The Mermaids Singing by Val McDermid

The Mermaids Singing - Val McDermid

This was a fresh take on a tired format, and I really enjoyed it.


This novel is the first in a series featuring Detective Inspector Carol Jordan and psychologist Dr. Tony Hill, written in the 90's. It doesn't however suffer from being written some time ago; if I hadn't known before, I doubt I would have guessed it. Anyway, when it looks like a series of murders may have been committed by the same individual, Dr. Tony Hill is called in to help the team of police that are on the case. There is a certain amount of resistance to Dr. Hill as his techniques, namely profiling, are a new idea, and to this point in time have only been utilised in America.


I love the gritty urban feel of crime novels set in the UK, so that really helped propel my enjoyment here. It goes without saying then that sense of place was fully developed.


This is a very well written book and one which you may assume will suffer from a tired format, but because its got such a flowing narrative, it never gets bogged down by this. Each chapter also opens with a section from the serial killer’s perspective, which I really liked, as differing perspectives always inject a freshness into a narrative I feel


The relationship between Carol and Tony is very well done and they interact well together. They are well-rounded characters who are fully explored and are therefore very believable. There was a bit of will-they-won’t-they, to which I internally groaned as I usually do if this kind of thing happens! Thankfully though, all that was resolved and we could get on with the real stuff e.g finding the killer!


A lot of the time it’s easy to guess how these kind of books will turn out, but in this case I had no clue and was really surprised.


The only problem with this book is that there really wasn’t a sense of tension throughout. At no point was I seriously on the edge of my seat. That being said, I’ve already started the second in the series (there are eight I think) and it’s very unusual for me to do that, so there’s something definitely going for this series; I think it’s safe to say that in my case that’s probably Carol and Tony.