How the Dead Speak (Tony Hill and Carol Jordan #11), by Val McDermid

Eight stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Val McDermid, and Grove Atlantic for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

Always a fan of Val McDermid’s work, I was pleased to be able to read this eleventh novel in the Tony Hill-Carol Jordan series, which packs a punch and keeps the reader on their toes. After the fallout of a previous case, Tony Hill finds himself behind bars for manslaughter. That may seem a hindrance, but Hill is doing all he can to work with his fellow inmates to help make their lives easier, while ensuring protection of his own. On the outside, Carol Hill has retired from active police duty as she pieces things together. When Carol is approached by a local Innocence Project and asked to help consult on a case, her curiosity is piqued. A number of male prostitutes have gone missing over a span of time, but their bodies have never turned up. Presumed murdered, the prosecution turned their eyes on one man as the killer. Convicted by a majority of his jury, he now sits in jail, though professes his innocence. Carol Jordan uses her long history as a cop to explore the case in hopes of finding a trail left to go cold. At the same time, Carol Jordan’s former Regional Major Incident Team (REMIT) has been called to investigate an odd crime of their own. While razing the land of a former convent and girls’ school, a number of children’s bodies are found buried in the garden. All eyes turn to those who run the school, which appears to have been anything but a lovely educational establishment when it was open. The REMIT begins their investigation and seeks to find something on which they can build a case. While the nuns, groundskeepers, and local priest are anything but forthcoming, there is something that does not add up. When a second set of bodies turns up, things take an interesting turn and the investigation gathers momentum. Who left these bodies and what is the gruesome story behind it all? Another winner in the Hill-Jordan series, which will appeal to those who have enjoyed the previous novels, particularly McDermid’s cliffhanger ending. Recommended to those who like a police procedural with a few twists tossed in.

While I know this series has divided fans over the years, I find myself in the group that loves them. There have been actions taken by Val McDermid hat may leave some scratching their heads, but the meatier parts of the story come out and keep the reader curious, if not completely enthralled. The Tony Hill/Carol Jordan storylines are secondary in this piece, though there is some great character development, however minor at times. It is the characters who normally serve a secondary role that come to the forefront here, weaving together an impactful mystery that needs solving. The premise is strong, though the cliché of the Catholic Church left me rolling my eyes just a bit. Still, there is quite the mystery and two cases soon find a common thread, which ties things together nicely. McDermid does well to write her parallel plots effectively and keeps the reader wondering when the other shoe may drop. I cannot say that it was the most stellar writing, but the narrative offered up strong themes and kept me wondering until the very end. With a mix of short and longer chapters, the reader can sometimes be enticed to read a little more, then locked into the investigation for more detailed aspects. I am eager to see where things go with this series, particularly with how things ended, a tantalizing cliffhanger of sorts.

Kudos, Madam McDermid, for another wonderful novel in the series. I can only hope you have more ideas brewing, as they always keep me guessing.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: