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The Torment of Others is the latest in a series of gritty crime mysteries from acclaimed Scottish writer, Val McDermid. Her central characters, clinical psychologist Doctor Tony Hill and Detective Chief Inspector Carol Jordan, face the toughest challenge of their careers when they are confronted with a series of horrific crimes. Prostitutes on the street of Bradfield are being murdered in a particularly grotesque way. The killings match the signature of convicted killer Derek Tyler. But as Tony Hill tries to crack Tyler in his cell at the Bradfield mental hospital, Carol and her team face an undercover operation that goes horribly wrong and mount a tension filled search for the copycat killer who's abducted one of their own detectives.

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Kathy Grieve
Member of the Law Enforcement Review Board
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Janice MacDonald
Crime Writer
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I was intrigued by the title The Torment of Others. Certainly the characters - of which there were many - had their own demons, and so each in their own way was tormented.

I related to Detective Chief Inspector Carol Jordan and I appreciated her struggles, her intellect. I think it was realistic that she took to the bottle, because the rape left her unsure of herself, her colleagues, and the whole concept of back up. She was unable to trust anyone, and had lost her self-confidence. I felt frustrated by her relationship with Tony. He's supposed to be able to relate to people, he's a psychologist, but he couldn't seem to get it together to comfort Carol. I don't understand why he didn't step in. I think the sign of a good writer is that I was engaged enough by her characters to keep wanting to tell Tony 'hey man, get on with it!'

As a woman, I found it hard to read the death pieces. That would be one of the worst ways to die. It always amazes me when a writer, and particularly a woman, can think of such base ways to murder people.

Other reviews by Kathy Grieve:
The Closers
Darkly Dreaming Dexter

 

I loved this book. I really enjoy the whole idea of criminal profiling, there's something fascinating about how Tony Hill behaves. I enjoy the characterizations, and I feel that these are real people talking. This isn't the first time I've seen in British crime fiction that you have that kind of push me-pull you untrustworthiness in the crime team.

I have followed the Hill/Jordan pairup since the first book when they meet. Hill is the profiler that nobody wants, and they don't want Jordan because she's a woman. In the third book they are about to consummate a relationship when everything blows up in their faces, so we get a real tension between the two of them in this, the fourth book where Jordan's moving herself back into a a position of being able to trust men in general.

I think you have to have this frisson of sexual tension between your characters. There's also this underlying issue in detective fiction that you cannot have a detective who is responsible for someone else's needs. They have to be loners.

It's interesting that the other crime that's being investigated in this book is one of small boys being taken, and disappearing, and presumed dead. It comes up there is a notion that they should run after the pedophile with more strength than they go after the hookers.

Other reviews by Janice MacDonald:
Darkly Dreaming Dexter
The Maltese Falcon
Memory Book