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The Torment of Others    by Val McDermid order for
Torment of Others
by Val McDermid
Order:  USA  Can
Minotaur, 2005 (2004)
Hardcover, Softcover, CD

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

I enjoy all of Val McDermid's thrillers, but especially the series which partners (both professionally and in a developing romance) scruffy profiler Tony Hill with intuitive detective Carol Jordan. They have relentlessly tracked down serial killers in The Wire in the Blood, The Mermaids Singing, and The Last Temptation.

In the latter, Carol worked undercover in an operation aimed at European crime lord Tadeusz Radecki, while Tony went after a killer in the same area. Carol ended up being brutally raped in Berlin. As The Torment of Others opens, she's persuaded by her old boss, John Brandon, to run an elite serious crimes team in Bradfield. In parallel, Tony Hill decides he's had enough of academia and takes on a clinical position at Bradfield Moor Secure Hospital. Carol ends up taking over the basement apartment in his new home. Early in the story, McDermid shows us the musings of a malleable mind, someone with obvious low esteem, who reveres 'the Voice' and does whatever it asks of him. This Voice demands dreadful deeds.

When DCI Jordan takes over her new unit, she acquires two major cases. In one, two small boys have disappeared and their parents are frantic. A clever insight leads Carol to consult an attractive forensic geologist, and she has a fling with him, to Tony's dismay. A second case turns out to be a serial - women are being murdered in a manner identical to a previous investigation, one in which the killer confessed and is doing time at Bradfield Moor Secure Hospital, where Tony now works. As the body count mounts, John Brandon pushes Carol to mount an undercover operation using DC Paula McIntyre, who resembles the victims. Of course, this brings back awful memories for Carol, and of course, the operation goes awry.

Val McDermid does her usual excellent job of showing the tensions amongst police officers under unusual stress. She also lays quite a few false trails, leading up to more than one surprise in an ending that few readers will predict. I look forward to more of Carol Jordan and Tony Hill, and the sooner the better.

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