Cross and Burn By Val McDermid

Jun 7, 2014 | 2014 Articles, Mysteryrat's Maze

by Gloria Feit

I must begin this review by stating how perfect I found the title. It is a quote from David Russell: “The hardest thing in life is to know which bridge to cross and which to burn.” And there many bridges here where both verbs apply. The most startling of these for the reader is the bridge connecting the series protagonists, DCI Carol Jordan and Dr. Tony Hill, forensic psychologist and offender profiler who frequently consulted in that capacity with the police and the MIT.

Carol, formerly DCI of the Major Incident Team, had handed in her resignation; her old team has been completely disbanded; and her relationship with Tony, which had reached the point that they had been planning to share the house he had unexpectedly inherited, has

Following the horrific events in the last series entry, The Retribution, wherein Carol’s brother and his significant other were brutally murdered, the rift between Jordan and Hill is so severe that there has been no communication at all between them for nearly three months, with each feeling insurmountable guilt, Carol’s all the worse because she holds Tony even more at fault than she herself; Tony’s own feelings are similar.

Following those events as well are other drastic changes: Carol had handed in her resignation; her old team has been completely disbanded; and Tony is now working solely in a secure mental hospital and living on a houseboat. Everything has been affected by budget cuts; the Forensic Science Service has been privatized, with criminal investigations being outsourced; and Tony’s services are felt to be no longer needed: “There’s no budget for anything you can’t reach out and touch any more.”

Newly promoted DS Paula McIntyre of the Bradfield Metropolitan Police (formerly a member of the MIT under Jordan,) is called in to a murder scene. She and DCI Alex Fielding, now her boss, soon come to believe that it is the work of a serial killer, when another body is found with the same MO; it appears that he stalks and then kidnaps the women before brutally abusing and murdering them. Periodically there are chapters from the chilling perspective of the perpetrator as he sizes up his next potential victims. All of whom, by the way, strongly resemble Carol Jordan.

But half-way through the novel, the author provides a jaw-dropper (literally) of a twist, beyond which point I cannot go. Except to say that Val McDermid just keeps getting better and better (which I know I’ve said in the past of this author’s books, and it remains true).

Highly recommended.

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Ted & Gloria Feit live in Long Beach, New York, a few miles outside of New York City. For 26 years, Gloria was the manager of a medium-sized litigation firm in lower Manhattan. Her husband, Ted, is an attorney & former stock analyst, publicist & writer/editor for, over the years, several daily, weekly and monthly publications. Having always been avid mystery readers & since they’re now retired, they’re able to indulge their passion. Their reviews appear online as well as in three print publications in the UK & US.


  1. Sounds good, thanks!

  2. Val McDermid is one of my favorites. There is nothing better than to be deep into one of her books.

  3. She’s one of my favorite authors. There’s never an extra word; the plots move quickly without ignoring character development. I was given a copy of this book last night and can’t wait to start it.


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