Review: The Retribution by Val McDermid

Title: The Retribution {Carol Jordan & Tony Hill #7}

Author: Val McDermid

Published: Grove/Atlantic Jan 2012

Synopsis: Clinical psychologist Tony Hill has had a good run. He and police detective Carol Jordan have put away scores of dangerous criminals and have a clearance rate that colleagues envy or resent. But there is one serial killer who has shaped and defined their careers, a person whose evil surpasses all others: Jacko Vance, an ex-celebrity and sociopath whose brilliance and utter lack of remorse have never left Tony’s mind in the ten years Vance has been locked up. Now Jacko has broken out of prison and, with a mind even more twisted and cunning than before, he is focused on wreaking revenge on Tony and Carol for the years he has spent in prison. They don’t know when Jacko will strike, or where. All they know is that he will cause them to feel fear like they’ve never known.

Status: Read from January 02 to 03, 2012 — I own a copy {Courtesy Atlantic Grove/Netgalley}

My Thoughts:

I’ve read more of Val McDermids Kate Brannigan series than this series featuring Tony Hill and Carol Jordan but I have also watched a dozen episodes of Wire in The Blood which is based on the pair and it is the book of the same name that first introduces the terrifying killer who is seeking revenge in The Retribution.
Jacko Vance, celebrity and hero was incarcerated for just a single murder of a teenage girl despite the police being convinced he was responsible for at least seventeen, as well as the brutal killing of a colleague who got too close. For the last ten years Jacko has focused his considerable resources of intelligence, patience and money, towards escaping jail and making everyone responsible pay before fleeing the country. His escape leaves clinical psychologist, Tony Hill and DCI Carol Jordan, who have just managed to find some sort of equilibrium in their difficult lives, reeling, especially when it becomes obvious Vance isn’t targeting them directly, but the ones they love.
The Retribution is a gritty crime novel that delves into the darkness of human nature. While the main plot involves the sadistic behaviour of Vance and the desperate desire to recapture him, DCI Jordan’s team is also searching for a serial killer murdering young street prostitutes – a last case before the Major Incident Team is disbanded due to budget cuts. McDermid doesn’t spare us the details of the depravity committed by these two very different killers but it is the psychological tension that is so engrossing.
The murdered prostitutes are slow to be linked, changes in the method used by the killer confusing the team until the manner of deaths are attributed to a cancelled television show.
Vance is playing a cat and mouse game with Carol, Tony and Vance’s ex wife, wounding them in ways certain to inflict psychological suffering. That his brilliant plan is eventually thwarted can be no surprise, but exactly who takes down Vance and how is a twist you won’t see coming.
McDermid’s protagonists, Hill and Jordan, are almost as tortured and flawed as the criminals they hunt. Their relationship is complicated, both carry unimaginable burdens that they have struggled to share. Vance shatters their fragile connection and for fans of the series this might be a blow.
Though the seventh of the series, The Retribution can be read as a stand alone but readers would benefit from having gotten to know the characters in previous books. The Retribution is a page turning psychological thriller with plenty of twists and turns by Scottish author, Val McDermid.

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Alternate Cover

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Stephanie @ Read in a Single Sitting
    Jan 06, 2012 @ 19:03:35

    I listened to an interview with the McDermid on The Bookshow, and really must get around to some her work!. She mentioned that she was one of the first public school girls at her college at Oxford–the stories she told about it were fascinating, and I have a lot of respect for her as a person.

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  2. Tea Time with Marce
    Jan 07, 2012 @ 08:14:00

    The reviews on this one make me want to read it so bad but I decided to start with Mermaids Singing, can’t wait.

    What an exciting review, nice to know it can be read as a stand alone also.

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    • shelleyrae @ Book'd Out
      Jan 07, 2012 @ 12:52:27

      Mermaids Singing and Wire in the Blood were the only two I read before jumping to this one Marce but it is a great series

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  3. Patty
    Jan 07, 2012 @ 09:05:16

    I have this from NetGalley, too and can’t wait to read it!!!

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