BOOK REVIEW: 'Cross and Burn': Tony Hill, Carol Jordan Together Again in Val McDermid's New Police Procedural Thriller

Reviewed by David M. Kinchen
 In my Sept. 30, 2012 review  of Val McDermid's "The Vanishing Point" ( I commented on my virgin reader status with one of the best-selling crime novelists in the world. With McDermid's "Cross and Burn" (Atlantic Monthly Press, 438 pages, $25.00) we get the full McDermid treatment of police detective Carol Jordan and her friend Dr. Tony Hill, a psychologist and profiler.     
BOOK REVIEW: 'Cross and Burn': Tony Hill, Carol Jordan Together Again in Val McDermid's New Police Procedural Thriller

We get hints about the sequence of events in this, the eighth Jordan-Hill novel:  The book picks up where "The Retribution" leaves off, with the murders of Carol's brother and his partner, and Carol Jordan leaving the Bradfield police. She blames Dr. Anthony Valentine Hill, her former best friend, for the deaths. (Bradfield is a fictional city in the north of England, where McDermid lives).

  Jacko Vance's crimes in "The Retribution" have contributed to the breaking up of what was the best crime-fighting team in the country, the Major Incident Team of the Bradfield Metropolitan Police. Carol has left the police force and is renovating the barn that was the former home of her brother. Tony Hill has moved to a narrowboat moored in a canal in the town. 

Alex Fielding, a by-the-book police officer, has taken Carol's place, with Paula McIntyre as her "bagman" or assistant. (Warning, the book is full of Briticisms and there's no glossary; for instance, "crisps" are what we on this side of the pond call "chips" as in potato chips; a car's trunk is a "boot" in the U.K.).

To everyone's amazement, Detective Chief Inspector Fielding arrests Tony Hill. The arrest is based on DNA evidence that is flimsy at best, Paula and others on the force agree.     Carol Jordan is persuaded by Bronwen Scott, Bradfield's glamorous and effective defense attorney, Tony's lawyer, to investigate as her assistant, and the effort leads to the capture of the real killer, putting Carol in extreme danger.

The crime-fighting team may have broken up, but crime hasn't disappeared in Bradfield: Someone is kidnapping and killing women who look like Carol Jordan:  Professionally attired blondes in their 30s. 

Events come very close to Paula and her partner Dr. Elinor Blessing, when Bev McAndrew,  a pharmacist at the city's hospital, and a colleague of Elinor's, goes missing. Paula and Elinor take in Torin, Bev's 14-year- old son (his father is serving in Afghanistan). 

 In my review of "The Vanishing Point" I commented on the blood and gore of a typical McDermid thriller -- something I had heard about from a friend who also writes crime thrillers. Warning: there is plenty of graphically described violence in "Cross and Burn" -- but it's not gratuitous. This is a classic McDermid page-turner that her fans will love.

Val McDermid
Val McDermid

About the Author

Val McDermid is the author of more than two dozen best-selling novels and short story collections, which have been translated into over thirty languages and have sold over ten million copies worldwide.  
Carol Jordan, Tony Hill, Paula McIntyre, Alex Fielding and other McDermid characters have been filmed in the British TV series "Wire in the Blood" that ran from 2002 to 2008. Visit McDermid at her website: and follow her on Twitter@valmcdermid.
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