Saturday, November 30, 2019

How The Dead Speak

How The Dead Speak by Val McDermid
Grove/Atlantic: 12/3/19
eBook review copy; 416 pages
ISBN-13: 9780802147615
Tony Hill and Carol Jordan #11

How The Dead Speak by Val McDermid is a highly recommended eleventh procedural thriller featuring psychological profiler Tony Hill and ex-DCI Carol Jordan. This follows events from Insidious Intent (2017).

Now that Tony is behind bars for manslaughter and Carol's no longer with the Bradfield Metropolitan Police, the regional major incident team is under the leadership of Detective Chief Inspector Rutherford, who is hostile to members who worked under Carol. Rutherford sends team members out to investigate when construction crews uncover children’s skeletons on the former grounds of the Order of the Blessed Pearl convent.  For DI Paula McIntyre the question of what happened becomes even more tangled when the bodies of young men are found buried in a different area of the convent grounds. At the same time, Tony is working on his book and trying to find a way to use his talents to help the prison population. Carol is finally dealing with her PTSD, when she is pulled into two different investigations.
The various plots and sub-plots are told through the points-of-view of several different characters and presented in short chapters. Basically, there are four different major plot-strands, with several sub-plot-threads in them. It is a complicated novel, but the sub-plots do begin to merge and coalesce into a conclusion. In spite of the twists and complexity of the story lines, the investigations are as compelling as the characters and will hold your attention. A nice touch is the headings on the chapters which feature a quote from the book Tony is currently writing in prison.
Once you reach the eleventh book in a series, the characters are developed and well-known to fans. The question is more how new comers to the series will relate to a novel so deep into character development over many years. There are moments where, if this was your first novel in the series, you will be confused and a bit lost among the characters, their abilities and flaws. Carefully reading will likely help you get the jest of it all, but not as if you were there from the beginning. I jumped into the series with just the previous book, Insidious Intent, so I had a few moments.

McDermid is an excellent writer and does write an adroitly plotted novel that will hold your attention throughout as each chapter switches to a new sub-plot and is told through a different point-of-view. It is a well-paced novel. There are enough twists and surprising revelations to keep you glued to the pages and the various lines of inquiry of each investigation. While everything isn't neatly wrapped up in the end, I felt that it concluded on a satisfactory note and left room for the next book in the series.
Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Grove/Atlantic.

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