Insidious Intent by Val McDermid

Reviewed by Antonella Townsend

My preference is warm and fuzzy, champagne and strawberries, novels; or a sedate romance, with scones and Earl Grey Tea.  But Insidious Intent is definitely a liquorice toffee and strong coffee, very strong coffee, thriller.   I would have said Wild Turkey Bourbon, but it feels like you’re part of the Regional Major Incident Team (ReMIT) and you really have to keep your wits about you.  Besides DCI Carol Jordan is on the wagon and one must keep in step with the heroine.  Psychological profiler, Tony Hill, her best mate, is urging her to keep off the booze as her enemies are circling.  A legion of demons from the past means an enormous scandal is never far behind, posing a mind bending moral dilemma for both of them.  The future of the newly formed ReMIT is in her hands and there is a highly intelligent serial killer busy planning his next move.   To add to the tension ReMIT team member Sergeant Paula McIntyre has a cyber crime to solve of a personal nature.  She seeks the help of team member Stacey Chen, an IT genius, and this interferes with their focus at a crucial point.

The narrative is related in alternating chapters each providing the perspective of different aspects of plot and character, including the murderer!   One minute you are involved with the technical aspects of solving crime, then the personal lives of team members.   And the murderer!   Their lives are complicated.  A little bit of light relief comes in the form of Stacey Chen’s revenge on her ex – no one crosses Stacey and survives.   Loved Stacey.

The setting is the North of England and normal life ticks along, but then during a wedding party a lonely single woman meets her killer.  The same fate befalls other women in other weddings.   And this is only rehearsal for the intended victim.  There isn’t a trace of forensic evidence as the bodies are always found in a burnt out car.  This is an impossible crime to solve but so much is riding on a successful outcome.   Pressure is building; the Home Office wants results to match their financial outlay to start up ReMIT, while enemies within the police force are seeking to derail DCI Carol Jordan, whose personal issues are also escalating.   Tony Hill is ever present providing personal support and as a psychological profiler on the case.

And that is as far as I go with plot info, except to say: I didn’t see it coming!  It’s a must read.

This is my first Val McDermid novel and it is clear I have some catching up to do.  Devotees of this genre will be well aware DCI Jordan and Tony Hill have a long history together, nine other novels in fact.  McDermid has also written many other crime novels: the Lindsay Gordon, Kate Brannigan and Karen Pirie, series.   She is considered the current leading crime writer in the U.K.   Clearly it is going to take some time for me to get into the Val McDermid loop, but I think it will be time worth spent.

Insidious Intent

By Val McDermid

Hachette Australia

ISBN: 978140870937

$29.99; 419pp

e-Book         9781408709344   –  $16.99

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