If I Told You That, I’d Have to Kill Myself…

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.

Kirk out


I’m a Three-Headed Girl

Yes, this morning I am able to divide my head into three, just like Chris Conway’s Three-Headed Girl.  That’s my favourite song of his and I was really pleased when he did it last night, the audience standing in for the backing vocals:


Chris’s lyrics are always amusing and inventive and as a poet I appreciate his use of rhyme.  So that’s one head this morning, reliving the music and the beer – a light and hoppy JSB at the Criterion:



The other two heads are engaged in reading: one has just finished Kathy Reichs’ ‘Bones are Forever’:


and the other is stuck in a Val McDermid, ‘Crack Down’.  Both writers have two main series of novels featuring separate – and female – characters.  The Val McDermid is part of a series featuring Kate Brannigan, a private eye; though her best-known work showcases detective Carol Jordan and her sort-of consort Tony Hill:


So that’s me this morning: a three-headed girl.

Kirk out

Women on the Verge of a TV Series

Well, I haven’t watched very much of note this week, apart from an episode of ‘Wire in the Blood’.  This is the collective name for the dramatisation of Val McDermid’s novels featuring DCI Carol Jordan, psychologist Tony Hill and later, after Carol moves on, DC Paula McIntyre.

It was well-done, on the whole: well dramatised with lots of very close close-ups; so close that it felt as if you were getting right in the character’s face and almost inside their skin.  The story was well told and gripping – and I couldn’t guess the denouement.  So for an ITV drama it got good marks from me.  I just couldn’t help wondering, though.  Tony Hill is played by Robson Green (sounds like a TV series in itself) and whereas in the books, Hill is a secondary character, here he’s in almost every scene; doubting, questing, examining, torturing himself with fears, twisting and turning, facing the camera and turning away again: it could be the Tony Hill Show (or the Robson Green show) – and that’s not at all how I remember the books.  Women are at the centre of McDermid’s books, and presumably by design; so to have this guy so totally taking over the show seemed like some sort of betrayal to me.

I also thought I caught a glimpse of Val McDermid herself at one point – just walking past as an extra- and I wondered whether she makes an appearance from time to time in these shows.  Does anyone know?

Anyway, here’s the episode I watched:


I also watched the first scene of Saving Private Ryan, a film I have never seen before.  The initial scene is about 20 minutes long, filmed with a hand-held camera and gives a very strong impression of what a battlefield is like.


I’ll leave you with Mark’s weather forecast for the day: wind, rain and coastal thudding.

So there you are.

Kirk out

PS the title of today’s post is of course a reference to that great Almodovar film, ‘Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.’  I saw Almodovar once, in a cinema in Madrid.  He came in wearing his trademark yellow blazer and the staff rushed forward to usher him in through the barrier.