Cross and Burn by Val McDermid

Posted: April 4, 2016 in Book Reviews
Tags: , , , , , ,

the-hardest-thing-in-life-is-to-know-which-bridge-to-cross-and-which-to-burn7

I read Cross and Burn during my three hour wait at Heathrow airport and the onward journey to Hong Kong. The sense of increasing menace and suspense kept me absorbed and made my long journey much better than expected.

I’m a fan of Val McDermid’s Tony Hill and Carol Jordan’s series of crime novels, but read this one out of sequence as I had somehow managed to miss numbers 7 & 8. Cross and Burn is number 8. The novel starts with an estranged Tony and Carol and it is obvious from the first chapter that something really bad happened in book 7. Something which has left all the main characters with psychological and sometimes physical damage.

The way that Val McDermid shows the fallout from the events of the previous book without describing what took place is subtle and effective. Something I found enlightening as I write my own sequel to Revenge Ritual and need to show how the shocking events at the end of my recent novel have affected the remaining characters.

In true McDermid style, the antagonist’s point of view is interspersed with the other characters to provide foreshadowing of the violence and danger to come. Although the victim’s viewpoints are only represented in a few short chapters, as a reader you care about their fate, especially for the mother whose fourteen year old son reports her missing at the start of the book. There is still plenty about Carol and Tony’s on-off relationship, although they don’t spend much time together on the page until near the end. It is probably due to this that newly promoted DS Paula McIntyre carries most of the main narrative and provides the catalyst to pull the old MIT team back together.

Although it is a brilliant and compelling psychological thriller, what I really enjoyed were the insights of the lead characters to the situations they encountered, revealing a satisfying blend of despair and strength and going deeper into their characterization than in previous books in the series. A brilliant read – especially for long journeys.

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