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by Val McDermid
Minotaur, October 2002
422 pages
ISBN: 0312266154

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Dr. Fiona Campbell, psychologist and profiler, periodically goes for a solitary hike on the moorlands above Sheffield to ruminate on her life. While returning to London, she gets a message from the Spanish police asking her to consult about a pair of brutal murders in Toledo. She arrives back in London to the home she shares with thriller writer Kit Martin, in time for the evening news, Several months before, a young mother had been mutilated and murdered on Hampstead Heath, but Fiona's advice on handling the case was ignored by the Met and another profiler used. The case is thrown out of court, and Kit and Fiona's friend, Detective Superintendent Steve Preston, is shattered.

Fiona and Kit go to Toledo. While Fiona is studying the cases, Kit is wandering through the city, musing on the ironies of Toledo, the home of both El Greco and Torquemada. Unlike the less than rigorous methods of the television Profile, Dr. Campbell has developed a powerful computer program, which is a mixture of psychological profiling plus crime linkage and geographical profiling. She feeds the data into her computer and comes up with some clues for the Spanish police.

Drew Shand, an ex-teacher gay thriller writer is murdered in Edinburgh. The police decide that it's just another gay S and M killing and show minimal interest in looking further, even though his death mimics that depicted in the best selling novel. When another thriller writer is murdered, and a third disappears, Fiona tries to get the police to realize that these are linked, but they aren't really interested.

I avoided reading this one for a long time because I thought I couldn't take another serial killer book, but I didn't take McDermid's skill into account. She has written a gripping thriller with several discrete cases all benefitting from Campbell's brand of scientific analysis, with the added advantage of McDermid's ability to write sympathetic characters.

This is a review of the UK paperback edition. 576 pages new edition (8 May, 2001)

HarperCollins; ISBN: 0006514189

Reviewed by Barbara Franchi, February 2002

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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