I’ve been a fan of Val McDermid for a really long time (in fact, in one of her Kate Brannigan books she described my personal ideal domestic set-up – two houses, side by side, linked by a conservatory they both had access to. Separate but together). I read most of the Lindsay Gordon series, and all the Kate Brannigan ones. But Mermaids Singing was something special.
It was truly and amazingly horrible.
It was brutal, it was detailed, it was gripping and nightmare inducing. And it introduced the (more than a little bit squicked out to be honest) Gentle Reader to DCI Carol Jordan and Tony Hill, a profiler, who may or may not be as nutty as some of the people he profiles. I’ve just finished reading Cross and Burn – which is book eight in a series that mostly concentrates on some fairly gruesome crimes in and around Bradfield in the UK, but in the background twists and turns and dances and sidesteps the relationship between Carol and Tony. And if you’ve read the first seven, you’ll understand why Carol and Tony weren’t talking to each other.
It was a cracking read though. I started it one night during the week, and by yesterday morning, all I wanted to do was ignore the housework and settle down on the couch with my book thanks very much. Ok, there were some major leaps and bounds throughout the book that were best described as far fetched. But it still galloped along at a cracking pace. I did work out who it was what done it, and I was really only a step ahead of the police working it out as well. But there were enough red herrings and comeuppances and satisfactory bollockings to make this a bloody good read. And yeah, if you’ve not already read the series, do yourself a favour and get your paws on it. It’s perfect winter reading (and despite the calendar stating quite firmly we’re well into Spring – yesterday was Winter). My children had to wait for their dinner, and once I fed them, everything else had to wait until I finished. I liked it quite a lot.
Now, there may be some spoilers in the next bit, but I shall do my best to be as vague and incoherent as possible without spoiling the story while still making my point…
I like strong female characters in my crime and death. I don’t like wussy little princesses that mince about doing nothing much and expecting some manly man to sweep in at the last minute and save the day. That type of person annoys the absolute bejeezus out of me (that sort of person annoys me in real life as well. Bloody fluffy bunnies.) Nancy Drew gave me the complete shits when I was a teenager. Carol Jordan is indeed a strong woman – she has her weaknesses, and is a bit fond of a cool drink or two. But she’s definitely a strong female character. Which I like. However, I dislike it when characters such as Carol forget where they are and what they’re doing and get themselves into situations that are REALLY STUPID. Fortuitously, although Carol did in fact get herself into a pickle, she was wise enough to acknowledge to herself that she’d stuffed up. And while some blokes did in fact come to the rescue, it was another lady who ultimately saved the day. So she’s forgiven this time, and as long as she remembers to let someone know what she’s up to in future, I’ll be down with that.