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

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

by Val McDermid

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250094032
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 03/01/2005
Series: Tony Hill and Carol Jordan Series , #1
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 324,814
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)

About 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 for The Mermaids Singing. 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.

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...

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The Mermaids Singing (Tony Hill and Carol Jordan Series #1) 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 59 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.
-Eva- on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Clinical Psychologist Dr. Tony Hall is brought in by police to profile a nasty serial killer with a penchant for medieval torture devices. I'm not particularly squeamish, but this got a bit too gruesome at times, even for me. I can only assume that McDermid thought long and hard to come up with the most nauseating modus operandi imaginable, and really successfully too. My big problem is that I don't quite believe in Tony Hall. Not that he's impossible, but he has rather a few too many quirks to be completely plausible. And, of course, Carol Jordan's reactions to him get unrealistic as well. I'm guessing they get better as the series goes on. Although I wasn't entirely convinced by the characters, the mystery is solid, the stakes high, and the writing high quality, so I'll definitely be reading other McDermid books.Since reading this, I've seen Robson Green's take on Tony Hill in Wire in the Blood and he's quite convincing. Strange as that sounds (especially on a site like LT...), I think I would have accepted Hill better had I seen the TV series first.
jerhogan on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Nice twist! Solid thriller with McDermid's trademark humanity.
mazda502001 on LibraryThing 5 months ago
This is the first in the Tony Hill series and a good psychological thriller. Gripping stuff - a good read.Back Cover Blurb:Up till now, the only serial killers Tony Hill had encountered were safely behind bars. This one's different - this one's on the loose.In the northern town of Bradfield four men have been found mutilated and tortured. Fear grips the city: no man feels safe.Clinical psychologist Tony Hill is brought in to profile the killer. A man with more than enough sexual problems of his own, Tony himself becomes the unsuspecting target in a battle of wits and wills where he has to use every ounce of his professional skill and personal nerve to survive.
Cecilturtle on LibraryThing 5 months ago
This book was somewhat of a disappointment. I'm not keen on torture which was a major theme of the book and although the characters were well developed, they were predictable to the point that I'd figured out who the murderer was in the first 100 pages (and I'm usually totally clueless!). I'm surprised this book got an award - it must have been a slow year.
avalon_today on LibraryThing 5 months ago
If you are looking for a gritty, dark, disturbing murder mystery, then look no further. From beginning to end, the action is non-stop. I was amazed how the BBC series Wire in the Blood brings to life the book. And Robson Green is Tony Hill.
callmecayce on LibraryThing 5 months ago
I'm a huge fan of the TV show and decided to give the first Tony Hill novel a go. It was very good, but hard to read -- even though I'd seen the episode that was taken from this novel. What I really liked was that my versions of Tony and Carl were based on the TV show and I think that made the novel that much more enjoyable (if reading about serial killers can be considered a joy).
cmwilson101 on LibraryThing 5 months ago
This book is one of a series of books by Val McDermid about the neurotic, socially inept but brilliant criminal profiler, Tony Hill, and assertive, maverick detective Carol Jordan, and the odd, dependent relationship that develops between them as they solve crimes together. This story (the first in the series), revolves around a series of killings in the town of Bradfield. Tony is brought in to help catch the killer via profiling, and Carol is eventually won over. As always, there is a good cast of supporting characters, all of whom are realistically multi-faceted and interesting.
FoxyLibrarian71 on LibraryThing 5 months ago
This is a dark, graphic psychological thriller that is very well written. As always it is probably the best book in the series.
moontyger on LibraryThing 5 months ago
The fact that I watched the TV show first obviously affected my experience of this book. As I expected, the book has far more details, but it is hard to avoid a comparison. And, of course, I already knew the solution. That said, I still enjoyed it, and I especially liked the much clearer picture I got of Tony Hill in this book.
debavp on LibraryThing 5 months ago
The first in a series and I honestly don't know how McDermid ever became as wildly successful as she did. I do understand now why it was so difficult to find a copy. This is the first time I have ever had to skip an entire section of a book because I couldn't stomach the subject and the absolute lack of need to go to such ridiculous lengths with it. The only reason I continued past the first few pages was the challenge of determining what Hill's "secret" was and that he might indeed be an intriguing character. What I found as the book wore on, and I do mean "wore", was that the character of DI Golden actually became much more interesting than finding out what Hill's dirty little secret was. By the end, there was no surprise as to whom the villian turned out to be, only that if further installments of these characters are anywhere as disgusting as this initial attempt, it was too bad they weren't all taken out. This one goes to the rubbish bin.
PirateJenny on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I was wrong. Mostly wrong anyway. About who the killer was. I got part of it right. And I'm unsure if I remembered it from the tv series Wire in the Blood (which I miss horribly since I no longer have BBC America--damn Cablevision!). Excellent book. Except for that issue at the beginning with the fourth body--I still maintain Tony should have seen what had been done to him at the crime scene. But I was able to overlook it. I'm now addicted to Val McDermid (I've started the next Hill/Jordan book already). I do keep picturing the actors from the tv show as the characters, but I'm okay with that. The changes they made for the tv show are interesting though, and the characters are obviously a lot more complex in the book. John Connolly said recently in his blog that the problem with buying new books is that the room he has to keep books doesn't expand and that it's like his books breed. I see this happening with Val McDermid's books (and Connolly's for that matter). There are so many!
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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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