McDermid captures the essence of literary crime fiction in Beneath the Bleeding. The mysterious, lingering demise of a healthy sports figure is but the beginning of a drama that includes a series of suspicious deaths, a possible terrorist act, the inner workings of Detective Chief Inspector Carol Jordan's Major Incidents Team and the profiling of Dr. Tony Hill, a psychologist. That there is a certain personal tension between Jordan and Hill only adds to the sophistication of the plot. In any case, the English love their football; when Robbie Bishop is felled and succumbs days later, scrutiny turns immediately to an early resolution in the face of heightened public interest.
Meanwhile, at Bradfield Moor Secure Hospital, a crafty inmate avoids his meds, veering into a religious-inspired rampage, chasing Dr. Hill with an axe. The result is a sidelined profiler who spends the majority of the Bishop case in serious pain, his work ethic driving Dr. Hill from a morphine fugue to active participation in a very unusual investigation. McDermid combines an outrageous series of crimes in a contemporary environment- a poisoning, suspicious activities and a random act of violence- the combination causing the now-predictable outcry of terrorism. As the Counter Terrorism Command rolls into action, taking over DCI Jordan's department, the nuances of the cases are lost in the fury.