pressures as well as the barriers in place that prevent effective cooperation between police forces of different regions (the author in the process nailing regional characteristics well). All this just adds to the intensity of the drama.

Added to all that, you have the personal lives of the police officers, investigators and profilers, which is not a colourful add-on, but can be clearly seen to have an impact on how they think and operate - even minor and secondary characters are well-observed and similarly well-drawn, and there are a few bombshells dropped here and there. This wide cast of characters and what turns out to be a different serial killer angle are all brought together by McDermid with apparent effortless ease. The investigators may be frustratingly slower than the reader to make the connections and work out the identity of the killer, but that only adds to the tension in a terrific crime novel that captures the complexity of the criminal act as much as the political and personal issues that have to be just as carefully navigated.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 20 September 2009
Fourteen years after the first, this is the sixth in the highly successful series fronted by clinical psychologist and criminal profiler Dr Tony Hill alongside his friend DCI Carol Jordan, and accordingly it is the sixth to take its title from an extract of a T.S. Eliot poem, thereby having little more than an ambiguous relevance to the story itself. In summary, a serial killer in the fictitious Yorkshire city of Bradfield is being pursued, one who targets teenagers after grooming them on-line. Broadly speaking it is a tale that sticks fairly rigidly to procedural police teamwork but by-passes the traditional forensic elements, so as usual there is a minimum of slicing and dicing in the morgue a la Gerritsen, Reichs or Cornwell moulds. Instead the development of the characters in Carol Jordan's hand-picked team of detectives plays a key role, together with their long-term consultant and trusted colleague Dr Hill.

As a story and plot, Fever of the Bone feels like a combination of a throwback to proven methods from earlier and successful Hill-Jordan novels combined with some conspicuous details that suggest that the author has made a conscious attempt to rejuvenate the brand with some teen-prose and text-speak that should make the finished product feel more up-to-date. Anyone new to McDermid won't notice this of course, but for the many fans with bulging McDermid bookcases who will be loyally buying this latest offering, a 'whatever' here and an 'innit' there might seem just slightly out of kilter to what has gone before, and while teenagers do use such vocabulary of course, the author herself seems to have wandered - knowingly and deliberately - into a territory that has the potential to draw ridicule from those that are familiar with her previous twenty-two novels. It is, however, a return to safe ground after the previous novel which was perhaps too ambitious in capitalising on the threat of terrorist bombs (in Yorkshire!) and dabbling in the world of professional football. In the latest novel there are also some real-life events that, unusually for Val McDermid, serve to 'time-stamp' the tale, by such mentionings of a recession, the property price slump, Facebook and one or two other things that in years to come will make this stand out as a story set in 2007/08 or very close to it. It's nitpicking, to be fair, but noticeable nonetheless. Overall the prose is excellent and as intelligent as one would expect from one of Britain's front-runners in crime fiction, after more than two decades of writing.

Tony Hill and Carol Jordan take centre stage as fans would hope, although they are separated for a considerable period, partly because Tony is researching the father he never knew. Tony and Carol's relationship has almost certainly been the cornerstone of this series' popularity, but it has to be said that something needs to change after fourteen years of will-they-won't-they. But there are several other characters who feature prominently, not least long-term ally DC Paula McIntyre, whose timid foray into a lesbian relationship is authentic and relevant, and the very ambitious DC Sam Evans, who treads a fine line between team player and maverick but whose character, like Paula's, is interestingly and carefully developed in this latest instalment. Somewhat more peripheral to this quartet but still worthy of the reader's attention include ICT specialist Stacey Chen, a couple of senior officers from a West Mercia police force and an egocentric new Chief Constable (replacing the now retired John Brandon) who attempts to exert his influence on Carol's highly-rated MIT by threatening disbandment due to budget pressures from above. There's also a small part for Fiona Cameron, who fans will remember as leading character in Killing the Shadows.

It's hard to deny that this is a carefully woven story with appealing characters, professionally written by a woman who has managed to stay at the top of her game for an unusually long time. Well - almost. I still regard The Mermaids Singing as the best of this sextet; it held more thrills, more suspense and more mysteries to unravel than this one. So when compared with McDermid's best novels - not least her masterpiece A Place of Execution (a standalone) - Fever of the Bone is unlikely to be regarded as the best this author has produced, but when compared to what's out there in the crime fiction marketplace in 2009 it stands up very well indeed. Anyone reading this and liking it can be assured that there are treasures to be found in Val's back-catalogue, and quite a few at that. A very good novel, then, despite its slightly clipped conclusion, and one that any crime fiction aficionado can buy with confidence. It is unlikely to disappoint.
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on 1 October 2009
Since previous reviews go in to so much detail, i will be brief and to the point.
Having read everything that Val Mcdermid has written i am surprised by only one thing.The author just gets better and better. Quite amazing as she has written twenty-six books to date.

This book is a page turner. Superbly written and even though we are familiar with the characters we just want to get more and more of them. Val brings in a new profiler as the big wigs want to cut down on expenses. A complete waste of time. Tony is is the best so let's stick with him !

So in conclusion, if this is your first foray into Val's books you won't be disappointed. If,like me you are just a loyal fan, then i say that Fever of the Bone is up there with the best of her novels.
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on 24 August 2016
This is my first bookI have read by this author and I was not disappointed. Other reviewers have already given very full coverings of the contents, so sufficient to say that I heartily endorse their praises. This book has held my interest throughout and has detailed information re police procedures. Her characters have great depth and the plot is gripping all the way through the book. I will be reading more of Val McDermid's work.
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on 11 December 2015
I've only just become a Val McDermid convert and I've flown through the previous five books so I knew roughly what to expect from Fever of the Bone. The story line is chilling, having teenagers of my own it really made me think. Do we really know who our kids are talking to?

I love the way characters from previous books are drawn into the story, giving you more favourites to add to your collection. And of course, you never know if one of your favourites is about to be bumped off.....

I only wish Val could write the books as fast as I can read them. I don't know what I'm going to do with myself when I catch up!
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VINE VOICEon 16 January 2010
I thought Val McDermid's last Hill/Jordan book, `Beneath the Bleeding', was comparatively disappointing. One Amazon reviewer noted that it seemed to have been written on autopilot and I think that was a fair observation - it was an entertaining read but completely lacked the dark, brooding intensity of the first novels in the series. `Fever of the Bone' represents a welcome return to form. The atmosphere isn't as murky and tortuous as the earlier Tony Hill books perhaps but it's certainly an unusually rich, thoughtful and absorbing detective story. It doesn't have the power of `The Mermaids Singing' but it's really well paced and plotted and the characters are deftly drawn. Although the murders are gruesome and upsetting it's a bit less nasty than some of the earlier novels - it's in some ways a more straightforward police procedural than these, closer to, say, Stephen Booth or Peter Robinson in tone. Setting aside the fact that four teenagers are brutally murdered, there's actually some warmth and humour in `Fever of the Bone' - McDermid is being a bit kinder to her regular characters than she sometimes has been in the past.
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on 8 October 2009
I NEVER try to guess what's going to happen when I read a book but with this one I guessed the connection between the victims really early on. It seems blindly obvious and that made me get a bit bored half way through. I do love the strong character relationships and the story about Tony's dad however.

I agree with a previous post - The Mermaids Singing is her best work and when you compare this book to that one there's a lot to be desired.

I was really disappointed as I have never felt this way about a McDermid book before and I would say 98% of the time I have no idea how books are going to end and that's what makes it so interesting for me. But this time, sadly, that wasn't the case.

It's still worth a read, I definitely wouldn't suggest ignoring it completely - especially if you love the saga that is Carol and Tony!
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on 29 June 2015
I haven't yet found a book by val mcdermid that I don't like. The story line is great, I love the fact that I know the characters & it's based close to where I live. There's still a few more books in the line I haven't read yet & really looking forward to them. Great read, thank you.
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VINE VOICEon 11 October 2009
Forget the Wire in the Blood TV series, which has been taken over by other writers using Val McDermid's characters and even a new detective who has nothing to do with the author. The Carol Jordan/Tony Hill novels have been McDermid's central series for a number of years, and Fever of the Bone is another worthy title in it.

Carol Jordan's new boss is looking to trim budgets - which means cutting Tony out of the action and using one of the up-and-coming profilers trained within the police force. Of course, it's evident that nothing is going to keep Tony down for long. Called upon by another force, coincidentally in the home town of his late father, Tony sets off to investigate another killer and combine his work with a look into his own past. Inevitably the investigation he is drawn into soon becomes connected to Carol Jordan's own hunt, and the two work together once more.

McDermid's characters have undergone subtle but significant developments throughout the series and it's sometimes the peripheral players who have the most interesting storylines. In particular, Sam Evans and Paula Macintyre have their own pieces of the limelight, while computer expert Stacey Chen, something of an enigma, is starting to warrant attention as a developing personality. These characters are welcomingly familiar to seasoned readers of this series now, but this is still not a bad starting point for anyone who wants to try McDermid for the first time.

While Fever of the Bone perhaps doesn't quite live up to the first two or three titles in the series in terms of blistering excitement and pure evil, it's still a gripping read and McDermid fans are unlikely to be disappointed. How much mileage the series has in terms of original storylines remains to be seen, but with the continuing developments in the lives of these characters, along with ambiguous hints of future possibilities, there should hopefully be a lot more to come. This is another very good crime novel and is not to be missed.
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on 6 February 2015
As a new spectator into Hill and Jordan's lives, I'm systematically working my way through the series and they just get better and better. In this book we learn more about Tony's father and meet a couple of new characters that I hope we see more of. Great read, couldn't put it down till I was done.
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