Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Fever of the Bone. Val McDermid. Little, Brown (2009)
A gripping crime story with a well developed cast and a thoughtful plot. With a new Chief Constable who does not approve of the team that Detective Chief Inspector Carol Jordan has set up, she has a short time to prove the benefit of her operation. When a murdered and mutilated teenager is found DCI Jordan's team take on the case, they are hobbled by the absence of their usual profiler, Dr. Tony Hill. Excluded from the case by the Chief's instructions and struggling with the implications of an unwanted legacy from a father he never knew, Tony Hill finds himself involved in a case with a neighbouring force. Links between the cases start to emerge and the story uncoils with considerable tension and a nice level of understated nastiness. The reveals are very well staged, the conclusion is sharp and focused.
The criminal plot in the book is very well thought out and enjoyably surprising, the very visible strength of the book lies with the varied and engaging cast. Val McDermid confidently moves the spotlight around the supporting cast in the book, highlighting both long running cast members and new players with great dexterity. The cast are given the space to establish themselves as individuals as well as part of an effective, established team.
The two principals, Carol Jordan and Tony Hill are given severe personal and professional problems to resolve that do really challenge them. This pressure gives them the opportunity to emerge as credible, competent professionals with well developed personalities. Val McDermid understands the need to have a strong plot drive the action, it never seems mechanical, the action is a vivid human drama. It is very welcome that the victims are drawn with such clarity, murder and loss are given their terrible due in the book. This is a hugely satisfying story from an tremendously accomplished writer, a real treat.