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The Retribution by Val McDermid

The Retribution (2011)

by Val McDermid

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The Retribution is a suspenseful, gripping thriller. The serial killer Jacko Vance was one scary villain. His ruthlessness, his methodical approach to his vengeance, and how well he knew those he sought to take vengeance on came together to create a truly scary killer.

However, there were a lot of characters minor characters I found easily blended together. Or rather, they didn't distinguish themselves from each other much. They were generally one of the crime investigation team members. Occasionally, the author would try to hint who the killer was after by describing them or where he was, but I couldn't tell by the description who they were talking about. I'm not sure if this was because it took me a while to read (only because of time constraints and not because of the book) or because of a lack of connection with the characters.

The other thing that bothered me was the tendency of the author to head-hop. Sometimes it would only happen at the very end of the scene. Other times, the narration would slip into another character's head midway through, then return to the original character's point of view. Head-hopping never fails to be annoying and confusing.

With those two problems, this potential four-star story dropped down to a three-star. And yet, it left me wanting to know more about the main characters. And if the author can create such a suspenseful story and gripping villain, I'd read others in this series. ( )
  monica67 | Aug 19, 2014 |
Have you ever found yourself reading a book that you thought was only "OK" just so you could the resolution and then been so disappointed in the ending it soured the whole experience? This book is one of those experiences. Between some of the completely forgettable secondary characters, over reactionary hostility of one the primary ones, poorly written villain (making a return engagement to the series, no less), and a horribly underwritten ending, I can not recommend this book. It reads like in the last quarter of the book even the author got tired of the story and just decided to wrap it up. It's that flat. As a newcomer to the series, I can only hope the prior entries were better. ( )
  zumanity | Apr 30, 2013 |
Came to this after having read two or three in the series and been not so impressed by the last I'd read (not necessarily in sequence which may not help). I galloped through this and enjoyed the ride. ( )
  Roobee1 | Apr 25, 2013 |
"Fresh Meat" by Victoria Janssen for Criminal Element.

Though The Retribution is seventh in Val McDermid’s series about profiler Tony Hill and police office Carol Jordan, I am here to say that you do not need to have read the books in order to enjoy the book. I read my first McDermid novel, The Last Temptation, only a few months ago, and then (temporarily!) skipped over the rest when I received this one for review. Longtime readers may have additional rewards, but even if this is your first novel in this series, I don’t think it will matter all that much in terms of following the story, or in being swept away by it. In fact, I think this particular novel would be a great place to start, as its villain harks back to an earlier book, The Wire in the Blood (which will definitely be the next McDermid novel I read).

(Read the rest at http://www.criminalelement.com/blogs/2011/12/fresh-meat-val-mcdermid-the-retribu... )
  CrimeHQ | Apr 11, 2013 |
I discovered Val McDermid back in the early 1990s when the first of her Kate Branigan series, [b:Dead Beat|146068|Dead Beat (Kate Brannigan, #1)|Val McDermid|http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41XWR67QGPL._SL75_.jpg|3058520] was published. I've been a fan of her work ever since and have always looked forward to reading her next book. This is the seventh book in the Tony Hill / Carol Jordan series, the first of which, [b:The Mermaids Singing|459386|The Mermaids Singing |Val McDermid|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1311990346s/459386.jpg|88269], was published in 1995.

The fact that this is only the seventh book in the series demonstrates that McDermid doesn't churn them out, factory-fashion. In recent years she has interspersed the books in the series with stand-alone thrillers that have generally been high quality reads. Most of the novels in the series have also been well-written and gripping thrillers. So it was disappointing to read the latest installment and feel distinctly underwhelmed, all the more so because I expected to enjoy it very much.

In essence, this is the story of the escape from prison of serial killer, Jacko Vance, in whose capture and imprisonment forensic psychologist and profiler Tony Hill and police officer Carol Jordan were instrumental in the second novel in the series, [b:The Wire In The Blood|91480|The Wire In The Blood |Val McDermid|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1311976651s/91480.jpg|1855646]. Vance plans to leave England, but not before he takes vengeance on those responsible for his incarceration. Added to the main narrative is that of another serial killer, who is killing prostitutes in particularly gruesome ways.

The novel starts with Vance’s escape from prison, an incident of breath-taking implausibility. There’s nothing startling about implausibility in crime fiction. Indeed, if readers can’t cope with implausible, then they probably should be reading a different type of fiction. But for me, this particular prison escape strained credulity so much that I had difficulty accepting the details of Vance’s subsequent revenge spree with anything approaching suspension of disbelief. In addition, the secondary serial killer story felt tacked on and irrelevant and the resolution of both strands of the narrative seemed rushed and unsatisfying. Overall, I felt let down by the plot. It promised much and delivered little.

What kept me reading was the characters. McDermid is very good at creating characters readers can care about. Her central protagonists, Tony Hill and Carol Jordan, are flawed but compelling. The secondary characters are also very well drawn. McDermid has allowed her characters to grow and change throughout the series, which adds interest to the novels. As a reader I genuinely want to know where she will take them.

I’m worried about my reaction to this particular instalment in the series. I have often stopped reading a series because I’ve become bored and stopped caring what happens next. With this series, I still care about the characters. However, my tolerance for far-fetched serial killer stories has decreased over time. That doesn’t bode well for my future enjoyment of Val McDermid’s novels. But I’ve spent almost twenty years reading and (mostly) enjoying her work and I want to keep on liking her books. So I’ll keep reading them for a while yet, in the hope - in the fervent hope - that my disappointment with this novel is just a glitch.

This is a 3 star read because McDermid writes good prose and creates great characters. Otherwise it would be closer to 2-1/2 stars. If I were a teacher and this were a school report, I’d be writing “Could do better”.
( )
  KimMR | Apr 2, 2013 |
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Jacko Vance is an ex-celebrity and sociopath whose brilliance and utter lack of remorse have never left Tony's mind in the ten years since his imprisonment. Now Jacko has escaped from prison, and he is focused on wreaking revenge on Tony and Carol for his years spent in prison.… (more)

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