Val McDermid has taken the somewhat unusual step of adding a surprise ending to the surprise ending of her latest novel. But more of that in a moment: I started the week by listening to the latest radio adaptation of ‘Rebus’. Fleshmarket Close is a novel I know fairly well, and so far (this was just episode 1) it is excellently done. Except for one thing: they have made Siobhan Clarke Scottish! This is just plain wrong. As anyone knows who has read the books, one of the main features of Clarke is her Englishness, the fact that she has to struggle to be accepted not only as a woman in CID but as a Sassenach in Scotland. So that spoilt it somewhat for me as all the way through I was shouting ‘Siobhan is English!’ at the radio.
However that was more than compensated for by discovering Val McDermid’s latest in the library. ‘Insidious Intent’ which I believe is a quotation from T S Eliot (yes, google confirms that as I thought it’s from Prufrock:
is the latest in the Carol Jordan series. I know I blogged about the TV adaptations (Wire in the Blood) a while back, complaining that you wouldn’t know Carol Jordan was the main character in the books as Tony Hill (her friend and sidekick) completely takes over; in fact you could be forgiven for thinking it was the Robson Green show:
McDermid’s is a world largely run by women and in Insidious Intent she has upped her game to a new level of quantum entanglement (hang on, that’s a thing isn’t it? Let’s ask the oracle. If you have two quanta with a common origin and you measure one they will both be in the same state. Thanks, oracle. Not sure how that helps us here, but still…) anyway, in this latest novel we catch up once again with Jordan and Hill, now sharing a converted barn (though not in the biblical sense) while Jordan gets over the trauma of seeing her brother and sister-in-law murdered and goes cold turkey on the alcoholism which nearly ruined her career.
Tony Hill is something of a redeemed character – product of a cold and abusive mother and an absent father, he has reinvented himself, partly through police work and partly through his relationship with Carol Jordan. This relationship is tested to its limits and beyond as REmit, the new murder unit headed up by Jordan, handles its first case: the case of The Wedding Killer. A serial murderer picks women up at weddings and later kills them; clever and forensically aware, he outwits the police until the very end.
And here’s the thing. This is a new novel; released just this summer and with an ending that is bound to stun all but the most Sherlockian of readers. I certainly didn’t see it coming: I sat there saying ‘Oh, my God!’ for about five minutes and it was fully ten before I could bring myself to say anything else. But eventually I turned the page to see a note from the author asking readers not to give away the ending. Quite right, too – there’s far too much of this sort of thing; not only in blogs, reviews and on social media but often from the publishers themselves. It’s like film trailers which show you everything, or TV programmes that finish with what’s going to happen in the next episode. I don’t want to know!!! I’ll watch it next week, thank you very much – and I’ll thank you not to spoil it.
Enough. So nothing will induce me to give away the ending to ‘Insidious Intent’ because if I told you that, I’d have to kill myself.