The Mermaids Singing by Val McDermid
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
“The Mermaids Singing” is the first book in the Tony Hill/Carol Jordan series and the basis for the first episode of the British crime drama “Wire in the Blood.” After watching four seasons of the television series, I was compelled to read the books if for no other reason than I wanted more of Tony Hill, as I find him to be one of the intriguing characters I’ve ever watched (“Wire in the Blood” beats CSI by a few miles in my opinion).
When the police finally admit that the bodies that keep turning up in the city’s gay district may be the work of a serial killer, they bring in Tony Hill to profile for the department. Carol Jordan is the police liaison working with him to solve them crime. As a clinical psychologist who works with murderers, Tony’s mind is geared to this direction, making him valuable in the search. It probably also helps that his background has shaped his own psyche to be more empathetic to the thoughts of the off-balanced.
As the story progresses, the reader is also given first person glimpses into the world of the serial killer, who builds torture devices for his victims and records their murders for his own pleasure. The story also follows the strange relationship Tony builds with a prank caller and Carol’s attraction to Tony that he fights to not reciprocate.
I was impressed with how closely the book matched with the show, and I enjoyed the extra insight about Tony in the print version. I will say that the book gives Carol Jordan a little more intelligence. She’s a good character in the show, and I like her, but she comes across as the hardcore cop who has to ride Tony’s coattails of intelligence (in my opinion). Of course this is only book 1 which may only correspond to episode 1, so a better assessment may come after reading a few more books in the series.
I think I may have also been thrown off by the British slang a little bit too if I hadn’t already watched the show and had some background context. Not that this should deter anyone. It’s still a good book and I enjoy the characters a lot. I’m excited to read more from this author, though I'll need to read something light before diving back into something this dark.
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