The retribution

Val McDermid

Book - 2011

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Suspense fiction
New York : [Berkeley, Calif.] : Atlantic Monthly Press ; Distributed by Publishers Group West c2011.
Item Description
Originally published: London : Little, Brown, 2011.
Physical Description
402 p. ; 24 cm
Main Author
Val McDermid (-)
Review by New York Times Review

What really matters in a Sara Paretsky mystery are the crimes behind the crimes - the corrupt politics, the class divisions, the economic inequities, the dirty business practices and all the other injustices that incite the wicked deeds we love to read about. BREAKDOWN (Putnam, $26.95) takes its first crack at a soft target: a cult series of lurid vampire novels that sends a group of impressionable preteenage girls into a graveyard to perform a giddy initiation ritual for their book club. But once V. I. Warshawski, the intrepid private eye who sees herself as "a street fighter, a product of the mills and ethnic wars of Chicago's Steel City," has rescued the girls from the trauma of discovering a murder victim, the true villains come into sharper focus. A right-wing news operation called the Global Entertainment Network seizes on the fact that two of the girls are related to left-wingers on its hit list. One is the daughter of a liberal university president who blocked the teaching of creationism in biology classes. The other is the granddaughter of the Jewish billionaire financing that same university president's campaign for a seat in the United States Senate. The network unleashes its most rabid attack dog, a faux-populist journalist named Wade Lawlor, to lead the assault, which extends to the private foundation funded by the grandfather to lend a hand to immigrants and refugees, and to encourage their children by establishing book clubs for little girls with a passion for reading. No one would call Paretsky a nuanced writer, and there are times when she sounds as shrill as Lawlor, whose televised rants against illegal aliens leave him with "spit flecking his lips." But her cause is righteous, and she certainly knows her enemy. In packaging its brutal politics as blood-sport entertainment, the network manages "to dirty up the news until the viewer can't tell truth from fiction." That's an offense that especially riles Paretsky's crusading sleuth, because the media giant bought and smashed a venerable newspaper that was once the pride of Chicago. A visit to a friend at the paper's gutted news division makes her remember their youthful vows to clean up the city. "Instead, fraud had spread along every corridor of American life and had infected the newsroom." And that crime-behind-the-crime really makes her fighting mad. Can't get enough of Chicago? The most dynamic character in Charlie Newton's fierce first novel, "Calumet City," and its terrific sequel, START SHOOTING (Doubleday, $25.95), is the Windy City - the down and dirty side of it, anyway. The narration alternates between a cop named Bobby Vargas, and Arleen Brennan, whose twin sister was raped and murdered back when they were all just 13. Now Bobby and his homicide detective brother, Ruben ("a fine doorway full of man"), are policing a gang war involving the Latin Kings, and Arleen is caught in the cross-fire. "The big gangs in the ghetto districts outnumber us 12 to 1 and have better guns," according to Bobby. "What's that say about America?" The plot is a hot mess, with Newton fielding multiple story lines, dual time frames and too many conspiracies. But the voices reverberate in your ears, and the smell of gunfire lingers long after the last man is down. There's both a pattern and a purpose to the superb historical mysteries produced by the mother-and-son writing partners known as Charles Todd. Like THE CONFESSION (Morrow/HarperCollins, $25.99), the novels in their evocative Ian Rutledge series, set in the aftermath of World War I. always begin with a murder that sends him from Scotland Yard to some distant shire to be viewed with suspicion by the insular natives. But the hostile reception doesn't distress the detective, who was shellshocked at the Somme and takes no joy in the hurly-burly of community life. To complete the plot blueprint, the villagers are often safeguarding a collective secret, and the resolution of the mystery rarely restores peace. "The Confession" tweaks that plot template by introducing the murder victim while he still has breath, presenting himself at Scotland Yard and confessing to the murder of his cousin. But when the man's body washes up in the Thames, Rutledge undertakes another one of his solitary journeys, this time to a village in Essex whose ragged coastline "isolated the inhabitants in a world little changed with the passage of time." But the war put an end to that isolation, giving Rutledge another chance to bear witness to ruined lives and broken traditions, and to serve as chief mourner for all that has been lost. It's no big deal for an author to return to a beloved sleuth - but a beloved serial killer? That's the trick Val McDermid pulls off in THE RETRIBUTION (Atlantic Monthly, $25) when she revives Jacko Vance, the "charismatic, handsome, charming" and quite loco TV star who in his heyday murdered 17 teenage girls and was locked up in a maximum-security prison at the conclusion of an earlier thriller, "The Wire in the Blood." The series's sleuths, Dr. Tony Hill, a clinical psychologist, and Carol Jordan, a police officer, are already occupied with the hunt for a sadistic killer who is going after street prostitutes. But when they get word that their old nemesis has escaped from prison, they know they're prime targets for payback. Hill and Jordan are two very bright detectives, but you still want to toss them under the bus when Jacko, who is every bit as charming as he thinks he is, flashes his come-hither smile. V.I. Warshawski sees herself as a street fighter, 'a product of the mills and ethnic wars' of Chicago.

Copyright (c) The New York Times Company [January 8, 2012] Review by Booklist Review

The villain in the seventh thriller in the Tony Hill series, which pairs British clinical psychologist Hill, a brilliant criminal profiler, and his long-term work partner and sometimes lover, Detective Chief Inspector Carol Jordan, is like a slowly growing tsunami that finally spends its fury on the inhabitants of the shore. Villain Jacko Vance, a sociopath who once had his own TV chat show before his breathtakingly cruel string of crimes were discovered and stopped by a jail sentence, has escaped prison. He's out to wreak vengeance on the world and especially on the people who put him away, Hill and Jordan. As usual, McDermid shifts point-of-view deftly, moving from Jacko's plans for escape and then retribution to Hill's and Carol's thoughts on how to outwit and outrun him. This novel includes almost no physical description. It's hard to actually see any of McDermid's characters or settings. For those who like script-like prose with shock after shock, however, McDermid is perfect.--Fletcher, Connie Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission. Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

The return of serial killer Jacko Vance drives McDermid's superb seventh novel featuring Dr. Tony Hill and Det. Chief Insp. Carol Jordan of the Bradfield police (after 2010's Fever of the Bone). Vance, the charming TV talk show host responsible for murdering 17 teenage girls in 1997's The Wire in the Blood, manages to escape from prison just as Carol and her team are on the brink of disbanding at the behest of a new chief superintendent. Carol is also leading the murder investigation of several sex workers, each tattooed with the word mine, but it's the hunt for Jacko that consumes her and Tony, knowing that he'll likely direct his pentup anger at the people who helped put him away. Soon Carol's team is working both cases and both killers are upping the ante (and the body count). The emotional wedge that the sadistic Jacko is able to drive between Tony and Carol makes this one of McDermid's strongest efforts. 5-city author tour. Agent: Jane Gregory. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved Review by Library Journal Review

Incarcerated serial killer Jacko Vance has been planning the perfect escape for 15 years. But his escape is only the beginning-Vance has plotted a violent trajectory of revenge against everyone he believes helped to convict and imprison him. DCI Carol Jordan and criminal profiler Tony Hill top his list, but can they stop him before it's too late for them and nearly everyone they know and love? Verdict McDermid's seventh series novel (after Fever of the Bone) raises the stakes by positioning her duo against both death and the demise of their personal and professional relationship. A gruesomely enjoyable yarn for McDermid fans and mystery thriller lovers. [Five-city tour; see Prepub Alert, 7/10/11.]-Jennifer Rogers, J. Sargeant Reynolds Community Coll. Lib., Richmond (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.