The Mermaids Singing, Paperback
4.5 out of 5 (1 rating)


In this special 20th anniversary edition, Lee Child introduces the Gold Dagger award-winning serial killer thriller that began the Number One bestselling crime series featuring clinical psychologist Dr Tony Hill, hero of TV's much-loved Wire in the Blood.

You always remember the first time. Isn't that what they say about sex? How much more true it is of murder...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.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 464 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Crime & mystery
  • ISBN: 9780008134761



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I remember reading and enjoying this book when it was first published twenty years ago, but I had forgotten quite how good it was. I would, however, probably not have thought to re-read it if I had not had a recent exchange on Twitter with Val Mcdermid herself.This is the first instalment of the series featuring Inspector Carol Jordan and Dr Tony Hill that now extends to several volumes and spawned the television series 'Wire in the Blood'. As is so often the case, the television version sells the books rather short, with a prurient emphasis on the sordid and sensational aspects to the detriment of the well-crafted plots and finely-drawn characters.This book opens with the police in Bradfield struggling to find new leads in their investigation of some particularly vicious murders in which the victims had not merely been killed but appeared to have been tortured at length beforehand. Opinion within the police is divided as to whether the murders are the work of one serial killer or separate, unrelated perpetrators. Detective Inspector Carol Jordan is convinced that there is a serial killer at work, but has hitherto been unable to convince her boss, Superintendent Cross who is a traditional old school copper. It is also clear that Cross feels that, as the victims have been known participants in Bradfield's vibrant gay scene, they have been more or less asking for it, and he barely avoids using the term 'contributory negligence'. Fortunately, Assistant Chief Constable Brandon is more modern in his approach, and he invites Dr Tony Hill, a practising psychiatrist who has been working with the Home Office to develop a national profiling task force, to help the investigation.Tony Hill is not without his own demons, but he quickly establishes his bone fides with Carol Jordan and the rest of her team with some astute observations about the murders. In the meantime, the police stage an undercover operation with various officers staking out some of the clubs around Bradfield in the hope of flushing out the killer. One of the police officers is attacked, and then another body is found …Val Mcdermid manages the plot brilliantly, allowing the tension to mount quickly without compromising the plausibility of the story. The relationships between Hill and Jordan and the different strands of opinion within the police are all eminently credible.

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