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McDermid, Val - 'The Retribution'
Paperback: 512 pages (Feb. 2010) Publisher: Sphere ISBN: 0751546054

THE RETRIBUTION is the latest in the series of books by Val McDermid, featuring the psychologist and profiler Tony Hill, and his long running partner DCI Carol Jordan. The story also features Jacko Vance, a prolific serial killer who first turned up in THE WIRE IN THE BLOOD where he was eventually caught after killing a number of young girls, as well as one of Jordan's own police team. In this book, having been imprisoned for a large number of years, it becomes clear from the first chapter that he has been planning his escape for some time. Moreover, once he achieves this goal, he intends to exact some kind of revenge on all those people on the outside responsible for putting him in prison in the first place, and Tony Hill and Carol Jordan are top of the list.

Meanwhile, in a subplot, Carol Jordan's team start to investigate a new serial killer, who is killing prostitutes using a different method each time, but leaving a signature of 'mine' marked on the wrist of the dead girls. As Vance escapes and starts on his campaign of revenge, Carol, understandably has to focus on finding him, and it's left to the rest of Jordan's team, with some help from Tony Hill to discover the identity of the new killer.

Apart from the slightly less than obvious forms of revenge employed by Jacko, the development of the plot is predictable. The sub-plot of the new serial killer is trivialised, and one almost wonders why it's there at all. It's not needed to bring Tony into the plot, as Vance's escape mean that the police department have to take him on to act as a profiler to try to catch Vance as soon as possible. However, it does demonstrate that while Tony is effective in helping to catch the new killer (mainly through his ability to remember an old TV series), he is less able to predict Vance's actions, leading to tragic consequences. His failure also results in the break up of what little relationship he seems to have between him and Carol, as Vance's first horrific actions are discovered.

As one might expect from Val McDermid, the plot, although predictable, is delivered effectively, and it's an easy read. But, I was a bit disappointed that the main plot line revolved around re-hashing old storylines and the consequent threats to the main characters, Jordan and Hill, rather than developing new, interesting crimes for Jordan and Hill to solve. All in all though fans of McDermid will probably enjoy the latest instalment in the Hill/Jordan set of novels.

Read another review of THE RETRIBUTION.

Michelle Peckham, England
February 2012

Details of the author's other books with links to reviews can be found on the Books page.
More European crime fiction reviews can be found on the Reviews page.

last updated 19/02/2012 10:29