Insidious Intent by Val McDermid

Insidious Intent

Widely recognized as one of our finest crime writers, with numerous accolades and legions of devoted readers worldwide, internationally bestselling author Val McDermid is back with the latest installment in her series featuring psychologist Tony Hill and former police detective Carol Jordan. In Insidious Intent, Tony and Carol are on the hunt for a serial killer who victim...

Title:Insidious Intent
Author:
Rating:
ISBN:0802127169
Edition Language:English
Number of Pages:400 pages

Insidious Intent Reviews

  • Liz Barnsley

    It’s that time of year again when there’s a new Val McDermid book out in the world and last Thursday saw me actually rousing myself from my book cave and heading down to my local independent bookshop, where I waited impatiently for them to open so I could lay my hands on a copy. Which I did. Then I read it almost immediately because well, its Val McDermid. Even more than that it features Carol Jordan and Tony Hill – two characters that are so real to me now that I wouldn’t be at all surprised to

    It’s that time of year again when there’s a new Val McDermid book out in the world and last Thursday saw me actually rousing myself from my book cave and heading down to my local independent bookshop, where I waited impatiently for them to open so I could lay my hands on a copy. Which I did. Then I read it almost immediately because well, its Val McDermid. Even more than that it features Carol Jordan and Tony Hill – two characters that are so real to me now that I wouldn’t be at all surprised to turn on BBC News one day and actually see Carol Jordan giving an interview about her latest collar.

    Before I talk Insidious Intent, I’m fairly sure there can’t be THAT many lovers of crime fiction out there that have not at least dipped into this series – but just in case I catch one of you reading this may I highly recommend that you read in order and take a few weeks off work. For me, absolutely one of the best series out there, even though we are now on book 10 each one offers something new, be it in the horrifying realities of the dark depths of human nature, a particular personal crisis for one of our beloved characters, a freshly observed moral dilemma or twist on a mystery that is inordinately difficult to predict.

    So Insidious Intent then finds Carol, Tony and the rest with their first case for the newly formed Remit – a major incident team headed by Carol and featuring her hand picked people. New characters and old friends form the unit, but they soon realise that having the spotlight on them, especially when faced with a difficult case and an intelligent killer, can bring its own pitfalls. Not everyone wants them to succeed – indeed in the aftermath of events from previous novels a fair few would like to see them fall flat on their asses – with Carol still facing down her demons and Tony struggling to continue to prop her up, the scene is set for a right page turner. And a right page turner it was.

    Mixing things up with her indomitably twisted (in a creative way obviously) spirit, Val McDermid gives us less of a “whodunnit” and more of a “How the hell are they going to catch him” – we get snippets of the killer’s planning and motivation and from there see how our team are doing.We also have Paula and a parenting problem, my very favourite character outside of Carol and Tony (that would be Stacy Chen) doing lots of fascinating technical stuff and a sharp learning curve for the relationship between our main pair.

    One thing I love about this series is the truly authentic sense that is brought to the procedural elements. It is never one thing that solves the case but more a myriad of things and often pure chance – in Insidious Intent it is going to take the talent of every single investigator to get them even within miles. So the story plays out, whilst at the heart of it a moral dilemma for our dynamic duo, in conjunction with a killer of a character (literally and figuratively), builds and builds to a crescendo of a resolution, one that had me genuinely with several paper cuts as I flung page after page over to find out if they would get him. Will they? Well you know what you have to do….

    It is the personal touch that makes these books work so well – you feel like you are reading about real people, over the years Val McDermid has created a family. They are the readers family as much as they are hers and each others – therefore now, and for a few books before it at least, you feel every jolt, you devour every heart stopping moment, you live and die with what is happening now in the chapter you are reading. It is clever, involving, brilliantly emotional writing that also encompasses a lot of thought provoking real life issues – in Insidious Intent yes, but also in every novel written, even those not featuring Carol and Tony – so you are entertained, challenged in your thinking and ultimately hugely satisfied if not a little wrung out. Definitely a little wrung out.

    Insidious Intent well, it is just all the brilliant. All the brilliant. I don’t think there’s anything else I can say.

    Well, except I’m never eating a sourdough loaf again without taking huge precautionary measures…

    What? Well you know what you need to do…

    Pure Class.

    Highly Recommended.

  • Christine

    After a massive wait, we finally have a new Hill and Jordan story. Thank you, Val McDermid! Insidious Intent is the tenth in this northern crime series, following on from Splinter The Silence (2015).

    This is not a series, you can just randomly pick up. We see real character and long term plot development. You learn to love them. Carol Jordan has been through the mill. She turned to drink to cope with the Job and with life. She lost her brother and sister in law to a killer. Her borderline will th

    After a massive wait, we finally have a new Hill and Jordan story. Thank you, Val McDermid! Insidious Intent is the tenth in this northern crime series, following on from Splinter The Silence (2015).

    This is not a series, you can just randomly pick up. We see real character and long term plot development. You learn to love them. Carol Jordan has been through the mill. She turned to drink to cope with the Job and with life. She lost her brother and sister in law to a killer. Her borderline will they won't they relationship with Hill has brought her back from the brink. Thankfully McDermid returns Carol back into the policing fold, with her lovely set of close work colleagues. Yes we have them all back; Stacey and Paula included. Tony Hill, profiler and much mixed up bloke, is now living with Carol. Hill is happily sharing the same space as Carol and taking care of her. This is a relationship, of a sort. Without the exchange of bodily fluids.

    Carol is back in charge running ReMIT, a regional Major Incident Team. The body of a woman is found in a burnt out car, in the middle of no-where Yorkshire. This is the first case for Carol's new squad. They look into the death of Kathryn McCormick. There are few clues, apart from the fact that Kathryn was murdered. It seems impossible. How did Kathryn, a very average office manager, fall into the clutches of a forensically aware killer? It is only when a Leeds woman is discovered in similar circumstances that things start to move on the case.

    Insidious Intent reminded me a little of Love You Dead (2016) by Peter James. Both do a great deal for the wedding and marriage industry. Anyway that was my first thought. McDermid's killer is one who is seeking revenge, by proxy. He cannot trace the woman he really wants to kill. This has left him furious, with deadly intent. I rather like him. He is clever. He is confident.

    This case is one of those that you know the real police probably have all the time. The seemingly impossible one. Luck is not on their side. They just need a break. The killer needs to make one mistake. One tiny error to put him into the path of Carol, Tony and the gang. As a reader, you are on tenterhooks waiting for this to happen...

    Insidious Intent was truly excellent. Val McDermid never disappoints. Recommended.

  • Rachel Hall

    3.5 stars

    After the storming return of DCI Carol Jordan and clinical psychologist, Dr Tony Hill, in the sensational Splinter the Silence which set about establishing a Regional Murder Investigation Team, despite a successful apprehension, Val McDermid left readers floundering with a heck of a lot of balls up in the air. The long awaited result is Insidious Intent and McDermid has nailed the title for another slick and satisfying instalment which craftily gets under readers skins. Before you know

    3.5 stars

    After the storming return of DCI Carol Jordan and clinical psychologist, Dr Tony Hill, in the sensational Splinter the Silence which set about establishing a Regional Murder Investigation Team, despite a successful apprehension, Val McDermid left readers floundering with a heck of a lot of balls up in the air. The long awaited result is Insidious Intent and McDermid has nailed the title for another slick and satisfying instalment which craftily gets under readers skins. Before you know it you’ve surreptitiously careened through the lion’s share of the novel and are into a very tense home stretch. Quality is never an issue with McDermid, an author who is equally adept at understanding a characters motivations as making complex forensic angles accessible to a layman. Her prose delivers more snap, crackle and decidedly more pop than average authors, even on a bad day, and her returning characters have earned a place in readers hearts. But Val McDermid can turn out a decent police procedural in her sleep and readers tend to expect something more from her novels. My disappointment with Insidious Intent is that McDermid doesn’t give her readers anymore than is required and in many ways, this tenth instalment does not make any significant progress from the territory covered in the ninth.

    In Splinter the Silence the route to establishing a Regional Murder Investigation Team (ReMIT) was fraught with tensions, from the detractors taking potshots at DCI Carol Jordan and her handpicked team of the “best of the best”. Those passed over for selection and the regional forces losing out on the cases that define careers are none too keen to make things any easier for the crack team, in fact the vast majority would love to see DCI Jordan fall flat on her face. Opponents, mud slingers and the gutter press all stand in the way in Insidious Intent and it irks somewhat as this was McDermid’s very angle in Splinter the Silence and it gets tiresome seeing the team continually failing to convince each other that they can withstand the heat, and Dr Tony Hill engaged in a concerted effort to buoy Carol’s failing spirits without the crutch of alcohol.

    ReMIT do not do things by the book; they are unorthodox and hence open to criticism, but pitted against the cream of the villainous crop of predators it never seemed likely that their job would be plain sailing. The discovery of a burning car reported in a lay-by at a remote location complete with a female passenger in the front seat might not be expected to fall under the auspices of ReMIT, but when it is discovered that the victim was already dead prior to the fire starting it becomes a very different matter. What remains of an incinerated corpse is eventually identified as Kathryn McCormick, a dull as they come office manager who is fondly remembered even by those she has sacked. Eventual inroads are made when the team realise she has fallen prey to a man who appears to be a wedding crasher, not an invited guest, and swiftly fallen for his patter and easy charm. With a fake first name and burner phone number, the basic checks fail to uncover anything of significance and with forensics a non-starter due to the water and foam of the fire brigade, the team can do little more than watch and wait.. A similar incident happens just three weeks later, again with the victim having met an unidentified wedding crasher, but it becomes clear that the team are up against a perpetrator who has trawled the internet and done a fine job in covering his tracks. As the team feel powerless and DCI Carol Jordan allows the guilt of more deaths to eat away at her conscience, the tension and angst within the office is palpable. However, with more murders and repeat incidents, Dr Tony Hill is joining the dots and pinning down the motivation behind a shrewd predator out for evil revenge.

    McDermid ticks all the boxes, her narrative is punchy with a clever line in dark humour, her longstanding characters feel like friends, but Insidious Intent never gets above first gear. A few moments of great forensic details whet the appetite (burning corpses in cars with sunroofs) and some clever (albeit, appearing randomly plucked) insights from the brilliant and newly resplendent purple anorak wearer, Dr Tony Hill, offer possibilities. Eventually the team close in on the theory of the victims as a representation (surrogate or cipher) of the real person that the killer wants to wreak his revenge on, the team starts to spot patterns. Despite my affection for the ‘human computer’ that is DC Stacey Chen, I think McDermid relies too heavily on her dark arts and back door entry to others systems, especially when at one point she professes to loathe those who abuse online systems. Likewise, for all their commitments to delivering justice, it cannot be ignored that this is a team who break more rules than they obey! New boy, DC Karim Hussain, is ludicrously green and brings nothing to the party, except for asking irritating questions which allow McDermid to give her new readers a swift rejoinder in police procedural basics. Sadly, DCI Carol Jordan also seemed below par and much of the leg work seemed to pass over her head. Without a doubt, apart from Tony, the female personalities within ReMIT are eminently more interesting and well explored than their male counterparts, from DS Paula McIntyre attempting to head off a sexting scandal of her and partner, Elinor’s, fourteen-year-old ward, Torin McAndrew and DC Stacey Chen playing fast and loose with her ex boyfriends digital footprint. McDermid’s humour is never lacking and Stacey’s improvisation and star turn as DC Xing Ming of the Anti Terrorism Unit proves inspired.

    As the clock ticks down on Carol Jordan’s career and with the bulk of the evidence largely circumstantial, well, hold onto your hats for the finale!

    The ending, which I did start to anticipate inside the last fifty-pages at the very least mixes things up and gives McDermid a fresh challenge, but sadly it left me unconvinced. However, if there is anyone who can deliver such a sensational shock and pull it off, it is definitely Val McDermid. A different direction, a new challenge, and as much as I love Paula, Stacey and Tony, Carol needs to man up and prove her skills beyond doubt in the next instalment. Prepare for battle as DCI Carol Jordan and her ReMIT bandwagon rolls on.

    In summary, Insidious Intent, is another assured police procedural and it is hard to pick holes in a case that sees the team engaged in a first major inquiry and pitted against such a forensically aware and well prepared perpetrator, but this novel doesn’t bring anything new to the arena. DCI Carol Jordan wallows and her team largely plough on devoid of her inspiration and impetus, but I was disappointed with the extraordinary denouement. Having said all that I will still be at the door queuing for a follow-up! Val McDermid is never less than gloriously readable, inventive and remarkably witty, and Insidious Intent is a highly satisfying read.


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