Book review: Insidious Intent by Val McDermid

Saturday, August 26, 2017 Permalink

My reunion with psychologist Tony Hill and detective Carol Jordan in Val McDermid’s 2015 book, Splinter the Silence was a happy one. It felt like it’d been a while since we’d caught up and I wasn’t sure if there’d been a lull or I’d been a little confused (put-off) by changes in the TV show based on the books, Wire in the Blood.

Anyhoo, I rejoined Tony and Carol two years ago, when a no-longer-working Carol became embroiled in a drink driving conviction and was manipulated into returning to work as a result. Strings were pulled to get the charges dismissed and that action (not Carol’s doing) comes back to bite her and her colleagues on the butt this time around.¬†

Book review: Insidious Intent by Val McDermidInsidious Intent
by Val McDermid
Series: Tony Hill and Carol Jordan #10
on August 24th 2017
Genres: Crime Fiction, Police Procedural
ISBN: 1408709325, 9781408709320
Pages: 464

In the north of England, single women are beginning to disappear from weddings. A pattern soon becomes clear: Someone is crashing the festivities and luring the women away--only to leave the victims' bodies in their own burned-out cars in remote locations.

Tony and Carol are called upon to investigate--but this may be the toughest case they've ever had to face. Meanwhile, Detective Sergeant Paula McIntyre and her partner Elinor must deal with a cruel cyber-blackmailer targeting their teenage ward, Torin.

We quickly learn the cases in question in this outing are the result of a man intent on punishing someone though he seemingly decides to take a few practice runs before getting to his actual target. Sadly, though his kills aren’t as fulfilling as he’d hoped, they’re enough to whet his appetite and become the first case of the new Regional Major Incident Team (ReMIT) headed up by Carol.

Obviously she’s joined by Tony who continues to provide his quirky though insightful psychological expertise, as well as stalwart Paula (whose private life is given a bit of added texture though her new foster / adopted teenager Torin), a mix of old and new faces and IT guru Stacey, who I enjoyed meeting in the last outing when she joined the police.

I mentioned in my review of Splinter the Silence it was great to see McDermid moving with the times and the investigation reflecting the world of social media and online footprints and technology certainly plays a role this time around as well.

Although Carol’s focussed on the case before them, she’s also tormented by the fallout of her drink-driving charges being dropped and I very much enjoyed her (fairly rare) self-analysis.

This is one of those books in which we know who the killer is from the get-go. We understand his motivation, so in cases like this there’s usually a cat and mouse scenario on the agenda, culminating in the team swanning in and saving the final victim or one of the team being threatened and saving themselves.

But not here.

And I loved that McDermid doesn’t pfaff around with the predictable plot structure. The team is seriously stumped and they’re facing the threat of losing the case and perhaps losing face in their first case, when they get their unexpected break. I was taken-aback…. there was something different about the way this case was playing out.

Then things get even more surprising…. and regular readers will be shocked at the direction McDermid takes the team. And us.

Interestingly it felt as if we were in Tony’s head a lot more than Carol’s in this outing and I couldn’t remember if that’s usually the case or if it’s because he’s worrying about her guilt over the fallout of the dismissal of her drink driving charges as well as the lack of progress on the case before them. He seems to sense there’s a desperation he’s not seen before.

And interestingly Tony’s challenged (by young Torin) to define his relationship with Carol…. something he’s rarely had to articulate before.

“We care about each other. But we’re not a couple. Not in the conventional sense. We’re more than best friends and less than lovers.” p 219

I think McDermid actually gave the supporting cast a strong role here and we spend a bit of time with Paula and her ¬†Torin, who’s the subject of a secondary case (which I usually hate, but didn’t here). In fact it gave us a bit more time with Stacey and Paula and offered another opportunity for a crime (of sorts) to be resolved. And you know how much I love my closure!

I mentioned in my review of Splinter the Silence that this series felt as if it had been given a new lease on life. It certainly remains the case here and the ending…. well the ending sets us up for something completely different.

Insidious Intent by Val McDermid was published in Australia by Hachette and is now available.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.



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