Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Wire in the Blood by Val McDermid

I have a couple of confessions before we get into this. First, this was an audible listen while I treadmilled (is that even a word?), drove, and wandered about the house. I'm not a huge music fan. Audible books are a welcome addition to my life.

The second thing is I saw the British series television make of this before reading it. Robson Greene plays the part of Dr. Tony Hill in those. I love them. I love what he does with that character. The book version hasn't decreased that in the least, and might have even elevated my appreciation of his talent as an actor.

That said, the movie version does not follow the book exactly - and for once I love that too. The book, as it should be, is much more in depth, letting us deeper into the detectives who work so hard to bring a serial killer to justice. It's more difficult than usual with this case as the killer they've set their sights on is a national sports hero turned tellie star and the National Profiling Task Force that Dr. Hill has only just started aren't even supposed to be working a case.

To add to that, the district they've been set up in is full of coppers who don't give a fig about profiling. When one of Tony's team gets too close to the suspect and is murdered, it's the profiling team those detectives look into for a suspect, not the wealthy T.V. star whom the murdered detective was last seen alive with. It's up to Tony and his team to find evidence on Jacko Vance before they lose a second detective from the task force to an incompetent frame up.

From a writers perspective, since I write too, I appreciated the way the author used third person unrestricted along with the judicially placed omniscient sentence or two. The transitions between the characters, which included the killer, never left me feeling jolted out of the story. It flowed with impeccable and certain aim to the ending. That tends to be one of my pet peeves with third person- that feeling that I've suddenly been dropped into a completely different book when I turn the page. One could argue my experience is because I had already been introduced to the story, and I can't discount that, but the way the author handled transitions between scenes and characters had something to do with it as well.

Normally when you read a mystery, it's all about finding answering "who done it". Not so with this story. We know who the killer is practically from the beginning and that doesn't lessen the tension built as the team works to prove he's their man before his latest victim dies. It is a story about profiling after all, and it was expertly handled.

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