The Torment of Others (Tony Hill and Carol Jordan Series #4)

The Torment of Others (Tony Hill and Carol Jordan Series #4)

by Val McDermid

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780312936099
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 08/29/2006
Series: Tony Hill and Carol Jordan Series , #4
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 416
Product dimensions: 4.22(w) x 6.73(h) x 1.13(d)

About the Author


VAL McDERMID grew up in a Scottish mining community and read English at Oxford. She was a journalist for sixteen years and is now a full-time writer. 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 was named a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. She lives in the north of England.

Read an Excerpt

Part One

Just because you hear voices, it doesn't mean you're mad. You don't have to be well smart to know that. And even though you did all that stuff that made the jury look sick to their stomachs, at least you're clever enough to know that doesn't make you a nutter. All sorts of people have other voices in their heads, everybody knows that. Like on the telly. Even though you can believe it when you're watching it, everybody knows it's not real. And somebody's got to have dreamed it up in the first place without them ending up where you have. Stands to reason.

So you're not worried. Well, not very worried. OK, they said you were insane. The judge said your name, Derek Tyler, and he tagged you with the mad label. But even though he's supposed to be a smart bastard, that judge didn't know he was following the plan. The way to avoid the life sentence that they always hand down when somebody does what you did. If you make them believe you were off your head when you did it, then it isn't you that did the crime, it's the madness in you. And if you're mad, not bad, it stands to reason you can be cured. Which is why they lock you up in the nuthouse instead of the nick. That way the doctors can poke around in your head and have a crack at fixing what's broke.

Of course, if nothing's broke in the first place, the best thing you can do is keep your mouth zipped. Not let on you're as sane as them. Then, when the time is right, you can start talking. Make it look like they've somehow worked their magic and turned you into somebody they can let out on the street again.

It sounded really easy when the Voice explained it. You're pretty sure you got it right, because the Voice went over it so many times you can replay the whole spiel just by closing your eyes and mouthing the words: "I am the Voice. I am your Voice. Whatever I tell you to do is for the best. I am your Voice. This is the plan. Listen very carefully." That's the trigger. That's all it takes. The intro that makes the whole tape play in your head. The message is still there, implanted deep inside your brain. And it still makes sense. Or at least, you think it does.

Only, it's been a long time now. It's not easy, staying on the wrong side of silence day after day, week after week, month after month. But you're pretty proud of the way you've hung on to it. Because there's all the other stuff interfering with the Voice. Therapy sessions where you have to blank what the real nutters are going on about. Counselling sessions where the doctors try and trick you into words. Not to mention the screaming and shouting when somebody goes off on one. Then there's all the background noise of the day room, the TV and the music rumbling round your head like interference.

All you have to fight back with is the Voice and the promise that the word will come when the time is right. And then you'll be back out there, doing what you've discovered you do best.

Killing women.

Find them in the first six hours or you're looking for a corpse. Find them in the first six hours or you're looking for a corpse. The missing children mantra mocked Detective Inspector Don Merrick. He was looking at sixteen hours and counting. And counting was just what the parents of Tim Golding were doing. Counting every minute that took them further from their last glimpse of their son. He didn't have to think about what they were feeling; he was a father and he knew the visceral fear lying in wait to assail any parent whose child is suddenly, unaccountably not where they should be. Mostly, it was history in a matter of minutes when the child reappeared unscathed, usually grinning merrily at the panic of its parents. Nevertheless it was history that left its mark bone deep.

And sometimes there was no relief. No sudden access of anger masking the ravages of ill-defined terror when the child reappeared. Sometimes it just went on and on and on. And Merrick knew the dread would continue screaming inside Alastair and Shelley Golding until his team found their son. Alive or dead. He knew because he'd witnessed the same agony in the lives of Gerry and Pam Lefevre, whose son Guy had been missing now for just over fifteen months. They'd dragged the canal, combed the parks and wasteland within a two-mile radius, but not a trace of Guy had ever surfaced.

Merrick had been the bagman on that inquiry, which was the main reason why he'd been assigned to Tim Golding. He had the knowledge to see whether there were obvious links between the cases. But beyond knowledge, his instincts already nagged that whoever had snatched Guy Lefevre had now claimed his second victim.

He leaned against the roof of his car and swept the long curve of the railway embankment with binoculars. Every available body was down there, combing the scrubby grass for any trace of the eight-year-old boy who had been missing since the previous evening. Tim had been playing with two friends, some complicated game of make-believe involving a superhero that Merrick vaguely remembered his own sons briefly idolizing. The friends had been called in by their mother and Tim had said he was going down the embankment to watch the freight trains that used this spur to bring roadstone from the quarry on the outskirts of the city to the railhead.

Two women heading for the bus stop and bingo thought they'd caught a glimpse of his canary yellow Bradfield Victoria shirt between the trees that lined the top of the steep slope leading down to the tracks. That had been around twenty to eight. Nobody else had come forward to say they'd seen the boy.

His face was already etched on Merrick's mind. The school photograph resembled a million others, but Merrick could have picked out Tim's sandy hair, his open grin and the blue eyes crinkled behind Harry Potter glasses from any line-up. Just as he could have done with Guy Lefevre. Wavy dark brown hair, brown eyes, a scatter of freckles across his nose and cheeks. Seven years old, tall for his age, he'd last been seen heading for an overgrown stand of trees on the edge of Downton Park, about three miles from where Merrick was standing now. It had been around seven on a damp spring evening. Guy had asked his mother if he could go out for another half-hour's play. He'd been looking for birds' nests, mapping them obsessively on a grid of the scrubby little copse. They'd found the grid two days later, on the far edge of the trees, crumpled into a ball twenty yards from the bank of the disused canal that had once run from the railhead to the long-silent wool mills. That had been the last anyone had seen of anything connected to Guy Lefevre.

And now another boy seemed also to have vanished into thin air. Merrick sighed and lowered the binoculars. They'd had to wait for daylight to complete their search of the area. They'd all clung to a faint hope that Tim had had an accident, that he was lying somewhere injured and unable to make himself heard. That hope was dead now. The frustration of having no leads bit deep. Time to round up the usual suspects. Merrick knew from past experience how unlikely it was to produce results, but he wasn't prepared to leave any avenue unexplored.

He pulled out his mobile and called his sergeant, Kevin Matthews. "Kev? Don here. Start bringing the nonces in."

"No sign, then?"

"Not a trace. I've even had a team through the tunnel half a mile up the tracks. No joy. It's time to start rattling some cages."

"How big a radius?"

Merrick sighed again. Bradfield Metropolitan Police area stretched over an area of forty-four square miles, protecting and serving somewhere in the region of 900,000 people. According to the latest official estimates he'd read, that meant there were probably somewhere in the region of 3,000 active paedophiles in the force area. Fewer than ten per cent of that number was on the register of sex offenders. Rather less than the tip of the iceberg. But that was all they had to go on. "Let's start with a two-mile radius," he said. "They like to operate in the comfort zone, don't they?" As he spoke, Merrick was painfully aware that these days, with people commuting longer distances to work, with so many employed in jobs that kept them on the road, with local shopping increasingly a thing of the past, the comfort zone was, for most citizens, exponentially bigger than it had ever been even for their parents' generation. "We've got to start somewhere," he added, his pessimism darkening his voice.

He ended the call and stared down the bank, shielding his eyes against the sunshine that lent the grass and trees below a blameless glow. The brightness made the search easier, it was true. But it felt inappropriate, as if the weather was insulting the anguish of the Goldings. This was Merrick's first major case since his promotion, and already he suspected he wasn't going to deliver a result that would make anybody happy. Least of all him.

Dr. Tony Hill balanced a bundle of files on the arm carrying his battered briefcase and pushed open the door of the faculty office. He had enough time before his seminar group to collect his mail and deal with whatever couldn't be ignored. The psychology department secretary emerged from the inner office at the sound of the door closing. "Dr. Hill," she said, sounding unreasonably pleased with herself.

"Morning, Mrs. Stirrat," Tony mumbled, dropping files and briefcase to the floor while he reached for the contents of his pigeonhole. Never, he thought, was a woman more aptly named. He wondered if that was why she'd chosen the husband she had.

"The Dean's not very pleased with you," Janine Stirrat said, folding her arms across her ample chest.

"Oh? And why might that be?" Tony asked.

"The cocktail party with SJP yesterday evening--you were supposed to be there."

With his back to her, Tony rolled his eyes. "I was engrossed in some work. The time just ran away from me."

"They're a major donor to the behavioural psychology research programme," Mrs. Stirrat scolded. "They wanted to meet you."

Tony grabbed his mail in an unruly pile and stuffed it into the front pocket of his briefcase. "I'm sure they had a wonderful time without me," he said, scooping up his files and backing towards the door.

"The Dean expects all academic staff to support fundraising, Dr. Hill. It's not much to ask, that you give up a couple of hours of your time--"

"To satisfy the prurient curiosity of the executives of a pharmaceutical company?" Tony snapped. "To be honest, Mrs. Stirrat, I'd rather set my hair on fire and beat the flames out with a hammer." Using his elbow to manipulate the handle, he escaped into the corridor without waiting to check the affronted look he knew would be plastered across her face.

Temporarily safe in the haven of his own office, Tony slumped in the chair behind his computer. What the hell was he doing here? He'd managed to bury his unease about the academic life for long enough to accept the Reader's job at St. Andrews, but ever since his brief and traumatic excursion back into the field in Germany, he'd been unable to settle. The growing realization that the university had hired him principally because his was a sexy name on the prospectus hadn't helped. Students enrolled to be close to the man whose profiles had nailed some of the country's most notorious serial killers. And donors wanted the vicarious, voyeuristic thrill of the war stories they tried to cajole from him. If he'd learned nothing else from his sojourn in the university, he'd come to understand that he wasn't cut out to be a performing seal. Whatever talents he possessed, pointless diplomacy had never been among them.

This morning's encounter with Janine Stirrat felt like the last straw. Tony pulled his keyboard closer and began to compose a letter.

Three hours later, he was struggling to recover his breath. He'd set off far too fast and now he was paying the price. He crouched down and felt the rough grass at his feet. Dry enough to sit on, he decided. He sank to the ground and lay spread-eagled till the thumping in his chest eased off. Then he wriggled into a sitting position and savoured the view. From the top of Largo Law, the Firth of Forth lay before him, glittering in the late spring sunshine. He could see right across to Berwick Law, its volcanic cone the prehistoric twin to his own vantage point, separated now by miles of petrol blue sea. He checked off the landmarks: the blunt thumb of the Bass Rock, the May Island like a basking humpback whale, the distant blur of Edinburgh. They had a saying in this corner of Fife: "If you can see the May Island, it's already raining." It didn't look like rain today. Only the odd smudge of cloud broke the blue, like soft streamers of aerated dough pulled from the middle of a morning roll. He was going to miss this when he moved on.

But spectacular views were no justification for turning his back on the true north of his talent. He wasn't an academic. He was a clinician first and foremost, then a profiler. His resignation would take effect at the end of term, which gave him a couple of months to figure out what he was going to do next.

He wasn't short of offers. Although his past exploits hadn't always endeared him to the Home Office establishment, the recent case he'd worked on in Germany and Holland had helped him leapfrog the British bureaucracy. Now the Germans, the Dutch and the Austrians wanted him to work for them as a consultant. Not just on serial murder, but on other criminal activity that treated international frontiers as if they didn't exist. It was a tempting offer, with a guaranteed minimum that would be just about enough to live on. And it would give him the chance to return to clinical practice, even if it was only part-time.

Then, there was Carol Jordan to consider. As always when she came into his thoughts, his mind veered away from direct confrontation. Somehow, he had to find a way to atone for what had happened to her, without her ever knowing that was what he was trying to do.

And so far, he had no idea how he could achieve that.

Copyright © 2004 by Val McDermid. All rights reserved.

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Torment of Others (Tony Hill and Carol Jordan Series #4) 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 22 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I became aware of this author when I stumbled onto the BBC SERIES "Wire in the Blood", which is based on the Tony Hill and Carol Jordan series. They gave nod to Val in the credits and I immediately looked her up! What a great find! Both the books and the splendid adaption to film are quite a find! I will be buying them all and watching every episode! No one does a series better than the BBC!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This novel is fantastically written. It has an amazing plot consisting of two murder investigations and the hostile feelings and emotions between a team of detectives. This book provides an amazing twist and insight into the minds of killers.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Many will remember the superb reading of McDermid's 'The Distant Echo' delivered by Gerard Doyle. His is a voice that can't be pigeon-holed - he can easily adopt any number of accents and is equally deft at performing a variety of genres. With 'The Torment of Others,' a stunning thriller, few will forget hearing, 'Just because you hear voices, it doesn't mean you're mad........And just because you did all that stuff that made the jury look sick to their stomachs....' And so begins McDermid's foray into the nether world of a psychotic mind. A prostitute is found murdered, a gruesome killing that confounds Chief Inspector Carol Jordan as it is a replica of killings that took places several years ago. For these murders Derek Tyler was apprehended, brought to trial and committed to a mental institution. He remains there, existing in almost total silence. Forensic psychiatrist Dr. Tony Hill doesn't believe a copycat is at work. All his experience as a criminal profiler leads him to believe otherwise. It has to be Tyler, which is impossible.......or is it? Jordan believes the answer may be found with an undercover operation - a dangerous, perhaps deadly decision. First rate listening!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a new author for me, but what a author! I just ordered all her other books.
dspoon on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Dr. Tony Hill and Detective Chief Inspector Carol Jordan return in the award-winning series that is the basis for the hit show on BBC America.In a small grim room, the body of a woman is discovered, panic and pain etched in her face. The scene matches in every detail a series of murders two years ago-murders that ended when irrefutable forensic evidence secured the conviction of a deeply disturbed young man named Derek Tyler.But there's no way Tyler could have killed the latest victim. He's been locked up in a mental institution since his trial, barely speaking a word. So is there a copycat?All his years of experience tell top criminal psychologist Dr. Tony Hill that there isn't-but that would make the murders literally impossible. While Hill tries to crack Tyler, DCI Carol Jordan and her team must mount a desperate undercover operation to trap the murderer-a decision that will have terrible consequences.As the tension mounts, a mixture of psychological insight and dogged detective work leads inexorably to a terrifying climax where Tony faces one of the most perverse killers he has ever encountered.
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 fourth in the series), has Carol and Tony trying to track down a killer whose murders have the signature of a killer who is behind bars. There is a good cast of supporting characters, all of whom are realistically multi-faceted and interesting.
dawnbirduk on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Dr Tony Hill and DCI Carol Jordan, 4th book in seriesThe series Wire in the Blood is based on these booksA great book full of twists and turns
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sjn32 More than 1 year ago
great murder mystery with some romance thrown in. One of thoses books you just can't stop reading
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