Though I reluctantly decided to read this story because friends wouldn’t stop urging me to do so, it immediately became one of my most favorite series and McDermid one of my most favorite authors in the genre. The books were also adapted into a TV series, Wire in the Blood.
The story opens with the murder of a man whose body was found outside a bar in a gay district. He happens to be the fourth of a series of murders with similar characteristics. The police superintendant is reluctant to classify these as connected to one serial murderer but is forced to do so when the DCI brings in a profiler. Tony Hunt is a criminal psychologist is asked to work with Carol Jordan, a recently promoted Detective Inspector. They work together to marry the profile with police work.
This was a particularly interesting story made even more so because of some of the writing methods. The police are analyzing clues in the present day while we are given portions of the killer’s journal to read at the beginning of chapter, starting with the onset of the first murder. Additionally, not only is the profile of the killer presented to us but Tony Hunt’s process for developing it is detailed.
The characters in this story are richly defined, with all of the flaws, shortcomings and admirable traits you’d expect to find in a police department. Even the profiler brings his share of baggage to the party. The killings are pretty gruesome so be prepared for some pretty rough moments. I must admit that after Googling some of the torture mechanisms, I decided to skim over the actual murders.
I was surprised at the outcome but mostly because of the skill of the writing. It’s a well-written story with a host of interesting players to keep you hooked. I plan to continue this series.
- Release Date: June 17, 2002
- Series: Tony Hill/Carol Jordan #1
- Page Numbers: 467