Review by Booklist Review
McDermid's exciting, rapid-fire whodunit is set in the fictional Midlands city of Bradfield, where a serial killer is at large whose signature is the sexual torture of male victims. Stymied, the constables bring in Tony Hill, constructor of psychological profiles, a move resented by a crusty investigator who, jealous of Hill as an overeducated outsider, barges ahead with his own gumshoe method, posting undercover police in Bradfield's gay bars. This indeed produces a suspect, but Hill, in alliance and in dalliance with investigator Carol Jordan, is unpersuaded: his profile of a computer-literate stalker doesn't match the suspect. Meanwhile, at the interstices of the conflict between Hill/Jordan and the curmudgeonly policeman, the author inserts the killer's sadistic chronicle of the crimes, which forces readers to reevaluate possible candidates. This involving method cranks up a high-velocity, high-tension ending involving the stalker's next intended victim--Tony Hill--whose proclivity for phone sex has landed him in deep trouble. A satisfying descent into the territory of a twisted mind. --Gilbert Taylor
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
McDermid (A Clean Break) enters new ground with a dark tale that is more complex, more carefully crafted and far more disturbing than her Kate Brannigan mysteries. By the time the police admit that Bradfield, a fictional city in northern England, has a serial killer, four men are already dead, each tortured in a different way and then abandoned outdoors in town. Baffled by a lack of physical evidence left by the meticulous sociopath, police bring in Tony Hill, a Home Office forensic psychologist who profiles criminals. Tony, who begins each day by ``selecting a persona,'' devours crime data with a fascination approaching admiration for the killer. The interest distracts him from obsessing over his own sexual impotence and over the ``exquisite torture'' of salacious phone calls he's been getting from a strange woman. DI Carol Jordan, a mercifully normal person who is Tony's liaison with the force, quickly grasps the profiling approach while keeping her policing instincts. Carol and Tony forge an uneasy relationship; but, as they pursue ``the Queer Killer,'' a cloddish policeman undermines them, a local reporter blows the case to get a byline and the murderer closes in on a new quarry. A warning: woven into this powerful story are journal entries in which the murder discusses torture in loving detail, an aspect that makes this graphic, psychologically terrifying tale almost as off-putting as it is impossible to put down. (Dec.) FYI: This novel won Britain's Gold Dagger Award for best crime novel of 1995. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review
First published in Great Britain in 1995, this title marks a clean break from McDermid's Kate Brannigan/Lindsay Gordon series. Here, criminologist Dr. Tony Hill and Detective Inspector Carol Jordan search for an arrogant serial killer who tortures his victims and leaves no clues. A safe bet. (c) Copyright 2010. 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.
Review by Kirkus Book Review
Nothing in McDermid's wisecracking books about Manchester p.i. Kate Brannigan (Clean Break, 1995, etc.) could have prepared you for this taut study of Handy Andy, the name that psychological profiler Tony Hill has adopted to humanize the faceless S/M connoisseur the Bradfield coppers call the Queer Killer. Tony, who's treating his own sexual hangups by not hanging up on an importunate caller looking for phone sex, is hauled aboard the stalled investigation when bigoted Supt. Tom Cross won't admit the possibility that the three torture-murders are the work of a single hand. In short order Hill and Inspector Carol Jordan have a fourth crime to work with--the mutilated body of a local constable--but it doesn't help; Andy is too savvy, and now too practiced, to leave any traces at the scene. As Andy recounts the details of each murder to a celebratory tape recorder, Cross stumbles badly, planting evidence on a gym manager who bragged about knowing all four victims, beating and arresting him when he tries to flee the country, and abandoning him in his holding cell to a nightmare of justice gone wrong . Even with Cross on suspension, the case still has room for the mole who's leaking info to his lover on the Sentinel Times and for the copycat killer determined to piggyback on the notoriety of Handy Andy, who's planning a last coup against Hill himself. The grim details make this one not for everybody--but if serial killers are your meat, you'll see why McDermid won this year's Gold Dagger from Britain's Crime Writers Association.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.