Review

Beneath the Bleeding: A Tony Hill Novel

by Val McDermid

“Beneath the bleeding hands, we feel the sharp compassion
of the healer’s art…”

     --- T.S. Eliot

Val McDermid, the author of the popular Tony Hill novels, feels
that violence in her books must have a role in the plot and
storytelling. Her latest work, BENEATH THE BLEEDING, is no
exception.

Dr. Tony Hill’s day starts off normally enough, but soon
it takes a near-fatal turn when he races from his counseling office
in Bradfield Moor, a psychiatric facility housing violent, unstable
mental patients, at the sound of a blaring alarm. Understaffed, the
facility erupts in carnage and murder when a dangerous inmate goes
on the attack. The man swings a fire axe with aplomb, reaping blood
and destruction with each swath. Hill attempts an intervention when
he confronts the frantic man but becomes a toppled victim, his leg
exploding in pain and blood. He wakes up --- still alive, albeit
badly injured --- in a Bradfield hospital bed.

Coincidence places star midfield footballer Robbie Bishop at the
same hospital with Hill. Bishop has been complaining of flu-like
symptoms, and the athlete deteriorates with headlong decline into a
comatose state and, eventually, death. Body fluid analyses bring a
startling diagnosis: ricin poisoning. Detective Chief Inspector
Carol Jordan and her team, along with the wounded Hill, investigate
the bizarre poisoning, racing against time to hunt for a
murderer.

Jordan and Hill have worked as a team in the past; Jordan is
adept as a profiler, and Hill has earned a stellar reputation as a
homicide sleuth. But contrary to their partnership in previous Tony
Hill books, they act independently in this case. Despite all their
skills, they find themselves facing new challenges as Hill drifts
in and out of drug-induced pain relief, and Jordan’s team is
undermined by the sensational nature of the case. The intelligence
service threatens to replace Jordan, but Hill manages to escape
from his sickbed for brief periods in order to probe for clues on
his own, uncovering new information and twists that keep the reader
coming back for more.

Intertwined with the plot of the mysterious poisoning, BENEATH
THE BLEEDING challenges the political scene with inclusion of a
terrorist activity. Yousef Aziz, son of an immigrant textile
merchant, contrives a bomb plot in secret. His target: Bradfield
Downs, the site of the anticipated Bradfield Victoria-Ratliff
soccer match. When a blast of billowing gray smoke and mayhem
shroud the field, carnage and disaster fill it, with bodies piling
up all around.

What’s the connection between the poisoning and the
bombing? Why was this athlete murdered along with dozens of
innocent people? And will Hill and Jordan be able to find the
people responsible before any other lives are lost? One must read
to find out the shocking answers to these questions. Although I
have read only one other McDermid novel, she has truly secured me
as a fan with her latest book. BENEATH THE BLEEDING satisfies
one’s thirst for complicated plots, personal struggles and
rapidly advancing action.

Reviewed by Judy Gigstad on December 22, 2010

Beneath the Bleeding: A Tony Hill Novel
by Val McDermid

  • Publication Date: September 1, 2009
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Paperbacks
  • ISBN-10: 0061688975
  • ISBN-13: 9780061688973