If you are a thriller reader, it’s likely you’ve encountered Val McDermid some time in the last couple decades. She is one of the most consistent thriller writers out there, and while she’s based in the UK, she’s had success in the US as well.
If you are a Netflix watcher, you may also have encountered Val McDermid through the UK series Wire in the Blood, based on several of McDermid’s novels and her profiler character Tony Hill.
In either case, you probably know what you’re in for with McDermid. Edge of your seat action, lots of twists, and, of course, some very grisly murders. I think at some point McDermid upped the ante when it comes to the violence in her books, I don’t remember exactly when, but I know from reading other reviews that I’m not the only one to notice.
You must be prepared for such things with a McDermid thriller. But you also get some of the better traditional thrillers you’ll find. If you’re into the serial killers, profilers and dedicated cops you see on TV shows, McDermid is up your alley.
Her new book, The Retribution, is the 7th book in the Tony Hill/Carol Jordan series. Hill is a prickly, aloof profiler who doesn’t work terribly well with people. Jordan is a prickly, aloof detective who runs a top-of-the-line team of officers on major cases. The back-and-forth relationship between Hill and Jordan, and the relationships of all of Jordan’s team, are rewarding. They remind you why you stick with a series.
With all that said, The Retribution is determined to take things in a new and grim direction.
It’s got a lot of what you look for in a long-running series. There are big changes coming: Jordan’s team is being disbanded. Jordan is planning to move out to a new district in the country. But the biggest change of all is the return of one of McDermid’s favorite villains: the charismatic serial killer and former TV star, Jacko Vance.
To fully enjoy The Retribution it helps to have read some of the previous Hill/Jordan novels. (Particularly Wire in the Blood, the previous entry featuring Jacko Vance.) But the TV series will do just as well, since so many of the episodes are derived from McDermid novels. You can start this one without the history, as you can with any decent thriller, but you may not get the full punch.
If you know McDermid, you know to expect dark. Really dark. And this book is no different. Jordan and Hill are pushed to their limits while they work against Vance, who wants nothing more than to destroy them both. Meanwhile, Jordan’s team investigates a serial killer who is gruesomely killing prostitutes. The stakes are high. And for two eccentric characters like Carol Jordan and Tony Hill, it looks like it could change everything.
There certainly appears to be another Jordan/Hill novel coming up. The Retribution ends abruptly. Its ending is something of an anti-climax but it’s well in keeping with the plot and characters.
For me, I admit I’m tiring of McDermid. Watching the Wire in the Blood series reignited my interest for a while. I thought the actors were quite good and seeing it in a quick-paced television format worked really well. But I wearied of the show, too, after a while. It went on for too long and I worry that the Jordan/Hill series has gone on too long, too.
Still, if you’re a solid thriller reader and you want a solid thriller, you can’t find many options more reliable than Val McDermid.
Thanks to Edelweiss and Grove/Atlantic publishing for allowing me access to an advanced e-galley of The Retribution. Release date is January 3, 2012!