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The Mermaids Singing (Tony Hill and Carol Jordan Series #1)

The Mermaids Singing (Tony Hill and Carol Jordan Series #1)

4.3 48
by Val McDermid

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This was the summer he discovered what he wanted--at a gruesome museum of criminology far off the beaten track of more timid tourists. Visions of torture inspired his fantasies like a muse. It would prove so terribly fulfilling.

The bodies of four men have been discovered in the town of Bradfield. Enlisted to investigate is criminal psychologist Tony Hill. Even


This was the summer he discovered what he wanted--at a gruesome museum of criminology far off the beaten track of more timid tourists. Visions of torture inspired his fantasies like a muse. It would prove so terribly fulfilling.

The bodies of four men have been discovered in the town of Bradfield. Enlisted to investigate is criminal psychologist Tony Hill. Even for a seasoned professional, the series of mutilation sex murders is unlike anything he's encountered before. But profiling the psychopath is not beyond him. Hill's own past has made him the perfect man to comprehend the killer's motives. It's also made him the perfect victim.

A game has begun for the hunter and the hunted. But as Hill confronts his own hidden demons, he must also come face-to-face with an evil so profound he may not have the courage--or the power--to stop it...

The Mermaids Singing is a chilling and taut psychological mystery from Val McDermid.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Compelling and shocking” —Minette Walters

“Complex...powerful...psychologically terrifying...impossible to out down.” —Publishers Weekly

“Exciting, rapid-fire...a satisfying descent into the territory of a twisted mind.” —Booklist

Product Details

St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
Tony Hill and Carol Jordan Series , #1
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
4.20(w) x 6.70(h) x 1.11(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Gentlemen, I have, had the honour to be appointed by your committee to the trying task of reading the Williams' Lecture on Murder, considered as one of the Fine Arts; a task which might be easy enough three or four centuries ago, when the art was little understood, and few great models had been exhibited, but in this age, when masterpieces of excellence have been executed by professional men, it must be evident, that in the style of criticism applied to them, the public will look for something of a corresponding improvement.

Tony Hill tucked his hands behind his head and stared up at the ceiling. There was a fine web of cracks around the elaborate plaster rose which surrounded the light fitting, but he was oblivious to it. The faint light of dawn tinged with the orange of sodium streetlamps filtered in through a triangular gap at the top of his curtains, but he had no interest in that either Subconsciotisly, he registered the central-heating boiler kicking in, readying itself to take the edge off the damp winter dull that seeped in round door and window frames. His nose was cold, his eyes gritty He couldn't remember the last time he had a straight night's sleep. His concerns about what he bad to get through that day was part of the reason for the nights interrupted dreams, but there was more than that. Much more.

As if today wasn't more than enough to worry about. He knew what was expected of him, but delivering it was another story Other people managed these things with nothing more than a short-lived flutter in the stomach, but not Tony. It required all his resources to maintain the facade he'd needto get through the day. In circumstances like these, he understood how much it took out of method actors to produce the fraught, driven performances that captivated their audiences. By tonight, he'd be good for nothing except another vain attempt at eight hours' sleep.

He shifted in bed, pulling one hand out and running it through his short dark hair. He scratched the stubble on his chin and sighed. He knew what he wanted to do today, but equally, he was well aware it would be professional suicide if he did. it didn't matter that he knew there was a serial killer loose in Bradfield. He couldn't afford to be the one to say it first. His stomach clenched on emptiness and he winced. With a sigh, he pushed the duvet back and got out of bed, shaking his legs to unfurl the concertina folds of his baggy pyjamas.

Tony trudged off to the bathroom and snapped on the light. As he emptied his bladder, he reached out with his free hand and switched on the radio. Bradfield Sound's traffic announcer was revealing the mornings projected bottlenecks with a cheerfulness that no motorist could have equalled without large doses of Prozac. Thankful that he wouldn't be driving that morning, Tony turned to the sink.

He gazed into his deep-set blue eyes, still bleary with sleep. Whoever said the eyes were mirrors of the soul was I a true bullshit merchant, he thought ironically. Probably just as well, or he wouldn't have an intact mirror in the house. He undid the top button of his pyjama jacket and opened the bathroom cabinet, reaching out for the shaving foam. The tremor he spotted in his hand stopped him short. Angrily, he slid the door shut with a loud crack and reached up for his electric razor. He hated the shave it produced, never leaving him with the fresh, clean feeling that came from a wet shave. But better to feel vaguely scruffy than to turn up looking like a walking illustration of the death of a thousand cuts.

The other disadvantage of the electric razor was that he didn't have to concentrate so hard on what he was doing, leaving his mind free to range over the day ahead. Sometimes it was tempting to imagine that everybody was like him, getting up each morning and selecting a persona for the day But he had learned over years of exploring other peopIe's minds that it wasn't so. For most people, the available selection was severely limited. Some people would doubtless be grateful for the choices that knowledge, skill and necessity had brought Tony. He wasn't one of diem.

As he switched Off the razor, he heard the frantic chords that preceded every news summary on Brad field Sound. With a sense of foreboding, he turned to face the radio, tense and alert as a middle-distance runner waiting for the starting pistol. At the end of the five-minute bulletin, he sighed with relief and pushed open the shower curtain. He'd expected a revelation that would have been impossible for him to ignore. But so far, the body count was still three.

On the other side of the city, John Brandon, Bradfield Metropolitan Police's Assistant Chief Constable (Crime) stooped over the washbasin and stared glumly into the bathroom mirror. Not even the shaving soap covering his face like a Santa Claus beard could give him an air of benevolence. If he hadn't chosen the police, he'd have been an ideal candidate for a career as a funeral director. He was two inches over six feet, slim to the point of skinny, with deepset dark eyes and prematurely steel-grey hair Even when he smiled, his long face managed to sustain an air of melancholy.. Today, he thought, he looked like a bloodhound with a head cold. At least there was good reason for his misery. He was about to pursue a course of action that would be as popular with his Chief Constable as a priest in an Orange Lodge.

Brandon sighed deeply, spattering the mirror with foam. Derek Armthwaite, his Chief, had the burning blue eyes of a visionary, but there was nothing revolutionary in what they saw He was a man who thought the Old Testament a more appropriate handbook for police officers than the Police And Criminal Evidence Act. He believed most modem police methods were not only ineffective but also heretical...

Meet the Author

Val McDermid was a journalist for sixteen years and is now a full-time writer living in South Manchester. In 1995, she won the Gold Dagger Award for Best Crime Novel of the Year. Her novel, A Place of Execution, won a Los Angeles Times Book Prize, was nominated for the Edgar Award for Best Novel, and named a New York Times Notable Book of the Year.

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The Mermaids Singing (Tony Hill and Carol Jordan Series #1) 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 48 reviews.
sandiek More than 1 year ago
England is faced with a serial killer. He targets gay men and tortures them with medieval tactics and painstakingly recreated devices before killing them. Baffled, the police bring in a new resource. Dr. Tony Hill has been the head of the criminally insane hospital unit that houses England's existing serial killers for several years. As such, he has more insight into the minds and motivations of such men than the average policeman. Detective Inspector Carol Jordan is intent on making her way to the top. She realises that as a woman detective, she will have to work twice as hard, and she is fine with that. Carol is selected to work with Dr. Hill, and she finds his methods fascinating. His work, especially the psychological profile he prepares, shows her different ways of bringing investigations to a successful close. But the killings go on. More men are killed and shockingly, one is a member of the police force. The killer is obviously thumbing his nose at the police, defying them to discover his identity and end his murderous spree. Will Dr. Hill and Dectective Jordan, along with the task force dedicated to the case manage to end his reign of terror? The Mermaids Singing is Val McDermid's introductory volume in the Hill/Jordan series. She has since written six others. The books are very popular and have also been dramatized into a miniseries. McDermid's forte is strong characterization and the relationships formed between members of a police force and between the law-breakers and the law-enforcers. This book is enthusiastically recommended for all mystery or thriller fans.
Coggy More than 1 year ago
The thing that made me read this was a Character in another book mentioned it. Then I saw the awards and figure what they heck. The book was a good read and would recommend it if you had a strong stomach for the stuff. The problem I had with it is that the ending came way to fast with out a lot of explanation. All of a sudden it was over which was a bummer. Decent read though.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book after seeing the British tv show based on the Tony Hill and Carol Jordan characters, which I loved. The book only added to my love of the characters and my understanding of them. I would recommend it to any mystery reader.
miss_dobie More than 1 year ago
This lady writes with Super Glue. It's just impossible to put her stories down. Yeah, they're that brilliant, captivating and so very wonderfully written.
MysteryReaderLB More than 1 year ago
I couldn't put this book down. Very descriptive and mind blowing so I just ordered #2 and #3 as don't want to wait.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This British mystery/thriller was a great read. I was definately on the edge of my seat wanting more. Couldn't wait to start the other books in the series. GREAT READ!
Goose5587 More than 1 year ago
This was the second book by this author that I have read and I must say I was not let down!!! Do not read if you have a weak stomach. It is very gruesome. The torture devices are describe it great detail along with the damage they inflict. Otherwise I would highly recommend this book. The plot and characters are very well written.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this is one of the top 10 favorite books of mine that I have read in 10 years... it is fast-paced, scary, thrilling, and spectacular... it demonstrates fully how depraved some humans can be, and how dangerous, and how close to us... don't miss it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book, I must say, was really good. This is the first book that I've read by this author. I'll definately be buying more from her.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Brodk More than 1 year ago
A good book that should have been better. The too-sensitive profiler and a female partner that both adores and is repelled by him. Standard mystery, intelligent serial killer who taunts the police with bizarre crimes. While I liked the book, I feel that the serial killer tropes are standard stuff; maybe the subsequent titles in the series are better. I half-heartedly recommend it.
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Yankees_1_Fan More than 1 year ago
On the edge of my seat.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Carlin More than 1 year ago
Truly sick and twisted. But she writes well. Had she not, I would not have finished.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
GinaK More than 1 year ago
I was having difficulties with McDermid's newest book The Retribution (with the same villain Jacko Vance who has escaped prison and is out for revenge on Carol Jordan and Tony Hill) and decided to go back via Nookbook to a novel that I had read in the past and for which McDermid justly received much praise and several awards. Mermaids Singing is definitely worth reading (or re-reading) because it concentrates on one story line and one villain and works much better than the later novel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
jewelsWA More than 1 year ago
Not for the faint of heart.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Re-read this a couple of weeks ago. Still a deeply disturbing book and very graphic. Some may find it a bit mundane these days, we are somewhat numbed by the amount of violence in our media. But when this first came out it was groundbreaking, it is a classic great read. But, not on "dark and stormy night" on your own.
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