Val McDermid grew up in a Scottish mining community then read English at Oxford. She was a journalist for sixteen years, spending the last three years as Northern Bureau Chief of a national Sunday tabloid. Now a full-time writer, she divides her time between Cheshire and Northumberland. Her novels have won international acclaim and a number of prestigious awards, including the Gold Dagger for best crime novel of the year, the Anthony Award for best novel, and the Los Angeles Times Book of the Year Award. Her thriller series featuring criminal profiler Tony Hill has been adapted into the much-loved TV series Wire in the Blood.
McDermid takes a great premise and turns it into a thoroughly engaging psychological thriller: the writers of serial murder fiction become the victims of a copycat killer who models his crimes on their work. This puzzle is well intertwined with two other major cases facing our heroine, Dr. Fiona Cameron, an academic psychologist who tracks serial offenders through computer technology that focuses on geographical patterns. The crime spree becomes personal as Fiona's partner Kit Martin is one of the writers targeted. The author's use of clues hidden from her characters adds to the tension without cheating the well-paced execution of the mystery. Vari Sylvester carries that tension very capably in her reading. Rather graphic at times, this is a book for adult audiences only. Joyce Kessel, Villa Maria Coll., Buffalo, NY Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
'McDermid's capacity to enter the warped mind of a deviant criminal is shiveringly convincing' Marcel Berlins, The Times A Place of Execution: 'Compelling and atmospheric... a tour de force' Minette Walters The Wire in the Blood: 'This is a shocking book, stunningly exciting, horrifyingly good' Ruth Rendell
Though McDermid skillfully alternates point of view and creates memorable scenes and complex characters, her latest falls short of the high standard set by her previous novel, A Place of Execution (2000), which was an Edgar finalist. Psychology professor Fiona Campbell, a consultant with London's Metropolitan Police, specializes in crime linkage and geographical profiling using sophisticated computer technology. The competitive, self-confident Fiona was recently replaced on a case by another expert, who ended up misleading the police; their suspect, whom Fiona had thought innocent, was eventually released. While Fiona is working with the Spanish police to catch a vicious murderer, a new situation comes to light back in the U.K.: the serial killings of successful thriller writers who are threatened, then murdered following details from their most popular novel. Fiona lives with Kit Martin, author of you guessed it popular thrillers about serial killers. Their best friend, Det. Superintendent Steve Preston, needs Fiona's help in yet another investigation. Initially, she refuses to resume working with the police, but the personal dimensions draw her in. After much misdirection, the cases mesh, with a Spanish connection. McDermid builds suspense by inserting passages from the thriller novels, e-mails, crime Web sites and the killer's journal. Unfortunately, the killer's motive is somewhat unconvincing, while the reader can anticipate most of the plot twists. Nonetheless, given the acclaim for A Place of Execution, expect strong sales. (Oct. 12) FYI: McDermid won Britain's Gold Dagger Award for best crime novel in 1995. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.