Val McDermid's latest book is the eighth entry in her Tony Hill and Carol Jordan series. Cross and Burn picks up a few months after the ending of The Retribution. (my review)
The series is set in England. Tony Hill is a clinical psychologist who assists the Bradfield Police Department with profiling. He's good at his job...."he understood them because he had come within a hair's breadth of being them." Carol Jordan is a Detective Chief Inspector with Bradfield. They've made a spectacular team professionally. And they're slowly building a personal relationship as well.
Or were.....their last case ended with catastrophic results. Carol has left the force and retreated from everything. Tony is functioning, but barely. And their unit has been disbanded. But, when someone starts targeting women who look like Carol, they must put differences aside to stop a killer.
McDermid grabbed me from the opening pages. It is the killer who has the first chapter....
'He woke every morning with a prickle of excitement. Would today be the day? Would he finally meet her, his perfect wife? He knew who she was, of course. He'd been watching her for a couple of weeks now, growing used to her habits, getting to know who her friends were, learning her little ways. How she pushed her hair behind her ears when she settled into the driver's seat of her car. How she turned all the lights on as soon as she came home to her lonely flat. How she never ever seemed to check in her rear-view mirror."
Creepy! McDermid cuts back and forth between the investigation and the killer's point of view. His chapters are deliciously chilling.
McDermid is a master of the police procedural. The plots in McDermid's books are devious, dark and gritty. But for this reader, it is the characters that draw me back time and time again. I truly had no idea where McDermid could take this series after the ending of the last book. In Cross and Burn it is DC Paula McIntyre who takes the lead role. I enjoyed seeing another recurring character fleshed out. But Tony and Carol's storyline is the one that intrigues me the most. It's real and raw - I sometimes feel like an interloper, inadvertently intruding on someone's private conversations and grief.
The title comes from a quote by David Russell...."The hardest thing in life is to know which bridge to cross and which to burn."
The last few pages put a close to this case, but leaves the door wide open for the next installment - one I'll eagerly be awaiting.
Although you can read any of this series as a stand alone, I heartily recommend starting at the beginning - it's a must for crime lovers. A television series - Wire in the Blood - is also based on these characters.
Read an excerpt of Cross and Burn. You can find Val McDermid on Twitter. And on Facebook as well.