Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Torment of Others by Val McDermid

While not as heart-stoppingly suspenseful as The Mermaid's Singing, this Tony Hill/Carol Jordan mystery novel proved to be a very riveting and compelling read, that will (need I say it?) keep you completely glued to your chair until the very last page.

When a prostitute is found brutal murdered in a manner similar to a previous case from a few years ago also involving murdered prostitutes, DCI Carol Jordan and her team think that they've a copycat on their hands. But this, according to criminal psychologist, Dr. Tony Hill, is not the case. His belief is that the same person who was responsible for those murders, is responsible for this one as well. The problem is that there was irrefutable forensic evidence as well as a confession for that first case, and Derek Tyler is currently serving time in a mental institution for those first murders. Tyler's claim, hitherto dismissed as the fantasies of a deranged mind, was that the "voice" had told him what to do and how to do it. Could his fantastic claims be true? Could there be a sinister, twisted personality out there who derives pleasure and satisfaction from manipulating others to commit, vicious, brutal murders against women? As the body count rises and pressure to make a quick arrest mounts, Carol's newly formed Major Incident Team begins to fall apart as the different personalities clash -- some even begin to question if Carol is up to the job given that she's still feeling raw and vulnerable from having been assaulted a few months ago. Carol must now put her personal qualms aside in order to bring her team together so that they can work as an integrated unit as well as get them to trust her instincts and leadership again. Fortunately, she has Tony Hill backing her up in more ways than one...

Taut and fast paced, The Torment of Others was an incredibly engrossing read that really kept me guessing for quite a while. At some point, a few readers may get an inkling as to what's going on and who the guilty party may be; fortunately, the author took great care to make plausible suspects of a few key characters, so that if you enjoy trying to solve the mystery along with the lead detectives, you're in for a treat. And by filtering in Tony's and Carol's complex and unresolved feelings, Carol's still raw feelings about her rape, and Tony's feelings of guilt, Val McDermid also makes The Torment of Others a much more multifaceted and more textured read. Chilling and horrifying, The Torment of Others definitely is a very well written and clever mystery novel. And while Val McDermid has written more suspenseful thrillers, The Torment of Others rates high as a very satisfying and chilling police procedural. Definitely a "not-to-be-missed" thriller.

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