Brutal and delicious...

The Mermaids Singing - Val McDermid

I hate SERIAL KILLERs. I don’t like them. I can tolerate every kind of killers, but serial killers never sit well with me. Because when a novel is based on a serial killer and his/her antics the book develops a tendency of introducing a suspect in the last chapters and then promptly setting the clues right, and declaring that person as the culprit. Most of the serial killer novels follow this very unimaginative pattern, and most of these novels, since they involve the police, Private Investigators hardly gets the opportunity to feature in a serial killer hunt, gets crammed with uninteresting inter-departmental chatter and even more boring internal politics. Invariably the lead detective would be a broken man who would not shave and would not listen to his boss, and by a stroke of luck would uncover the criminal. I hate Serial killers and the novels which have them as antagonist.


Val McDermid with her book, THE MERMAID’s SINGING changed that, at least for once. This book had every reason for me to be a wary of it. It had long paragraphs, it had crime fighter duo of Tony Hill (male) and Carol Jordan (female) thereby running every risk of an on-the-job boring romance, and it had a serial killer. And the book was well praised, and well praised books more than often run the risk of being a let-down. The only bright side was the writer Val McDermid. She was known for her thrillers, which were extremely good, and though I had read only another book of her in an abridged version, but I had my faith in her. And she didn’t disappoint.


People with soft heart stay away from this book. This book is brutal and gory without being the obvious in-your-face kind of gory associated with the Nordic Crime fiction. Here the brutality is much more left to the imagination. Scenes are depicted where the culprit visits a museum dedicated to mediaeval torture, then the culprit kidnaps the victims, and then the mutilated bodies of the victims are discovered. The horror of the torture is left for the readers to imagine and squirm while doing so. Nothing more potent than this tact of making the reader gets the feel of the novel. And even the plot had the culprit from the very start, only in a way that the person is well concealed beneath the paperwork.  And the police politics though present is mercifully short and never affects the pace of the book.


A definite must read for any crime fiction reader. This one though a bit slow is worth the every minute spent on it.