Bookish Posts · Clearing The Shelves · Posts 2018 · Reviews

Clearing the Shelves – ‘The Mermaids Singing’ by Val McDermid

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Every month I try to read at least one book that I’ve had sat on the shelves for over six months. January’s pick was ‘The Mermaids Singing’ by Val McDermid which I have had for a lot longer than six months! It was also my pick for Zuky’s Book Bum Book Club January theme which was ‘New Year New Author’.



Up till now, the only serial killers Tony Hill had encountered were safely behind bars. This one’s different – this one’s on the loose. Four men have been found mutilated and tortured. As fear grips the city, the police turn to clinical psychologist Tony Hill for a profile of the killer. But soon Tony becomes the unsuspecting target in a battle of wits and wills where he has to use every ounce of his professional nerve to survive. A tense, beautifully written psychological thriller, ‘The Mermaids Singing’ explores the tormented mind of a serial killer unlike any the world of fiction has ever seen.


I honestly do not know why I haven’t read a Val McDermid book before, but after reading ‘The Mermaids Singing’ I will certainly be reading more! It’s dark, grim and completely f**ked up, which is exactly how I like my crime reads. This is the first time that we meet profiler Tony Hill and Detective Inspector Carol Jordan, this is this the first case they collaborate on and it’s a partnership that works astoundingly well.

Tony Hill has his own secrets that he wants to keep hidden, he suffers from a very embarrassing male problem and seeks refuge and relief from a woman called Angelica. The two have never met but share intimate phone calls. I liked that Tony was struggling with his own issues, usually in crime fiction there is a flawed main character but Tony’s problem is one I have never come across in crime books before. And whilst it could easily be laughed at, Val McDermid has dealt with it sensitively and successfully. It also made him more human and accessible.

I loved the relationship that developed between Tony and Carol, she has fought her way up the policing ladder, she is respected yet still has to deal with the discrimination of being a female police officer. They make a great pair, they bounce off each other and quickly close in on the killer.

This is not a book for the faint of heart. There are descriptions of torture which can be quite tough to read. But if you like your crime with a dash of the gory, then this is for you. I couldn’t guess the killer so the ending was a nice surprise for me. I found this book gripping, twisted, intriguing and satisfying.



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