Review: How the Dead Speak by Val McDermid

Title: How the Dead Speak by Val McDermid
Tony Hill and Carol Jordan Series Book Eleven
Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 416 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


Val McDermid is an award-winning, crime-writing powerhouse, and now she returns to her explosive, thrilling series featuring psychological profiler Tony Hill and ex-DCI Carol Jordan in her latest How The Dead Speak

With Tony behind bars and Carol finally out of road as a cop, he’s finding unexpected outlets for his talents in jail and she’s joined forces with a small informal group of lawyers and forensics experts looking into suspected miscarriages of justice. But they’re doing it without each other; being in the same room at visiting hour is too painful to contemplate. Meanwhile, construction is suddenly halted on the redevelopment of an orphanage after dozens of skeletons are found buried in the grounds. Forensic examination reveals they date from between twenty and forty years ago, when the nuns were running their repressive regime. But then a different set of skeletons are discovered in a far corner, young men from as recent as ten years ago.

When newly promoted DI Paula McIntyre discovers that one of the male skeletons is that of a killer who is supposedly alive and behind bars—and the subject of one of Carol’s miscarriage investigations—it brings Tony and Carol irresistibly into each other’s orbit once again. A shocking, masterfully plotted novel that will leave readers breathless, How The Dead Speak is McDermid at her best and a can’t miss read long-time fans and new readers alike.


How the Dead Speak by Val McDermid is an intriguing police procedural. This eleventh installment in the Tony Hill and Carol Jordan series can be read as a standalone.

Psychologist and profiler Tony Hill is now serving his prison sentence and trying to find his footing in jail. He is working on a book while trying to come up with a way to make a difference behind bars. Tony is dismayed when his mum Vanessa pays him a visit and he is forced to comply with her request. Unfortunately this means asking former DCI and long time friend Carol Jordan to investigate something for Vanessa.

Carol Jordan is, like Tony, trying to decide what comes next now she is no longer a police officer. She is surprised by how much she likes working with her hands and she is hard at work on a carpentry project. She is also finally making a concerted effort to get treatment for her PTSD. Carol is surprised when defence solicitor Bronwen Scott shows up with an unexpected proposition. Not willing to fully commit to  Bronwen’s proposal,  Carol does agree to give it serious consideration. She is also quite dismayed by Vanessa’s visit and she reluctantly begins looking into Tony’s mum’s situation.

Detective Inspector Paula McIntyre is now working in the newly reformed ReMIT under DCI Ian Rutherford. She and her fellow team members are rather flummoxed when Rutherford forces his way into a case that is not exactly their typical investigation.  A construction crew has recently made a grisly discovery on the grounds of a former convent.  A cadaver dog makes another shocking find and McIntyre and her fellow detectives are now working to uncover who is responsible for the gruesome murders.

How the Dead Speak is a clever, well-executed mystery. The cast of characters is richly developed with realistic shortcomings and enviable strengths. Tony and Carol continue to grow and evolve as they adapt to their new situations. DI McIntyre is a brilliant investigator who keenly feels Tony’s and Carol’s absence as she interviews witnesses and suspects. The various story arcs are interesting and the investigations move at an even pace.  Val McDermid brings the novel to an exciting and satisfying  conclusion. Old and new fans are sure to enjoy this newest addition to the Tony Hill and Carol Jordan series.

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Filed under Atlantic Monthly Press, Contemporary, How the Dead Speak, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Suspense, Tony Hill and Carol Jordan Series, Val McDermid

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