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The Mermaids Singing by Val McDermid

The Mermaids Singing (1995)

by Val McDermid

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Tony Hill/Carol Jordan (1)

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1,459577,468 (3.79)100
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English (51)  German (2)  Swedish (2)  French (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (57)
Showing 1-5 of 51 (next | show all)
So many things annoyed me here! The leads are bland, there are a bunch of tedious torture scenes, the female journalist gets her tips by sleeping with sources, unpleasant stereotypes of gay men abound, and there's the horrid evil transperson trope.

McDermid makes a number of references to The Silence of the Lambs, which is really unfortunate because they only reminded me how much better Silence is. ( )
1 vote amanda4242 | Jun 16, 2018 |
Didn't love it, didn't hate it. Enjoyed it well enough, I suppose.

This series of books is the basis for the British television series Wire in the Blood. This book in particular is the basis for the first two episodes of the show. If you've seen the show, you know a bit about what to expect in the book. If you haven't seen the show, I will tell you upfront, the book is gory and graphic and has detailed descriptions of torture. It doesn't shy away from it's subject matter. At all. Being a horror movie fan, I have a pretty strong gut when it comes to things like that, but even I was like this D: several times. So be mindful of that if you're considering reading. Also, having been published in 1995, it's a product of its time, and is a bit dated in some of its terminology and some of the attitudes regarding gay and transgendered people. I expected it from the homophobic cop characters, but to hear it at times from "the good guys" was pretty disappointing. I knocked a star off for that and for the animal death, which thankfully was not as horrendous as I was expecting it to be when I first started that scene. Still, though...

It was definitely gripping, however, and I enjoyed seeing the differences between tv Tony and Carol and book Tony and Carol. I have to say that I definitely prefer the tv show. I have the second book in the series and will read it, but am unsure at this point if I will continue reading past that. ( )
1 vote stellar_raven | Jun 11, 2018 |
The Mermaids Singing
3.5 Stars

After the mutilated bodies of 4 men are discovered in Bradfield, the police are finally forced to admit that a serial killer is on the loose, and enlist the help of criminal psychologist Tony Hill. Haunted by demons of his own, Tony works with DI Carol Jordon to profile a killer who has just made Tony the latest target...


Disclaimer: This book is the first in a series which forms the basis for the BBC show Wire in the Blood. As a fan of the series, I was glad to see that the producers did an excellent job in re-creating 90% of McDermid's characters and plot. However, my overall reading experience may have been influenced by the fact that I knew all the twists and turns ahead of time.

That said, the plot of The Mermaids Singing is clever and well written. The events are told from multiple perspectives - Tony, Carol as well as the killer and others. Each of the characters, both primary and secondary, are intriguing and well-developed, and the revelation of the killer's identity and motivation is original and interesting. It is important to note that the book contains graphic descriptions of torture and mutilation so it is not for those who are turned off by blood and gore.

Personally, the only scene that had me almost jettisoning the book is the near torture of the German Shepherd, as I have absolutely no tolerance for animal abuse. Thankfully, the act itself does not occur so I could move forward (very pleased this was taken out of the show).

Tony is a compelling character, damaged and tortured in his own way, and trying to cope with his inner demons. He comes across as more eccentric in the series than in the book, an interpretation that I prefer. Carol is also a likeable character coping with the inevitable boys club in the police.

While the book is entertaining, I won't be continuing with the series as I've seen the TV show, and I know what is to come. Reading the book does make me want to watch the show again though. ( )
1 vote Lauren2013 | May 24, 2018 |
2.5 stars.

Definite weirdness. ( )
  natcontrary | May 21, 2018 |
A thrilling serial killer tale with good suspense that grew as it went along. Compelling characters, nothing superficial about them. Very good emotional and psychological depth. The police worked with a psychologist/profiler to create insight into the killer's mindset. I started this book a few times over about 3 years before I finally stuck with it. The problem for me was that the start of this book was not very engaging. We are presented with the killer's diary where he is on a vacation in Italy, visiting a torture museum. Nice background but not the most exciting start to a novel. Once I got past that, the plot started to unfold in a more engaging way. I have enjoyed many similar mystery/murder novels by British writers such as Aline Templeton, Ann Cleeves, Peter May and Peter James. Val McDermid is a new discovery for me but I'd rate her along with these authors as highly recommendable. I have started the second in this series and the opening again kind of drags but I will persist this time without putting it aside. ( )
  MitchMcCrimmon | Apr 27, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 51 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (17 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
McDermid, Valprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Allvee, MarekKujundaja.secondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cumming, AlanReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Roberts, GrahamNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me.

"The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock"

T.S. Eliot
The soul of torture is male.

Comment on exhibit card

The Museum of Criminology and Torture, San Gimignano, Italy.
For Tookie Flystock, my beloved serial insect killer.
First words
From 3 1/2" disc labelled: Backup.007; file Love.001

You always remember the first time.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Do not combine with the video TV series; different works.
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Information from the German Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English


Book description
You always remember the first time. Isn't that what they say about sex? How much more true it is of murder! Up till now, the only serial killers Tony Hill had encountered were safely behind bars. This one's different -- this one's on the loose. In the northern town of Bradfield four men have been found mutilated and tortured. Fear grips the city; no man feels safe. Clinical psychologist Tony Hill is brought in to profile the killer. A man with more than enough sexual problems of his own, Tony himself becomes the unsuspecting target in a battle of wits and wills where he has to use every ounce of his professional nerve to survive.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0312983603, Mass Market Paperback)

This sadistic, twisted yet intriguingly ingenious thriller garnered Val McDermid Britain's top crime-fiction award, the Gold Dagger, which only proves it's not as genteel a nation as we've been led to believe. The Mermaids Singing follows a killer who thrives on finding ever more inventive ways to seduce and torture sexually confused young men and records their death struggles digitally to market them as interactive home movies.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:38 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

When the fourth victim of a twisted serial killer is found, Detective Inspector Carol Jordan teams up with criminologist Tony Hill to develop a complicated criminal profile, the accuracy of which becomes pivotal to the case.

» see all 14 descriptions

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