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Trick of the Dark

Trick of the Dark

3.4 7
by Val McDermid

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"Val McDermid is one of the bright lights of the mystery field."—The Washington Post

"She's the best we've got."—The New York Times Book Review

Barred from practice, disgraced psychiatrist Charlie Flint receives a mysterious summons to Oxford from an old professor who wants her to look into the death of her daughter's husband. But as


"Val McDermid is one of the bright lights of the mystery field."—The Washington Post

"She's the best we've got."—The New York Times Book Review

Barred from practice, disgraced psychiatrist Charlie Flint receives a mysterious summons to Oxford from an old professor who wants her to look into the death of her daughter's husband. But as Charlie delves deeper into the case and steps back into the arcane world of Oxford colleges, she realizes that there is much more to this crime than meets the eye.

Val McDermid has published twenty-four novels. An internationally best-selling author, her books have been translated into thirty languages. She has won more than a dozen major awards, most recently the 2010 Crime Writers' Association Cartier Diamond Dagger Award for outstanding achievement in the field of mysteries.

Product Details

Bywater Books MI
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
8.24(w) x 5.62(h) x 0.82(d)

Read an Excerpt

Trick of the Dark

By Val McDermid

Bywater Books

Copyright © 2011 Val McDermid
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9781932859829

Chapter 7

Once upon a time, Charlie had been more than a little in love with Dr. Corinna Newsam. There were several very good reasons behind an infatuation that had lasted for most of her first year at St Scholastika’s College. Corinna, the college’s junior philosophy fellow, was the smartest woman she’d ever met. She was also the least stuffy academic, the most challenging conversationalist and the most demanding teacher Charlie had encountered. She was charmed by Corinna’s Canadian accent, in awe of her mind and attracted by her sardonic smile. The husband, four children and adamantine Catholicism were mere details that barely impinged on Charlie’s dreamy fantasies. And she never noticed that, like the family, she was entirely under Corinna’s thumb.
And now she was going to have to pluck up the courage to call her. It wouldn’t have been such a trial six months before, when Charlie had still been someone with a decent professional reputation, albeit tinged with a degree of notoriety. But now? Charlie stared at the phone and sighed.
"Oh, bugger,” Charlie muttered, reaching for the handset. This time of day, Corinna should still be in college.
"St Scholastika’s College. How may I help you?” The burr of a local accent that sounded as if it had escaped from a BBC costume drama.
"I’d like to speak to Dr. Newsam,” Charlie said, more brusque than she’d intended.
"May I ask who’s calling?”
"Dr. Charlotte Flint.”
"Dr. Flint? How nice to hear you. One moment, I’ll see if Dr. Newsam’s available.”
Bloody Oxford. Never lets you go. Charlie waited, hollow silence in her ear. Nothing as tacky as canned muzak for her alma mater. She’d almost given up when she heard a sharp click followed by a familiar drawl. "Charlie? Is that really you?”
"Corinna,” she said, taken aback by the warmth she suddenly felt. "But you’re not really surprised, are you?”
"That depends on why you’re calling.”
The joust was on. Charlie felt tired at the thought of it. She moved in a different world these days, and she preferred it. "I’m calling because you sent me a package of newspaper clippings,” she said. "About the trial of the two people who allegedly murdered Magda’s husband on their wedding day.”
"Why would I do that?” Corinna sounded as if this were no more important than a routine tutorial inquiry about some detail of an essay.
"I think it was a challenge, Corinna. Given what you sent, would I be able to figure out who had sent it? And why? You did it because you’re a philosopher. You’ve grown so accustomed to setting everyone tests and challenges that you’ve forgotten how to ask a straight question.”
"And what could my motivation for such a challenge possibly be?” Charlie thought she could hear tension in Corinna’s voice now, but she couldn’t swear to it.
"I’m not sure,” she said. "But I did track down one photograph that gave me pause. I think if I was a mother and my daughter was running around with Jay Macallan Stewart, I’d be shouting for the cavalry. Now, I know I’m not everybody’s idea of the cavalry, but I’m probably all you could think of at short notice.”
There was no humour in Corinna’s laugh. "I thought my memory was still reliable. You always had a gift for investigation and resolution. It’s good to see the years have only sharpened it. Well done, Charlie.”
"What’s all this about, Corinna? Apart from me being your self-fulfilling prophecy?”
"I need your help.”
Charlie sighed. "It’s seventeen years since I graduated, Corinna. You don’t know anything about me.”
"I know enough, Charlie. I feel pretty certain you’ve got a burning desire to redeem yourself right now.”
Charlie closed her eyes and massaged her forehead. "That’s a little presumptuous, don’t you think?”
A moment’s silence, then Corinna spoke crisply. "We know you here, Charlie. And there is a strong feeling among the senior members in college that you have been made a scapegoat. That you have in fact acted with honour and honesty. It may have been uncomfortable, but it was right to stand up for Bill Hopton’s innocence when he was actually innocent. It’s not your fault he went on his killing spree afterwards.”
"Some might disagree with you,” Charlie said, her voice weary. "Some might say it was his very experiences at the hands of those of us involved in law enforcement that sent him over the edge.”
"Speaking as a philosopher, I find that an untenable proposition,” Corinna said briskly. "Now, there’s nothing we can do to help you professionally, obviously. Although I’m sure, where influence exists, it’s being brought to bear. But what I can do is offer you the chance to be useful. To use your skills for good, if you like.”
Charlie didn’t know why, but she felt like laying her head on the desk and weeping. "I don’t have the faintest idea what you’re on about, Corinna. And I’m pretty sure I don’t want to.”
"Charlie, we can help each other here. But a phone call isn’t the way to do this. Come and talk to me. Come to Oxford for the weekend.”
"I don’t think so, Corinna.”
"All I’m asking is that you listen to me, Charlie. I understand the reason you do what you do. It’s because you have a desire to protect the vulnerable. Right now, Charlie, my daughter has never been more vulnerable. Can your conscience really afford any more burdens?”
"That’s a very poor effort at emotional blackmail, Corinna.”
"You said yourself if you had a daughter who was running around with Jay Macallan Stewart, you’d be shouting for help. That’s all I’m doing here.”
"I understand that. But I’m not the person to help with this. I don’t know how to break up Magda and Jay Stewart.”
"I’m not asking you to separate my daughter from Jay Macallan Stewart,” Corinna said, sounding ruffled for the first time. "I wouldn’t be so crass. What I’m asking is that you bring your talents to bear on uncovering that truth. At heart, this is about a miscarriage of justice. I thought you still cared about that kind of thing, Charlie.”
It doesn’t take long for silence on a phone to loom large. After a few empty seconds, Charlie said, "I don’t understand.”
"Paul Barker and Joanna Sanderson did not kill my son-in-law, Charlie. The jury’s out today, the evidence is stacked against them. They’re going to jail. And it’s wrong.”
"Haven’t you left it a bit late to try and drag me into this? If it was really about avoiding a miscarriage of justice, surely you should have called me weeks ago.”
Corinna’s exasperated sigh was not unfamiliar to Charlie. "This hasn’t exactly been easy for me. I thought it would be thrown out of court. I had no idea how far . . . Look, Charlie, what matters here is that the two people in the dock are innocent. They didn’t kill Philip.”
Charlie couldn’t help herself. "Who did?”
"Some things don’t work over the phone. Come and talk to me, Charlie.”
Hook, line and sinker, Charlie thought. Here we go again.


Excerpted from Trick of the Dark by Val McDermid Copyright © 2011 by Val McDermid. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Val McDermid: Val McDermid has published 24 novels. An international bestseller, her books have been translated into almost 30 languages. She has won more than a dozen major awards. In 2010 she won the Crime Writers' Association Cartier Diamond Dagger Award for outstanding achievement in the field of mysteries.

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Trick of the Dark 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
amysterytome More than 1 year ago
One of my most favorite authors. Hadn't read all if her crime stories with Lindsay Gordon so this Summer my mission was to read them all...good, easy, and interesting reads!! Great beach books...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Carlin More than 1 year ago
Sometimes I want to shake the main character for her stupidity. Sometimes I want to shake Val McDermid for over writing a scene. But, in general, I think she can write well and I enjoyed this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lynie More than 1 year ago
Psychiatrist and psychological profiler Charlie Flint's pivotal testimony at Bill Hopton's murder trial allowed him to go free. Charlie's professional life is now in limbo because Hopton murdered four people after his acquittal, and she has been suspended from practicing while an investigation into the circumstances is ongoing. With time on her hands, Charlie is contacted by Corinna Newsam, one of her old professors at Oxford, and agrees to look into the murder of her daughter's husband. Philip Carling was bludgeoned to death at his wedding reception and his business partners have been charged with the crime. Charlie is married to her life partner, but after seven years she's not sure she's still committed to Maria. She's very attracted to Lisa Kent, a self-help guru. While trying to decipher her own emotions, Charlie learns that Carling's young widow Magdelena is involved in a lesbian relationship with Jay Stewart, an author who also attended Oxford. The more Charlie learns about Carling's death, the more convinced she is that his partners are innocent. As she delves into the past, she begins to unravel the deadly trail left by the murderer; a twisted trail that leads all the way back to Oxford. TRICK OF THE DARK is an intricate and explosive tale of deadly secrets and murder. Lynn Kimmerle
Fruu More than 1 year ago
„Alle Ewigkeit will Rache“ ist ein weiteres Buch der berühmten Krimiautorin Val McDermid. Leider kannte ich zuvor weder die Autorin, noch ihre bisher erschienenen Werke. Das liegt einfach daran, dass ich normalerweise keine Krimis lese. Mit gefällt das Genre nicht sonderlich, obwohl ich mich des Öfteren daran versucht habe. Somit habe ich mich vorerst einmal darüber informiert und bin auf viele positive Reaktionen auf ihre Kriminalromane gestoßen. Zusammenfassend bin ich also zweigeteilter Meinung an das Buch herangegangen. Die Story handelt hauptsächlich von Charlie Flint – nicht vom Namen ablenken lassen, wie es mir passiert ist, es handelt sich hierbei um eine Frau. Sie arbeitet als „Spezialistin“ für psychologisches Profiling mit der Polizei zusammen. Aufgrund einer folgenschweren Entscheidung in der Vergangenheit ist sie nun vom Dienst suspendiert und hat damit schwer zu kämpfen. Gerade in dieser Zeit erhält sie Post von einer unbekannten Person. Inhalt sind Zeitungsausschnitte über einen Mord, der vor längerer Zeit an ihrem alten College in Oxford geschehen ist. Also begibt sich Charlie auf eine Spurensuche in die Vergangenheit. Meiner Meinung nach hat sich die Geschichte recht vielversprechend angehört. Eine Ermittlerin in einer ihrer schwersten Zeiten verstrickt in einen mysteriösen Fall. Leider habe ich schnell feststellen müssen, dass sich die ganze Geschichte recht schleppend abspielt. Zusätzlich muss man ja betonen, dass Charlie ein Diplom in Psychologie, Philosophie und Physiologie hat und keinen Abschluss an einer Akademie des FBI oder was weiß ich. Was bedeutet, dass sie im Grunde genommen keine polizeiliche Ermittlerin ist, sondern eher Gutachten und Ähnliches erstellt. Falls man nun also auf eine spannende Hetzjagd mit Schießerei und so weiter hofft, so hofft man vergebens. Charlie ist Psychiaterin und daher besteht ihre Ermittlungsarbeit auch hauptsächlich darin, mit Leuten zu reden. Das ist nun leider genau die Art von Krimi, die ich gar nicht mag, weshalb ich wohl auch mit einer relativ negativen Einstellung an die Sache rangegangen bin. Aber weiter im Text: Ein weiterer wichtiger Aspekt des Buches ist die Homosexualität der meisten Protagonisten. Sie ist in der ganzen Geschichte recht präsent. Die meisten Hauptdarsteller sind weiblich und lesbisch. Ich habe nichts gegen Homosexualität und fand diesen Aspekt deshalb recht interessant. Zumal ich noch nie ein Buch über dieses Thema bzw. in dem dieses Thema eine Rolle spielte gelesen. Dennoch hat es mich teilweise ein wenig verwirrt. Vermutlich lag das auch daran, dass viele Darsteller männlich Namen besitzen, sich dann aber als Frau entpuppen. Ein weiterer wichtiger Punkt, den man hier behandeln sollte, ist der Schreibstil. Mir persönlich gefällt er nicht. Einfach deshalb, meiner Meinung nach, zu wenig beschrieben wird. Ich mag es, wenn ich mir die Situationen vorstellen kann. Das funktioniert aber nur, wenn der Autor alles so beschreibt, dass man glaubt, man wäre selbst dabei. Das bedeutet nicht, dass man jedes einzelne Haar einer Person beschreiben muss. Man sollte „nur“ das richtige Verhältnis finden. Fazit: Interessante Idee, schade, dass die Umsetzung nicht ebenso interessant ist. Ich hätte mir von der Autorin, aufgrund meiner Recherche, mehr erhofft.