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by Val McDermid

Pub Date: Sept. 15th, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-06-168897-3
Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

As if the usual round of serial murder (The Torment of Others, 2005, etc.) weren’t challenge enough, DCI Carol Jordan and her staff at Bradfield’s Major Incident Team have to deal with a bombing at the local soccer stadium—or, even worse, they don’t.

Someone must have it in for Bradfield Victoria. First it’s the mysterious illness of their star midfielder, Robbie Bishop, which turns out to be ricin poisoning, diagnosed too late by a medical staff that can only watch helplessly as he slips into an agonizing death. Then, as the team takes the field again, their stadium is bombed in the middle of the game, killing 35 fans and injuring more than 100. Nor does it help that the Bradfield force is virtually certain that the bomber was inoffensive Yousef Aziz, a driver for First Fabrics, his family’s company, because the Counter Terrorism Command Team, a bunch of bullies if ever there was one, instantly swoops down and grabs the case, leaving them on the sidelines. The only target left Carol and her team is the poisoner—who’s been busy dispatching other victims as well, one of them an ex-copper who survived the stadium bomb only to keel over hours later. After hundreds of pages, both cases are wrapped up with a speed as gratifying as it is unlikely.

Long and grueling, but high-octane catnip for procedural fans, especially since a violent prologue allows McDermid (The Grave Tattoo, 2007, etc.) to sideline the ongoing salt-and-pepper romance of Carol and profiler Tony Hill so that they can concentrate on business.