Cross and Burn by Val McDermid

bloody scotlandAs a writer I am in awe of both the quality and quantity of Val McDermid’s novels. As a reader I revel in both. Several of her books including Torment of Others and The Skeleton Road are reviewed on this site: and I bought Cross and Burn the last time I met Val at the Bloody Scotland Crime Writers’ Festival in Stirling, Scotland, 2016. It is the eighth book in her series about Tony Hill and Carol Jordan. Tony Hill is a forensic psychologist and Carol Jordan is a police Detective Chief Inspector who team together in order to solve particularly brutal crimes of all kinds.

Their relationship is ambivalent and hovering between close and distant. Still, they are a great pair for the reader even though they cannot seem to work out their important to each other personally. Ms. McDermid  manages this personal part of their story with admirable restraint. This is the first book where  Hill and Jordan are separated due to the events of McDermid’s book, The Retribution. In Cross and Burn, Jordan is trying to move on after a personal loss, she is not working and refuses to have anything to do with Tony Hill. Meanwhile, Hill is struggling to go on with his life cross-and-burnwithout Carol in it. But when Tony is suspected as a serial killer it is Carol Jordan who must come to his rescue. She is still angry with him, but she knows he is innocent and out there is the real killer.

Paula McIntyre, familiar to readers of the series, takes center stage as she tries to determine who is killing women who look just like Carol Jordan. Hill and Jordan, although in this book,the story is more about the people who worked with them, their team, and the sudden disbanding of that. Everybody has to move on after that, whether they want to or not. It was interesting to have McIntyre’s character fleshed out more in this book: also to watch Tony and Carol find some new ways to proceed in the world and to deal with the glimpse into the notion that while they are valuable, the world still goes on around them and without them.

Cross and Burn, although self-contained, and can be read alone, but follows on directly from the previous book in the series, The Retribution, in which disposable supporting characters were either murdered or mutilated at the hands of another savage killer of women. I did not enjoy Cross and Burn as much as most of McDermid’s other crime novels. That val-mcdermid-photodoes not make it a bad book, just slightly less awesome than most. Val McDermid desrves her place as a No. 1 bestseller whose crime novels have been translated into more than thirty languages, and have sold over eleven million copies.

She has won many awards internationally, including the CWA Gold Dagger for best crime novel of the year and the LA Times Book of the Year Award. She was inducted into the ITV3 Crime Thriller Awards Hall of Fame in 2009 and was the recipient of the CWA Cartier Diamond Dagger for 2010. In 2011 she received the Lambda Literary Foundation Pioneer Award. She writes full time, She is married and McDermid and her wife and divide their time between Cheshire and Edinburgh.

Valerie Penny







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